All cards on the table, Fight Club is my favorite movie. It’s not the most expertly staged or most intelligently written film I’ve seen but it will always be the motion picture that spoke to me most. Tyler Durden, the work’s antagonist and self-help coach from hell, manifested in the psyche of unnamed protagonist when his life needed it the most, as he did for me. His indictment of the uselessness of the film’s unnamed protagonist’s way of living was an indictment of all of Western society at the twilight of the twentieth century. It was a different world then, “We have no great war… Our Great Depression is ourselves.” Less than two decades later we are juggling multiple wars and are just now seeing the end of a major national recession; what better time for Tyler Durden to pay a house call?
That’s right, Fight Club has a sequel. This is no ancillary, niche market tie-in. Original author Chuck Palahniuk pairs with Eisner-award winning artist Cameron Stewart, and jumps back in ten years from where we last left our anarchistic pugilists. We open on Edward Norton’s character, let’s call him ‘Jack’ as did the movie, loosely. He’s spent the past decade burying the ‘Tyler’ part of persona through a heavy barrage of mood stabilizers and antidepressants. He has receded into suburban malaise with Marla, who has since married and bore a child with him since we last left them at ground zero for Project Mayhem. Undeclared members of his Fight Club still address him as ‘sir’ but he denies his glorious past. All the while, loose pills scatter along the page of the comic, hinting at the pharmaceutical blockade he has erected against his better, albeit destructive, half.
Marla was attracted to the danger, the mystique, that he possessed while locked into his Tyler persona. With that long buried they are locked into this loveless marriage with a small child that resembles Jack’s imaginary friend more than he does his father. So what is a sexually frustrated wife to do other than swap his anti-psychotic medication with aspirin? Not surprisingly, this backfires and allows Tyler a backdoor to slip into reality with. Expertly rendered by Stewart, as he loses control over his own psyche, Jack’s panels are superimposed with Tyler’s interpretation of the world as well as his over-riding monologue, which gives a static medium the feel of dynamic tension between two narrators.
As his suburban dream crumbles to the nightmare of reality, Jack visits his hypnotherapist, whom we learn is a willing member of Project Mayhem and has been inducing Tyler during the sessions the entire time. With the pills losing their effectiveness and married life becoming more dissatisfying, Tyler pays a visit to Jack in the middle of the night and burns his house down with his family in it. Whether his young son escapes or not is left on a fitting cliffhanger with Tyler on the verge of subsuming his former host. Perhaps the most interesting development in this issue is the answer Tyler offers Jack when he is asked why he has returned, “…To say goodbye, the same way I told your father goodbye.” Which would indicate that Tyler has had plans in motion for generations now and is an incredibly dangerous idea to let loose in such a breakable world, one we as readers are all the better for.