Off the heels of an incredibly strong opener, the second installment of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club 2 is quite the change of pace. With the playing field set, hurling the narrator (or Sebastian, as he’s now called) into the fray is a bit slower than one would like. Still, the brief calm before the shit-storm gives us a bit more of a handle on just how influential and depraved Tyler has grown.
With the fiery conclusion of last issue, Marla and Sebastian have an obvious difficulty getting over their shared trauma. Likewise, we get a bit more insight into Sebastian’s past, learning very quickly that the thread of Tyler, as well as his affinity for blowing shit up, goes incredibly deep. Unlike the previous installment, however, the story begins to move in more of a progressive manner.
Reflection pervades this episode and seeing brief glimpses of Sebastian and Tyler grow in tandem with another gives insight that the film, and even Palahniuk’s novel never really provided. The protagonist is kind of rebuilt, but what’s most important is still there. Marla is still at height, although you can’t shake this feeling that she’ll inevitably fall into our periphery.
Related: Review: Fight Club 2: Issue 1
One thing to be lauded and carried over from issue one is the panel structure. Paired with the crispy yet somehow the gritty art of Cameron Stewart, this bubbling of anxiety creeps and crawls with each page until we’re finally awarded some kind of minute, but welcome payoff. Smaller images will often cascade into something rewarding, like a bursting skull or an exploding locomotive. Other times, it’ll be a bit softer, drawing more of our attention to the words written, rather than a constant barrage of action-packed sequences.
With that in mind, I have trouble believing Palahniuk was set on making Fight Club 2 something titanic. Though fans will, of course, continue to follow along, the writer seems more interested in indoctrinating new minds to the gospel of Tyler. To allude to an earlier point, this comic is far less concerned with rehashing the same old unless it was absolutely necessary. Instead, we’re given both a prequel and a sequel that slowly seems to engulf its original. Scale is heightened, but at times and in tandem with the art direction, this tale seems quite a bit more personal. Which, you know, is a bit odd considering this is basically a story of one man’s fight with himself.
Ultimately, Fight Club 2’s second episode is a bit more subtle, but also a lot more captivating in a slew of ways. It’s definitely not as in-your-face as its predecessor, but that’s okay. Maybe we need this proverbial smoke break before the blood-spewing jamboree that may await us in issue three.