I am Grant Morrison’s shaking head.
Like many American males my age, I love Fight Club. I first saw the movie last year and was blown away. I immediately went out to buy the book, read it, then watched the movie again. I have quotes from it decorating my room. It inspired me to start working out again. I went and bought a leather jacket. I began hosting my own fight clubs in the basement of my local church, slept with a suicidal girl I had just barely met, burned the back of my hand with lye and saliva, seriously injured myself and framed my boss for it and then proceeded to blow up some of the largest bank buildings in my home city as my divergent personalities began warring with one another. Which is good. I didn’t want to die without any scars.
Tyler isn’t here
So what’s all this Fight Club 2 business? Well, there is, in fact, another book. Not a conventional book, of course – this is the Unmoving Picture Company! That’s right: Chuck Palahniuk, with the help of Cameron Stewart, Dave Stewart, Nate Piekos, David Mack, Dark Horse Comics and a table-full of Portland women bring us a 10-issue limited series chronicling the life of Jack/The Narrator/Sebastian about 10 years after the end of the original. We see “Sebastian” going through his routine now that he’s married to Marla Singer: mowing the lawn, taking two-dozen pills every day to keep away Mr. Durden, and watching their son. Things start to go awry, however, when Marla decides she wants Tyler back. Needless to say, Marla gets her wish, and we are thrown back into the world of Project Mayhem.
The first book, being crammed with so many ideas and tangents, is a lot to live up to in terms of ideas. But the sequel is still in ready supply of outlandish asides. We’re talking JFK conspiracy theories, musings on Joseph Campbell, multiple Bible references, vandalizing museums using one’s own blood, suicide epidemics, norse myths, Charles Manson and more! Palahniuk lives up to his legacy, provoking thought and controversy wherever possible, and presenting things in a riotous way. There’s a jab at the Comics Code Authority, sperm cells swimming across pages, and plenty of blood, all of which are sure to keep the fanbase thoroughly entertained.
Nothing is static
In regards to the physical copy, the binding of the book is pretty bad, not gonna lie. It feels like you can’t open the book all the way without breaking the binding a little and having the book automatically turn to that page every time. But hey, even the Mona Lisa is falling apart.
All the bits you loved about the first one are here, albeit in a different form (as one would expect). All of the best characters return and are given great moments. The pacing of the individual issues is near-perfect, ensuring that every reveal hits with full force. Marla’s character is fleshed out perfectly, her journey might be the most compelling one. Sebastian has lots of moments to shine, and we even see plenty of characters we presumed were dead! Our newest character, however, Marla and Sebastian’s son, acts more as a plot device than anything else after the first act.
The first rule is that you don’t ask questions
This book exists in a strange world. It is, I suppose, an extension of the author’s own surprise and awe at the cult success of Fight Club. In this town, Fight Club is still regularly shown in theaters and stars Edward Norton and Brad Pitt. Like, within the book. There are also many different spin-offs of Fight Club that the characters run into, all of which are pulled from the real world. It gets weirder: Palahniuk actually inserts himself and the other writers into the narrative, interacting with the characters whilst actively writing the story. It makes for a strange amalgam of the fictional world and the real, something reminiscent of a Grant Morrison story (I suppose I’m mostly thinking of that Animal Man issue). And, while I suppose it isn’t done poorly, it doesn’t exactly feel like it adds anything to the story save for a few weird/wild moments. The self-referential bits of this piece feel more and more like filler as we get closer to the end, dragging any sort of resolution further away from the reader. When the main story arc finally does resolve, it’s surprisingly simple and sensible, but it makes one wonder why we spend time with all this. Why not just make the story 9 issues instead of 10?
The final issue ends with Chuck and Tyler walking along the beach together. While I wasn’t super keen on this ending, the general thesis of this final scene works well within the narrative. Palahniuk shows us that no matter what he writes, Tyler Durden is an ideal; Tyler cannot be contained by conventional storytelling, no matter how meta. The id of every fanboy and writer has taken him over, his manifestation is even more real that Palahniuk’s and the creator will be outlived by his creation. Plot-wise, it makes for a strange end to the series, but in terms of theme it’s a decent finishing note.
Final Score: 7.0
Mr. Palahniuk has commented that he has plans for a third book, and that this one was here in part to test the water. He didn’t want to be too extreme seeing as how this was a new medium for him, and I commend him in his brave move into the world of comics. I have heard he wants the next one to be much more violent – “scarring” even – so keep your eyes peeled. As for this volume, if you were a fan of the first one (in book or movie form) you should definitely consider picking this up.
You probably shouldn’t buy it, though – the things you own end up owning you.