In both the original novel and its comic book sequel, writer Chuck Palahniuk delivered surprises that went well beyond established expectations. He and artist Cameron Stewart continue that tradition in “Fight Club 2” #10, the conclusion to his series. However, the actual conclusion took place last issue, and — while Palahniuk makes it very clear that the events he alluded to over the series really did happen — the remainder of this issue reads more like a lengthy epilogue than the final twist in Palahniuk’s story. Palahniuk’s revelation a few issues back regarding who — or what — Tyler Durden truly is comes fully to the forefront here, making it a natural extension of the story, but it’s also arguably its breaking point.
First off, though, is David Mack’s terrific and beautifully symbolic cover with its dark but stylish technique, which plays perfectly into the mythology of the “Fight Club” franchise. Inside, Stewart revels in big-budget destruction that dwarfs the events in the conclusion of David Fincher’s film adaptation of the novel. Iconic landmarks aren’t just destroyed; they’re obliterated, and colorist Dave Stewart brings plenty of fire to accompany it. The artists’ transition from this destruction to a bright and sunny landscape is even more effective and jarring; this peaceful new location serves as the surprising locale for the remainder of the issue, replete with a rather odd but striking image that symbolizes the transition and impacts the rest of the storyline.
Palahniuk has peppered his story with fourth-wall breaches, but the final transition is a permanent and final one that dominates the issue. In this scene, Palahniuk himself celebrates the end to his story surrounded by his wine-imbibing team, who are a little skeptical of the conclusion he conjured up. When taken into the context of his story, it’s a transition that makes perfect sense, but the level of importance (and amount of page time) he devotes to it is excessive; readers will likely expect a return to the world of Sebastian and Marla, which never happens.
It’s a bold gamble on Palahniuk’s part, but it’s up to readers to decide whether or not it succeeds. It feels similar the switcheroo Marvel Studios pulled with the Mandarin in “Iron Man 3”; it works, sure, but it’s momentarily distracting and ultimately divisive for the audience. Palahniuk adds a sort of self-deprecating vibe to the entire sequence as his conclusion is second-guessed by his colleagues and his audience, but his acknowledgment of the story’s abrupt turn doesn’t necessarily sell it to the crowd. Even with some thought and analysis that justifies this turn of events, the ever-evolving ending still comes across as though Palahniuk has just watched the final scenes of “Wayne’s World.”
Still, there’s a thrill to the audacity of Palahniuk’s conclusion, and — despite the jarring twist — it’s still a chapter that still manages to captivate. In previous issues, Palahniuk established Tyler Durden as far more than a mere symptom of Sebastian’s personality disorder; in fact, Palahniuk even postulates that nothing was ever wrong with him in the first place and explores this aspect of Tyler to its fullest extent. That extent is what justifies such a shark-jumping turning point, and — while the level of acceptance for this particular twist might be lower — it’s nonetheless well within the boundaries Palahniuk established before he broke them down.
In breaking down the barriers between creator and creation, Palahniuk explains many of the oddities seen throughout the series, like the photographic pills which often obscured Nate Piekos’ word balloons. Overall, “Fight Club 2” #10 brings Palahniuk’s thought-provoking story to a sufficient close, but what persists is the nagging observation that his story would have been all-but-perfect had he not broken through the fourth wall one last time.