Fight Club 2

Comic Heroes - - Comics We Rate - Will Salmon

Re­viewed: Is­sues 1-5

Writer: Chuck Palah­niuk

Artist: Cameron Ste­wart

Pub­lisher: Dark Horse

For­mat: 10-part se­ries It’s al­ways risky go­ing back to a hit. Chuck Palah­niuk made his name with his slim, sick de­but novel about un­der­ground fight­ing, soap and anti-cap­i­tal­ism be­fore go­ing on to re­fine his style in nu­mer­ous other darkly funny satires.

David Fincher’s movie adap­ta­tion proved to be, if not a mas­sive com­mer­cial hit, then a cult suc­cess. It un­doubt­edly helped Palah­niuk’s ca­reer (and he has been noth­ing but com­pli­men­tary about the film), but per­haps took the book away from him a lit­tle.

By the book

Hence this of­fi­cial se­quel to the novel and not the film. It’s ten years later and Project May­hem has sin­gu­larly failed to bring about the end of so­ci­ety as we know it – though it’s still out there and the dis­ci­ples of Tyler Dur­den con­tinue to meet at the house on Pa­per Street.

Tyler, for his part, is sup­pressed in the mind of our name­less pro­tag­o­nist – now go­ing by Se­bas­tian. He’s set­tled down with Marla. They have a kid and ap­pear to be fully as­sim­i­lated into a life of sub­ur­ban do­mes­tic­ity. Bored out of her mind, Marla starts tam­per­ing with Se­bas­tian’s meds so that she can have an af­fair with Tyler. It’s not long, how­ever, be­fore he gets loose and kid­naps their son.

Fight Club 2 walks a fine line be­tween the old and new. Re­turn­ing el­e­ments – “space mon­keys”, An­gel Face, Marla’s ad­dic­tion to sup­port groups – are all present and cor­rect, but there are stranger de­vel­op­ments as Palah­niuk be­gins to ex­per­i­ment with the comic form. Just as Fincher would have Tyler talk to cam­era, so Palah­niuk plays with the fab­ric of his comic’s re­al­ity. At one point Marla runs into Chuck him­self at a ‘Write Club’...

Tyler, mean­while, is a more ag­gres­sive and malev­o­lent force. Be­fore, he would threaten peo­ple, seem­ingly to force them into im­prov­ing their lot in life. Now he’s openly a tyrant, or­der­ing ex­e­cu­tions at will. It’s a less nu­anced take on the char­ac­ter, per­haps, but one that suits the story well.

The book evokes the dis­eased tone of the orig­i­nal. The jokes are as black as they come (at one point Marla joins a sup­port group for ter­mi­nally ill chil­dren). And it re­tains the sense you get from the book that this is a story that could go any­where.

Ste­wart’s grubby, sketchy art is ap­pro­pri­ately dingy, nei­ther fol­low­ing the film (Tyler is a stocky surfer type here) or shy­ing so far away as to make the two in­com­pat­i­ble. And as the story pro­gresses it be­comes vis­ually more ad­ven­tur­ous, with im­ages of Se­bas­tian’s med­i­ca­tion lit­ter­ing the page, oc­ca­sion­ally ob­scur­ing faces and di­a­logue.

Some­thing to say

Does Fight Club 2 need to ex­ist? For the first cou­ple of is­sues, the jury is out – it’s an en­ter­tain­ing but slow start. And then #4 hits and the story bends in some fas­ci­nat­ing new di­rec­tions. It’s an ec­cen­tric and funny book, and a supremely as­sured comics de­but. We’d love to see Palah­niuk write more in the medium.

“It re­tains the sense that this story could

go any­where”

Frankly, we don’t re­ally

want to talk about it.

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