A comic book sequel to a fantastic book that was turned into a pretty great movie may seem like a good idea, or at least a recipe for a best seller. Cash in on the pre-existing audience that loved the movie and pique the interested of the scores of people who read the book and take their money – it makes sense. It would have been easy to cash that check and half-ass things. But you know what? If this first issue is anything to go by, Dark Horse didn’t do that. They did things right, beginning with bringing Chuck Palahniuk, the man who wrote Fight Club, on board to pen the follow up.
Which brings us to this comic, a comic that introduces us to a guy named Sebastian. The narration tells us he was poised to become the next Genghis Khan but that he took the easy way out. Now he drives a sedan and pops pills to maintain his supposed happiness. He shows up at a flower and the beaten, bruised man behind the counter hands him the bouquet but refuses to take his money. He comes home and finds the babysitter freaked out on the phone with the cops – Junior, the unforeseen consequence of sport fucking – is having a time out. His wife, Marla, is out… somewhere. A support group for people suffering from progeria syndrome. She unloads on a bunch of kids who look like senior citizens, complaining about her marriage unaware that ‘Sebastian’ has found her and is sitting in the back listening to her complain about him, his pill popping specifically. Through this tirade we learn what happened, how he wound up in the nuthouse and she popped out that kid. She misses the crazy man she fell in love with nine years ago but he doesn’t stick around to hear that part. Instead he hits a bar, where a bruised and beaten bartender addresses him as Mr. Durden. He drinks his water, not booze but water, and wishes for a do-over, a way to get everything that’s polluted his head out of his head.
He comes home, meets Marla, and takes his pill unaware that she’s replaced the dope in the capsule with sugar. He mows the lawn and hits a pile of dog shit. They don’t own a dog. His son yells out at him from the window and rats out the neighbor, Mr. Coffey, for throwing it over the fence. Flashbacks – drugs, rough sex, fighting, therapy, an affair and a car bomb – like the graffiti Sebastian passes in an alley way so plainly states, “Tyler Durden lives.”
The F.B.I. get involved and they ask Sebastian a lot of questions about his father. We flashback to his childhood, we see a fire, it starts to make sense. Both his parents died… in two separate fires. But the fire marshal suspects a med student named Raul Kensington Seymour was the one that died in the fire, not their kid. Mr. Durden had something to do with this.
Sebastian hops a bus, he goes home to a familiar looking rundown old house, or at least what’s left of it. We flashback to his past, we learn about his dad’s many weddings and see a familiar looking guy there talking to him. He’s a younger version but we know who he is. The next morning Marla admits what she’s done, about the meds, about Tyler, and Sebastian knows what he has to do. If they want to find their kid, she needs to hit him as hard as she can…
We learn that Sebastian’s son isn’t dead at all, he’s been kidnapped. We also learn that Tyler has been not only around but very active for much longer than anyone thought and that he very likely killed Sebastian’s parents when he was a child. Marla is just... fucked up and together they’ve got to head out into the world to figure out what happened to their kid and why.
Sebastian shows up at a very familiar looking old house and when he’s asked by the men on the porch why he’s there, he says he’s not, this place doesn’t exist, he doesn’t exist. Right answer. He’s let in and told all about how men need a surrogate beyond their traditional father to help raise them – hence why they wind up latching onto military officers, preachers, coaches and characters like that. But these men are all ‘pariahs.’ Sebastian falls asleep as his host gets a phone call from Mr. Palahniuk. As he sleeps, Tyler talks to him – are they using the kid as bait to bring Sebastian back into their fold?
Cut to a scene where we see Moses leading his people away from slavery.
“Junior has two daddies.”
Sebastian learns about ‘Operation Lethal Injection’ – a plot in which sharp objects that are infected with something are being strategically placed around the city to thing the herd. Tyler is taken away in a helicopter to the airport where he boards a plane. He gives speech to a huge crowd while Sebastian lies on the floor unconscious. When he wakes he hears the other men talking about how they want to learn about themselves, how they want more than money. Project Mayhem gave him that. Fistfight therapy is more effective than the Bible. These young men see Sebastian as a dead man, his life is over he’s told. They all continue to wait outside the house for Tyler to return and let them in.
And then he does.
For the last three days, Sebastian has been waiting on the front porch of a certain rundown house. When he falls asleep, Tyler shows up and runs things. He’s got operatives everywhere and in every facet of modern society.
Cut to the office – Sebastian is at work, but really he’s thinking about Rize Or Die International, a provider of fore hire military personnel. He heads home, fucks his wife, and in the middle of it all, Tyler emerges, telling Marla she wanted it. She kicks him out and then resumes looking for junior. She tries different meetings, clubs, support groups – Pint Club, Film Club, stuff like that – but she comes up empty handed until she enters Write Club where things get ‘too meta.’ Chuck Palahniuk is there, but he writes her out of the scene.
