When Chuck Palahniuk first wrote ‘Fight Club’ back in 1995 nobody knew that they weren’t supposed to talk about it. Nobody was talking about it. In fact, the 1999 film was a commercial flop at the box office. It wasn’t until Fight Club was released on DVD that it achieved a ‘cult’ status, and pretty soon everyone was breaking the first two rules of Fight Club.
The film and the book have achieved a cult following due to its influential messages about anti-consumerism, self-discovery, and enlightenment. From philosophical quotes like: “I want to wipe my ass with the Mona Lisa” or “you are not your fucking khakis,” gave rise to the idea that we, as a society, can be so much more than materialism and vanity. Tyler Durden states that “We are the middle children of history. We have no great war or great depression. Our great war is a spiritual war, our great depression is our lives.” For many young youth, including myself, Fight Club became a self-help book wrapped in a story about an underground boxing league. Page after page, quote after quote: “It’s only after we’ve lost everything, that we are free to do anything.”
Fight Club 2 continues some of these philosophies and is Palahniuk’s graphic novel return to the universe of basement brawlings and Bob’s bitch tits. By now, it’s well established that Sebastian and Tyler Durden are the same person, but this 10-issue mini-series builds upon that. Fight Club 2 takes place ten years after the novel (not the movie) as Sebastian has now married Marla Singer and they now have a ten year old son (or as Tyler Durden would explain it: “The consequence of sport fucking). Sebastian has gone back to living his normal, non-fulfilling life of living in the suburbs and working at a desk job; much like he was at the beginning of Fight Club. It is only until Sebastian’s house burns down and his son is kidnapped that it is revealed that the people in his life have been baiting Tyler Durden to come back. Because as Tyler Durden would say: “I look how you wanna look, I fuck how you wanna fuck. I am smart, capable, and most importantly; I am free in all the ways that you are not.” Palahniuk takes this opportunity to do some really fascinating things by expanding on Sebastian’s family history and his family's relationship with Tyler Durden as essentially a “second dad” to Sebastian’s son.
Although some of these plot twists and turns can be confusing coming across in a comic book form, even having to re-read for clarity is a pleasure; as Cameron Stewart’s art and coloring are gorgeous. Re-reading for clarity is almost a must as some of the written text is covered up by fourth-wall breaking rose petals or prescription pills. As you continue to read through the issues, you understand the reason for these images as they start to have significance to the story. This being his first comic book, Chuck Palahniuk seems to be influenced by the work of Garth Ennis, as his Fight Club universe now contains bonkers elements such as terminally ill children wielding rocket launchers and Semtex.
While Fight Club 2 is a fun comic book, you really do need to be a fan of the book or movie to enjoy this story. As the graphic novel does not include the backstory issue for Fight Club 2 that was released on Free Comic book day 2015. The character of Tyler Durden is also different from the novel and is less philosophical and more psychotic, coming across as less of a hero and more of cult leader villain. This could be just a progression of his character and what ‘Project Mayhem’ has evolved into. But Fight Club 2 is missing some of that twisted philosophy that made the book and film so potent. A good example of this is the scene from the film, called ‘Human Sacrifice,’ where Tyler and Sebastian force a store clerk at gunpoint to get on his knees. While holding the clerk at gunpoint, Tyler thumbs through his wallet discovering that he once wanted to be a veterinarian. He asks, the now crying man, why he is no longer going to school, and tells the man that he going to keep his wallet; claiming that he will check in with him. Tyler claims that if the man is not on the road to being a veterinarian in six months, Tyler will kill him. Although, dark and abnormal, there is a strange positivity to this scene. Tyler Durden’s philosophy of self improvement is not as present in Fight Club 2 as it was in the original.
Overall, I am glad that Chuck Palahniuk has returned to the story that put him on the map. There are several fun plot twists and turns in this collection that are on par with the original work. The story is fun although a bit difficult to read at times. Palahniuk has already announced a Fight Club 3 graphic novel, so GET EXCITED!
Okay, I’m going to stop breaking the first two rules of Fight Club.