FIGHT CLUB 2 #1
Written by Chuck Palahniuk
Art by Cameron Stewart
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: May 27, 2015
It has been almost nineteen years since Chuck Palahniuk unleashed his debut novel Fight Club onto the world. It feels even harder to believe that it has been sixteen years since David Fincher’s movie adaptation helped turn the story of an anonymous man finding purpose In his mundane life, and the emergence of his destructive alter ego Tyler Durden into a cultural phenomenon. Over the past decade and a half millions of people have read the book, and/or have watched the movie. Even if you haven’t done either there’s a good chance you know the rules of Fight Club. Now all these years later Palahnuik returns to the world of his most famous creation, with artist Cameron Stewart, to continue the story of The Narrator in a ten issue comic book event from Dark Horse Comics. The two big questions are whether this sequel is necessary, and whether the Palahniuk/Stewart team can live up to the immense hype behind this project. Did it have to be made? No, the original would have been just fine left on its own, but that doesn’t make the new story any less enjoyable. Is Fight Club 2 any good? The first issue has all of the ingredients necessary in a opening installment to make this reviewer confident that we have a worthy sequel on our hands.
Right off the bat it must be noted that this issue picks up ten years after the events of the novel. With that said, Palahniuk explains what has gone on in The Narrator’s life in such a way that fans that have only seen the movie will be fine jumping right in here without needing to read the novel first. Much of the issue is devoted to filling readers in on the new status quo of The Narrator’s life before tearing it all down again. He is a family man that leads a relatively simple life, and has even been going by a new name (which I will not spoil here). He has a wife, a kid, and seems to have his mental illness under control. As one would expect, there are just a few problems. First off, for some reason he still gets recognized by beat up men around town despite being out of the game for a decade, and second everything isn’t as great at home as he thinks it is. This combination leads to the near perfect return of an old friend who hasn’t been as gone as The Narrator (or the reader) was led to believe.
Palahniuk takes many of the themes from the original story, and moves them up a level. In fact, there are going to be a lot of comparisons and parallels between the stories. In Fight Club The Narrator was a single man in thirties struggling with society’s concept of masculinity, and finding his purpose in a mundane world. Here in the sequel The Narrator is a middle aged man struggling with the everyday existence of what it means to be a husband and father in today’s world. The evolution of these themes are logical, and the passage of time between the original and this sequel works to the latter’s benefit. Of course there’s the theme of mental illness, and their effect on people and those around them. For people who have struggled with mental illness a lot of what The Narrator is going through may hit close to home. Whereas the original consisted of what unchecked mental illness can put someone through, this opening issue is about what the drugs do to a person, and living dangerously on that edge between health and illness. What Palhanuik does so well is dive into the psyche of The Narrator, and what it feels like to quite literally be inside his head. All of this is beautifully captured on the page by Cameron Stewart.
Over the past several months Cameron Stewart has been primarily known as the writer of Batgirl. That title has gotten so much attention that I ALMOST forgot just how good he is with a pencil. Stewart’s talent is on full display here and he proves that his style was a great choice to bring the story to life visually. There’s a perfect balance between the everyday, the gritty, and the absurd aspects of the script. The mundane, everyday activities of a The Narrator are given a more simple, cartoony look by Stewart. As the issue moves along, and business picks up we are treated to some absolutely beautiful splash pages that match the called for intensity with a slightly different style. One splash page in particular dealing with what fills The Narrator’s mind is the absolute highlight of book visually. What makes these pages truly stand out though are how Stewart is able to switch stylistically back and forth. Another beautiful trick is the use of different objects in the foreground to obscure faces or text, thus adding another layer of meaning to the scenes. This is a pretty book that has me salivating to see what Stewart has in store once things get really crazy.
There is so much more to talk about with the first issue of Fight Club 2, but that would mean taking the joy of finding out information, and seeing different characters for the first time as you turn the page. For Fight Club fans this is a must read comic book that you may not have needed, but always wanted. It carries on the tone and feel of the original while exploring new territory. This holds true whether you identify as a fan of the novel or the movie. There is a lot of overview and setup within these pages. This may make some readers feel that this opening is slow, but it is necessary to remember that this is part one of a ten part series. It may not get off to a blistering start, but the great character work will almost certainly payoff as the story progresses. As I said above, all the ingredients for a worthy sequel to the original are found here. Once they are properly mixed and heated it will be delicious, and mayhem will ensue.
The Verdict: 9.0/10