Luckily for all of us, Godzilla in Hell is not the only book on the shelves this month that makes explicit reference to, and plays with, the inherent dramatic structure of Dante’s Inferno. Fight Club 2’s third issue places the narrator, “Sebastian”, on the porch of the Project Mayhem house and makes it explicitly clear that he is in Limbo. There’s nowhere to go from Limbo but down. For as plot and business-heavy as the first two issues were, this one feels like a nice respite in a porch full of terrible people, as well as a manic experimentation with comic form. The issue as a whole is largely the narrator dreaming of Tyler, having conversations with other people on the porch, examining their new Project Mayhem homework (as a guy who is fucking petrified of needles, Operation Lethal Injection almost made me throw up) and showing just how far the influence of that house goes. Once the narrator passes through porch-Limbo, Tyler helps give him that last final push into the story proper.
This comic is tough to review in terms of issues and final beats and cliffhangers; for as committed as Palahniuk and Stewart are to making the Fight Club universe fit into the comic medium, they’re still playing it as a long novel game, especially in its 12 issue format. They’ve shown a willingness to poke and prod at what works in comics since the first issue and their use of the pills and flowers that separate us from the art, which they continue in this issue with blood splatter. They’re not working gimmicks; you can tell there’s a real love of comic books and prose going on here, and they’re constantly finding new ways to make that into an interesting synthesis.
Particularly in this issue, they’re not even concerned with pretending there’s a fourth wall between the comic and the reader. One character takes a phone call from “Mr. Palahniuk” and references a “Ms. Cain,” presumably Chelsea Cain, who is thanked along with Matt Fraction at the beginning of each issue as the “flight crew”. How and when that will come into play (or if it will at all) is anyone’s guess, but with as much fun as Palahniuk and Stewart are having with this story, it may just be a sly wink and nod to the fact that this story takes place in the “Real World,” and Palahniuk himself, renowned novelist Chelsea Cain, and award-winning comic writer Matt Fraction are all involved in the edges of Project Mayhem. Add on to this that Tyler and Sebastian are presented as two separate people, in even more extreme terms than in the original novel: when Tyler and Sebastian switch places, it’s almost like a comic book-y extradimensional shift, where one literally replaces the other, instead of being two people with one face. Add in the aesthetic differences between Sebastian and Tyler, and it’s making excellent use of the medium to get something across efficiently that we already know: Tyler makes the moves, Sebastian tries to stop him.
One striking thing that I’m eagerly anticipating a payoff for is the use of a lot of Old Testament biblical imagery. In the book and the film, there’s a lot of anger at absent fathers, and what better counterpoint to that than the use of an angry absent father named God, and his subjects, Moses and Noah? They follow his orders blindly and they save humanity, but they suffer for it; they’re some of the first flawed heroes, drunks, spilling their seed on the ground without consideration for the wishes of God.
This series is interesting every month in ways that feel wholly original instead of pandering to fans of the original. Add in the fact that the film and the novel lacked the exquisite talents of Cameron Stewart on the drawing board every month, and this is a comic that is not to be missed.
Fight Club 2 #3 Writer: Chuck Palahniuk Artist: Cameron Stewart Colorist: Dave Stewart Lettering & Design: Nate Piekos of Blambot Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 7/22/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital