“Fight Club 2″ #1 proves sequels are difficult territory. Chuck Palahniuk is perhaps faced with a certain set of expectations set forth by his own characters and faces an enormous hurdle in the justification of reentering the world of “Fight Club.” With the central twist of the original story out of the way, how and why does it make sense to revisit Tyler Durden?
Story by: Chuck Palahniuk
Art by: Cameron Stewart
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: May 27, 2015
The short answer is, it doesn’t. The Narrator is now calling himself Sebastian. He’s bogged down in the monotony of suburban life, back to where he was at the beginning of the novel. Except the monotony isn’t nearly as grating as it once was and the rejection of this lifestyle doesn’t even seem to come up for Sebastian. Instead, the enigmatic Marla Singer motivates the return of Tyler.
She was always trouble, perhaps more damaged than the narrator in a story full of damaged people. But, she was never the focus of the story. She was the object of desire. Here, she provides a catalyst to change through her own rejection of monotony. But, the debut issue hardly gives so much of a glimpse as to what she’s rejecting. The result is a strangely motivated return of Tyler Durden.
Sebastian’s life is renewed with vigor under the cover of night. Tyler returns as quickly as the insomnia, but it doesn’t pack the punch it once did. Tyler seems to be an afterthought in this story, but a bombastic and over the top afterthought. It doesn’t offer much in the way of critique, rejection, or a mirror to the man who was once the head of Project Mayhem. Instead, he’s now some sort of criminal mastermind able to cause worldwide damage with a simple keyboard stroke. If it doesn’t sound subtle, that’s because it isn’t.
It’s entirely possible that the feelings the story inspires result from a disconnect between expectation and reality. But, its one that warrants examination because the expectation that “Fight Club 2” carries with it is one of biting social commentary. Instead the story feels as flaccid as its protagonist, a limp representation of what used to be with a few good ideas sprinkled throughout.
There are some plot points that indicate a strong direction for the future of the series. Sebastian’s son is sick and twisted in a way that could only be Tyler’s influence. But the moment that inspires that discussion is so quick that it may only be an afterthought in the story at large.
Cameron Stewart truly outdoes himself on every level in this book. His work is stellar and experimental. His pacing is fast but manages to linger on all the right moments. His character work exposes the ugly characters Palahniuk is known for, by lingering on their imperfections.
And, his layouts here are stunning. Massive page spreads that defy what you already know about comic books provide surreal transitions between scenes. This is some of the best work of his career.
It’s difficult to recommend “Fight Club” #2 to anyone who enjoyed the first novel and expects something similar. What lies on these pages isn’t necessarily un-enjoyable, but does very little to justify its own existence, or provide you with anything you haven’t seen before.