Today I’m going to break the first rule of Fight Club… and the second rule Fight Club. Fight Club 2, the highly anticipated sequel to Chuck Palahniuk’s debut novel, Fight Club, has released it’s first issue. Palahniuk, instead of writing another novel, decided to tell the story in comic-book form. Many fans cried out that Fight Club didn’t need a sequel (it didn’t), but according to Chuck, there’s much more story to be told. Published through Dark Horse comics Fight Club 2 is the collaboration between author Chuck Palahniuk and artist Cameron Stuart.
The first thing that needs to be established is that Fight Club 2 is a sequel to the novel, not the David Fincher film. Despite the two versions being tonally similar, their endings are totally different. In the movie Edward Norton holds hands with Marla Singer as they watch the skyscrapers blow up around them to the tune of “Where is My Mind?” by The Pixies. In the novel, the bombs don’t go off and the protagonist is taken to the hospital, where he is greeted by even more members of Project Mayhem.
Flash forward a few years and now the protagonist, given the name of Sebastian, and Marla are married with a child and living boring lives in a boring suburban neighborhood, the exact fate Sebastian was trying to prevent. Sebastian keeps his other personality, Tyler Durden, at bay with the use of prescription medication. Both Tyler and Marla still go to support groups. This is where Fight Club 2 begins and much of the first issue is spent playing catch-up and establishing where the characters are now.
Marla, bored with the suburban lifestyle, has been switching out Sebastian’s meds with aspirin and confectionary sugar, hoping to bring Tyler Durden to the surface again. Durden is largely absent from this issue. It’s only when Sebastian’s shrink induces hypnotherapy that Durden is let loose. Project Mayhem has been growing and a couple times a week, for 60 minutes, Tyler is able to command them via computer in the therapist’s office.
There are a few twists and turns, but issue one of the series sees Palahniuk pulling out the same bag of tricks he did for Fight Club. Lines of dialogue are reused and certain images, such as the yin yang IKEA table, are repeated. It feels like fan service, but loyal followers of the original novel don’t need fan service, we need plot. Too many panels are given to a babysitter character whose main purpose is to tell Sebastian that Marla isn’t home. There’s a lot of rehashing of the themes of the original novel, in case you forgot.
When the story manages to get its wheels moving, the trajectory is interesting. Tyler is back and he’s up to no good. Sadly, this only lasts a couple of pages before we are left with a cliffhanger ending. The first issue acts as an extended tease, leaving the reader salivating for the real narrative coming next.
Palahniuk has proved himself as a master crafter of sentences and prose. His trademark style shines even clearer in comic book form. The inner monologues of the characters are a perfect fit for the heavy narration often found in graphic novels. Cameron Stuart’s artwork backs up the writing with a strong visual artistry that looks equal parts drab and magnificent. Objects like pills, rose petals, and the sound of a barking dog often spill from the panels, obfuscating some of the lettering, leaving sentences half-finished or completely illegible. It’s a clever trick used to show the numbing effects of medication, love, and suburban life, but it’s a trick that has the chance of being used too often. I don’t want to miss a single piece of dialogue, whether spoken or within a character’s mind.
Overall, Fight Club 2′s first issue is slow, but promises that more is yet to come. It’s hard to gauge the prospects of a series from the first issue but this sequel stands at halfway point for me. It could turn out incredible or abominable. I hope for the sake of all other Palahniuk fans that it’s the former instead of the latter. Time will tell, but issue one is certainly a strong start.
What did you think of Fight Club 2′s debut? Dark Horse currently has a preview of the issue here. Let us know in the comments below!