Fight Club 2, surprising no one, continues to be a wild, surreal ride through the scabbed-over psyche of the Angry Young Man. Issue 5 is out this week, and there are some big moments that Palahniuk, Stewart and Stewart sell the hell out of. In this issue, we see the fallout of Sebastian’s decades-after-the-fact rematch with Angleface, and Tyler snapping everyone right out of it. Sebastian has a dream (or is it?) that he is in a castle filled with great works of historic art, before being sent out on a space monkey mission that seems like it was never intended to end well for him. Meanwhile, in the conflict zone, Marla and her progerian companion have a truth session and Marla sees a little more of herself in the face of her companion. We also see a familiar face (rather, a familiar set of bitch tits) taking out guerillas from afar.
Something about the transition from prose to comics has made Fight Club 2 sing with a greater sense of urgency, and a more realistic, less cerebral approach. In reading about the first time the Narrator beat the shit out of Angelface, you could detach from the violence--it only got as brutal as you thought it would. In seeing some of the things that Cameron Stewart has illustrated in this run, beginning with the exploding head in issue 1 and continuing through the fine art defacing project in this issue, it becomes impossible to set aside the brutality of the work. For an added bonus, we got to measure that up against Chuck Palahniuk himself last issue, when he was reading pages at a very nice house drinking very nice wine with very nice friends; conceiving horrifying things in comfort is part of Fight Club’s mission statement.
Cameron Stewart and Dave Stewart’s willingness to play with the fourth wall as it exists in comics has been another delight for this series. With this issue, they take the device of the pills laying on top of the art and put them to narrative use, where each pill becomes an interchangeable space monkey, controlled by rat poison and vascoconstrictors and other increasingly ominous sounding medications. Where the first Fight Club was very much concerned with appearances of realism, this book knows that it’s fiction, but it also knows the social message it wants to push, and part of that is accepting that we have so many things that distance us from experiencing reality the same way everyone else does.
For as much as I love this book, the climax of the issue was almost too much for me. It brought up a lot of feelings from things that I struggle with, and really pierced deep. It’s been a long time since a piece of art has really shaken me up like that, and I am here to say that I applaud Palahniuk, Stewart and Stewart for making it happen. It’s a visceral climax as we approach the midpoint of this story, and if art can’t be affecting, then the entire space monkey mission was for nothing.
This go-round, Fight Club has gotten a lot meaner. It’s not the lean, cut fiction of the book; it’s a gargantuan fighter, with arms too long for you to box with them. It’ll beat you down, but you’ll be able to smile through your broken teeth. Keep going. Stick with it. I think everything is going to come together in the end.
Fight Club 2 #5 Writer: Chuck Palahniuk Artist: Cameron Stewart Colorist: Dave Stewart Lettering & Design: Nate Piekos of Blambot Publisher: Dark Horse Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 9/23/15 Format: Mini-Series; Print/Digital