Things are going from weird to weirder. She leaves with a little girl who is also an old lady, gets a call from Robert Paulson and ends up at the porch of an old house where a meeting of Quilt Club is commencing. At the actual Fight Club house, three more are let in. Sebastian, bruised and fucked up beyond belief, is called out for his dandruff but it might actually be salt, while Marla ends up in the boardroom of the Magic Wand Foundation, a ‘Make A Wish’ type organization. Her new ‘kid’ offers up her bucket list which winds up getting her transport to every international hot stop/killing field around as well as the hardware needed to deal with it.
And then Sebastian makes it in, but nobody wants to fight him – he’s too old, until one man emerges out of the shadows.
PLEASE ASSUME CRASH POSITIONS.
Tyler is pissed. The guy he got into it with in his latest fight hit him in the face. You’re not allowed to do that and Tyler makes an example of him, pronto. Meanwhile, Marla and the terminally ill child are stuck in a warzone. He confesses to her that he’s not really a child, that he’s old like she is, that he went to cancer support groups even though he didn’t have cancer just to make himself feel better. It was the only place he felt love, the kind of love he shouldn’t have been allowed to receive.
Tyler gets on a plane and flies to Europe. Sebastian wakes up inside a mansion filled with valuable art and antiques. Or does he? He wakes up, fills out a questionnaire and winds up talking to his shrink. What’s real? What’s not? What’s in his head and what’s happening outside where the rest of the world can see?
A handful of pills, some vandalism… if things weren’t out of hand before they sure as Hell are now. And it goes from there. We won’t spoil the ending of this one.
Palahniuk’s writing is as sharp and frequently acerbic here as it ever was and while Fight Club isn’t a book or a movie that really ever called out for a sequel, this follow up shows plenty of promise. Yes, there are a few predictable quips – we don’t need the Ikea references and part of the flashback where we get that almost feels like an unnecessary attempt to tap into the original’s manifesto – but the whole ‘fuck the world’ attitude remains the same, just as it should. The dialogue, the way in which the story points out the mundane ritual of the everyday suburban life so many fall prey to only to find themselves, like Sebastian, popping pills and seeing a shrink, is poignant and beautifully bitter and in this regard. But when you get to the last page…. Holy shit. Pahalniuk leaves it up to you, to a certain degree, to decide whether or not the lunatics have taken over the asylum but really, we’re going to keep this vague, spoiling the way that this increasingly insane ten issue storyline finishes would be a crime, the kind you need to be locked up for and I’m too pretty for jail. So without going into those details you need to uncover for yourself, let it suffice to say that for a story that never needed a sequel in the first place, this unnecessary follow up defies all expectations . In fact, it takes your expectations and says ‘those expectations don’t mean shit, check this out!’ and then it kicks you in the groin and makes you say ‘Thank you, may I have another?’ It works and it works really, really well. It’s almost surreal in spots, tying meta into conventional into confrontational all into one beautiful mind-fuck of a knot.
Cameron Stewart gets in on the action too, particularly in the last few pages. His art has complements the writing right from the opening pages. And in every one of those pages he’s been putting interesting, occasionally fairly twisted, little quirks into the storyline. The art suits the story nicely. Beautifully, really. There’s good detail here, strong line work and a sort of quick, sketchy feel that is appropriate enough but that doesn’t skimp on polish. It’s not overcooked but it’s not unrealistic either. There’s some interesting and creative things done with the panel lay out and ‘pill placement’ throughout that intentionally cover some of the dialogue to interesting effect, making you question, as you read it, the importance of what’s being said. Dave Stewart’s coloring work is perfect. It brings the illustrations to vivid, sometimes shocking life. Even the lettering, something that is all too easy to overlook when evaluating comic books, is spot on. Nate Piekos of Blambot gets full credit for that.
Fight Club didn’t need a sequel. We got one anyways. Bring on Fight Club3 – and keep David Mack on for the covers, because every front piece he’s contributed to this run has been perfect (the variants have been great too, but Mack’s work on this series is suitable for framing… and then smashing, you know, if it were hung in a gallery!).
This collected edition doesn’t just include the ten issues that make up Fight Club 2. It’s also got a new introduction from Gerald Howard about how the property came to be in comic book form. There’s also a twelve page section called Fight Club Ending Redux in which the original ending of the novel is presented in comic book form. Stewart illustrates this section as well. Creator bios are also included. The ‘Chaos Report’ pages from the individual issues are not carried over here, however.