Fight Club 2 TPB
Writer: Chuck Palahniuk
Artist: Cameron Stewart
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Nate Piekos
Review by Josh Canales
Fight Club is an icon in American literature and in international movies, it had broken new ground in its day. Palaniuk received an obscene amount of praise for his disturbingly violent novel and movie, it was much deserved. After Fight Club 2 was announced, I was like a kid in a toy store, overwhelmed with excitement. This may be my first misstep; assuming Palahniuk could transfer his writing easily into comic form. I was, sadly, way off base with this assumption. When Palahniuk’s Random House editor predicted that Fight Club 2 being published as a comic would “destroy whatever legacy” he had formed as an author, maybe he should’ve taken another look at his decision.
The story itself has merit, but it is painfully obvious this is Palahniuk’s first foray into comics. I understand that due to the nature of the story being about mental disorders and drugs, it was a smart move to make moments as jarring as possible. Yet, too much of a good thing is still too much. This is a problem that persists through the book; countless subplots that simply don’t make sense, distracting art, and fourth-wall breaks that just try to hard to be clever are just the biggest of such problems.
We meet our narrator again, now going by “Sebastian”, living a completely unspectacular life. Working an office job, married to Marla, Tyler Durden’s love interest from the original book, and even raising a son. Marla, knowing what she knows about her now husband and his other personality, decides it would be smart to spice her life up again by replacing some of his medications. She is not the only one who wants Tyler around, Sebastian’s therapist has been using hypnotherapy to bring him back for years. Tyler and his therapist have been rebuilding Project Mayhem under the new guise of Rize or Die. Which apparently aims to wipe out the global population using a nuclear weapons in a plan named “The Tranquility Gambit”.
That sounds interesting enough, right? Well there’s still a lot more. In his free time, which he seems to have a lot of, Tyler blows up Sebastian’s house. Using the blown up house as a distraction to kidnap his son. Marla and Sebastian aim to get him back, so Sebastian goes for Tyler through Project Mayhem. While he does that, Marla joins a support group for young children who age incredibly fast. Using these kids’ Make-A-Wish type charity, she gets them to militarize to fight Rize or Die’s paramilitary group that is inexplicably on a global scale. This is where we run into some real problems in the story. So in order to fix the problem, the character simply calls Palahniuk and his writer workshop to get advice.
This book has everything you would need to call it a simple nostalgia inspired cash-grab, but I would still hesitate to call it so. Stripping the book of all the distractions from the main story, it seems a natural sequel to its predecessor. Although, I cannot help but feel that Palahniuk’s first attempt at the comic book medium should’ve been a more simplistic, less meta and more linear story. With moments that are distracting and take readers out of the book never really being acknowledged or explained, it was hard to keep up at times.
Palahniuk even shows himself agreeing with a mob of fans angry at the abrupt ending of the story. Writing himself into the book and essentially saying that he has run out of ideas until (the already confirmed) Fight Club 3, simply seems like a cop-out to me. That’s not to say he didn’t do a single thing right, because that’s simply not true. His characters stay true to who they were previously, staying faithful to the disturbing Sebastian/Tyler/Marla relationship. He isn’t afraid to admit that he makes mistakes. Even if I feel the fourth wall breaks are a mistake in itself, I have to admire that attribute in an author.
As for Cameron Stewart’s art, I was very much impressed. He conveys emotion flawlessly in each face he draws. His art is not without fault though. There are quite a few distracting aspects throughout. When I first saw him overlay the page with pills and flower petals, I was floored. Then it became too much, it was happening constantly throughout the book. Pills and rose petals lying on top of pages, covering word balloons, faces, and actions. It became more of a distraction than a compliment to the story.
Leave it. The team on this book is full of fantastic creators, they just don’t seem to click together for this particular project. Palahniuk would have been better off sticking to the medium he knows for such a convoluted story. Fight Club 2 is a jumbled mess of good ideas that simply do not fit together to form a cohesive, easy to follow story. It seems to miss the mark that Fight Club hit so miraculously.