When I was initially asked to review Fight Club 2 by AiPT! writer David Brooke I was extremely excited and readily agreed. The
But I found that once I actually got my hands on the book I started to experience doubt. What if it isn’t good? What if it tarnishes one of my favorite films and turns me off from a writer I really enjoy? I didn’t want Fight Club 2 to be the sequel that failed to deliver like so many others before it–Speed II, The Matrix Revolutions, Anchorman 2, the list goes on and on. I got so fed up and disappointed with terrible sequels that a few years ago I began making a point to avoid them.
What convinced me to go through with it was a quote from Brian Michael Bendis on the cover “This book is fantastic, my highest recommendation.” Bendis is in my opinion one of the finest comic book writers of our generation. I’m a huge fan of House of M, Secret Invasion and his Daredevil run. If anyone could convince me to give this book a chance, it was Bendis.
Fight Club 2 (Dark Horse Comics)
Well, as it turns out, even one of the best comic book writers of our generation can lead you astray from time to time. I wish I had listened to that little voice inside my head that questioned my decision to read this book, let alone review it. To be completely honest I took a lot longer than I should have in writing this review and the primary reason was my disdain for this book is so great that I didn’t want to write about it.
But before I dig into why Fight Club 2 is a massive flop, I should point out that there is a bright spot here. The artists involved in this project draw nearly none of my criticism. Quite the opposite! Industry darling Cameron Stewart illustrates while David Mack is responsible for cover and chapter break art.
Stewart has been hailed as one of the best sequential artist of his generation and there’s good reason for this. His work is excellent and accessible from start to finish, handling transitions from sunny landscapes to nuclear destruction masterfully. This is the first comic I’ve encountered where an artist incorporates a meta-fictional style with pills, camera film and sperm “on top” of the comic. At points it made for a frustrating reading experience, as it was blocking out nearly full panels but I really enjoyed most of its use.
I hadn’t encountered any of David Mack’s work since Secret Invasion, but after my experience with his work in Fight Club 2, I plan to change that. Mack’s cover is simple yet powerfully symbolic, created in a watercolor style and stunningly beautiful. While the cover is my favorite piece of Mack’s work in this project, the chapter art is no less impressive. Symbolism is heavily present throughout, with themes ranging from iconic works of art to modern meta-fictional.
I’ve read the book version of Fight Club and while I do enjoy it I’m not one of the rare people who prefer it to the film. The film was my first exposure to Palahniuk and initiated a desire to look into his other works. I’ve read 6 of the 16 books he’s published and while I never equated him to the likes of Stephen King or James Joyce, I do generally enjoy his work and recommend him to friends.
Fight Club 2 begins with the narrator from the previous Fight Club novel (now known as Sebastian) married to Marla Singer (love interest from book/film), raising a young son, medicated to high heaven and leading a all-encompassing boring life.
The plot evolves from Sebastian and Marla’s failing marriage and boring lives. Specifically, Marla is horny. Marla misses being laid in a way that brings back nostalgic memories of grade school. Marla misses her old bedroom playmate Tyler Durden, Sebastian’s unstable anarchist alternate personality.
For those who haven’t read the previous book or seen the film, Tyler Durden blew up buildings, corrupted police officers, founded an anarchist group and tried to tear down society as we know it. So what does Marla do? Does she start sleeping around, pick up a few sex toys, give role playing the ole college try or hell, get really crazy and try therapy with her husband? No of course not. Marla replaces Sebastian’s medication with aspirin so Tyler can emerge and give her the lay she so desperately desires.
During Sebastian’s therapy sessions his psychiatrist employs hypnosis to cover Tyler’s emergence and leave Sebastian none the wiser. Tyler doesn’t waste any time with his new freedom and gets to work transforming Project Mayhem into Rize or Die – a paramilitary organization bent on tearing society down and rebuilding it in Tyler’s image.
From here the plot is difficult to follow, lacks cohesion and is poorly constructed. Palahniuk is all over the place and never captures any sense of flow once Tyler emerges. I felt like I was continually being distracted by ridiculous moment after ridiculous moment, to hide the lack of quality. This story is a jumble of independent events that more often than not seem to have no correlation between one another.
As one would expect there’s fan service to the first film/book but it’s so utterly ridiculous that I couldn’t even enjoy it. Everyone loved the projects from the first film/book: defacing property, ruining all the movies in a video store, stealing human fat. Well in FC2 we get projects too but this time they serve no purpose beyond filling space. Oh and who doesn’t remember the lovable, man-boob afflicted Robert Paulson? Good news! He’s back as a zombie you summon from the grave by chanting his name (seriously).
Amid this whirlwind of a dead-end plot points, confused dialogue and pandering fan service, Palahniuk decided to throw a hail mary and write himself into the story. Breaking the fourth wall is difficult but when executed properly, the results make for great entertainment–The Dark Tower, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and of course Deadpool are prime examples. Shockingly enough Fight Club 2 is not an example of breaking the fourth wall being executed well. We have characters calling Palahniuk for plot advancement, visiting him in person, and for a grand finale he meets a crowd of fans to acknowledge the ending sucks. That’s right, the author acknowledging his own story sucks before you’ve even finished reading it.
While I realize writing a graphic novel is a new medium, at its core it’s still writing–something Palahniuk has been doing for a very long time. I was worried that this book would tarnish Fight Club for me like many other sequels have done to their originals. Thankfully that didn’t happen. After reading a such poorly written story by an experienced and accomplished author I enjoy, I’m just mad I wasted my time.
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