In “Fight Club 2” #5, creator Chuck Palahniuk blends elements from his original novel with some fresh twists, genuinely giving his follow-up something new to say rather than putting a spin on what his novel already delivered so well. At the same time, Palahniuk and artist Cameron Stewart revisit some of the elements and even characters from the first story, penning them with the same darkly comic touch both the novel and David Fincher’s film adaptation pulled off superbly. The revisitation gives this issue the same feel as Palahniuk’s original story, advancing the saga of Tyler Durden and the escalating mind games between him and his alter-ego Sebastian.
Last issue saw the return of a familiar character and, here, Angel Face’s post-beating visage is no longer all that angelic. Angel Face got his revenge on Sebastian last issue, which is where readers are brought in, with Stewart’s ultra-bloody rendition of Sebastian lying defeated. While it first appears this rematch is over, Palahniuk says otherwise almost immediately and, with the literal snap of the fingers, the two combatants are at it again, albeit with a decidedly different atmosphere. Palahniuk and Stewart have brilliant and understated synergy in this scene, as Stewart transforms Sebastian into Tyler and Palahniuk turns the mood around from one of defeat to one of sinister vengeance and punishment; even Nate Piekos’ lettering plays a part in this, with some disturbingly frank sound effects.
Historically, Palahniuk has largely eschewed open, third-party acknowledgement of Tyler/Sebastian’s personality issues, but here he addresses it and uses this brief exchange for some momentary comic relief, layering it atop the black, brutal comedy that underlies their disturbing actions. At this point, Palahniuk knows the dynamic between Tyler and Sebastian isn’t a shock anymore, so he uses it for other purposes that continue to benefit his story.
Sebastian returns to Project Mayhem to try and find his kidnapped son while Marla and her support group ally immerse themselves in a literal warzone at the private military security corporation Rize or Die, where Tyler/Sebastian also has some influence. It’s here Marla’s friend comes clean about her true condition and, in doing so, Palahniuk uses one of Marla — and Tyler’s — well-established tricks in a new and surprising way to further elevate the story.
Palahniuk doesn’t coast along with rehashed ideas from his novel, though; Project Mayhem has a new mission, the lines between Sebastian’s dreams and reality are blurred and drugs take on a more prominent role as Tyler schemes a way to try and eliminate Sebastian. Stewart uses some curious artistry here, covering the faces of those taking part in Project Mayhem with images of pills laid out to look as though they were set on top of the page. Different inferences can be made: it’s the drugs making the perpetrators undertake their deeds, the faces and identities of the individual members aren’t relevant or even the unshakable notion there’s a meaning yet to be revealed. Stewart, along with colorist Dave Stewart, also uses his art to deliberately and effectively obscure a key moment on the very last page, a critical twist that might be missed if readers aren’t paying close attention.
“Fight Club 2” #5 is the issue that amps up an already engaging and complex story, indicating this sequel just might be on par with the original.