Chuck Palahniuk’s 1996 novel Fight Club was one of the definitive novels of the 1990s, and the subsequent David Fincher film adaptation starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton catapulted it into cultural phenomenon status. Twenty years on, and Palahniuk has followed up his original masterwork with a new installment in comic book form.
It has been ten years since the start of Project Mayhem and the protagonist, now going under the name Sebastian, is living a mundane life with a wife and child. He has been relying on pills to keep Tyler Durden at bay but when an equally bored Marla looks to spice up her life by having an affair with Tyler, the founder of Project Mayhem returns to pick up where he left off. This time, he’s embedded far deeper in the facets of Sebastian’s life than previously thought possible.
When a novel is as highly regarded as the original Fight Club, you’re going to get both people who have waited for a sequel for years on end, and those who think the idea of a sequel is sacrilege. Fortunately, both these groups of people will be satisfied; Palahniuk easily slips back into the characters he created without missing a beat. Tyler in particular is a joy to read, having retained the charisma that made him so captivating in the original whilst becoming even more twisted and conniving in his period of dormancy. Whilst his original plan for Project Mayhem was ambitious, his new course of action has taken on a whole other scale which not only involves Sebastian and Carla but has now expanded to the point of having a recruitment centre and even ties to ISIS as Tyler creates the Rize Or Die group. It all makes for a greatly intense and at times humorous read as both Sebastian and Marla seek to reunite their family whilst also putting a stop to Tyler’s machinations. And whilst there’ll be no discussion of the ending, let’s just say it takes meta to a head-exploding level (in a good way).
Being this is a comic book, it was important that Palahniuk be paired with strong creators to win over those who may have been expecting a regular novel. And fortunately again, Palahniuk has teamed with one of the industry’s most talented and creative artists in Cameron Stewart. From the layouts to the character designs and the ability to convey humour, action, fear and disgust in sequence without it coming off as jarring is quite a feat, and Stewart pulls it off in style throughout every chapter. Add some gorgeous painted covers from the equally talented David Mack and you’ve got the perfect package.
Fight Club 2 will obviously appeal to anyone who loved the original novel or the film, but on its own, it still works as a great psychological action thriller with enough of Palahniuk’s trademark humour and commentary on society to make this well worth picking up for even those who aren’t as familiar with Fight Club.
(Hardback, 256 pages, £22.50, 9781616559458)