One of the strangest and most surprising announcements to come out of Comic Con last year was that Chuck Palahniuk would be continuing the story of Fight Club as a 10 issue maxiseries at Dark Horse. While he has many die hard fans, this 1996 novel remains his seminal work, certainly partly due to the fantastic 1999 film adaptation by David Fincher. Fans of the book or movie will remember, however, how the story ends: with its unnamed protagonist standing with Marla Singer as they watch skyscrapers implode and fall, presumably toppling the world economy as everyone's credit resets to zero. So where do we go from there, and does the first issue of Palahniuk and the venerable Cameron Stewart's graphic sequel live up to the lofty cult fame of its predecessor?
The comic picks up 10 years after the events of Fight Club. But before that, we get a fun questionnaire for aspiring members of Project Mayhem, cluing us in that Tyler's army is in some way still active. From there we learn that the nameless protagonist now has a name, Sebastian, and that he is living a life very close to the one before he "met" Tyler. The obvious difference here is that he is now married to Marla and they have a 9-year-old son, only called Junior, who is quite adept at making dangerous things with household chemicals. Sebastian is on an intense pill regimen, and Marla is finding herself bored, again lurking in support groups.
There's a lot of story here in these 25 pages; while it feels like Palahnuik was getting his footing in the world of comic scripting as he went along, there are some great moments. The comic medium allows for some fantastic visuals that a movie couldn't really pull off, like when Sebastian wishes he could "plant a bomb and explode all the worthless furniture" stored in his head and we are treated to Stewart's rendition of this violent metaphor. It is in these moments, the ones that enrich the emotion and mood rather than pushing the plot forward, that really recall the wonderful counterculture of Fight Club.
We're left largely in the dark for the first several pages as to the status quo, but there's where the main problem lies–it seems like somehow no time has passed and the ending of the original has almost not happened. There is one page that explains this away, showing that while Sebastian proclaimed guilt for the things Project Mayhem did, no one believed him and he was put in a mental asylum temporarily. However, this world is not the radically altered one we last saw; in fact, with the exception of some worldwide turmoil (which is unfortunately not outside of the norm for our real world) and the occasional fight club member recognizing Sebastian, it seems like the near post-apocalyptic ending of Fight Club never happened. Tyler Durden makes an interesting return about three quarters in, which is where things begin to get more intriguing as Sebastian's life takes a familiar turn towards destruction, but by then I already felt like something wasn't quite right here.
many ways, the story and the way it is told here is very reminiscent of
the beginning of the original story–unfortunately, that's the most
forgettable part of Fight Club. The story so far is not what I expected, and I suppose I can't hold that against it too much, but expectations do play a large role in how any kind of sequel is viewed. While there are a few really awesome moments where the story comes alive and crackles (both in script and art) with the energy of the original, those scenes stand apart from the rest, which falls flat and seems oddly inauthentic to the world that it should be taking place in.
It is important, however, to keep in mind that this is only a first chapter. The art is great, and there are some interesting narrative ideas being played with here, and this is only 10% of the full story. The first scenes in the original Fight Club, as mentioned before, are not all that interesting; they essentially set the stage for everything Tyler will eventually break down and destroy, and there are enough seeds here that hint in that direction to make me intrigued as to where it will go. But of what we've got so far, I can't say I feel that differently than Sebastian and Marla do: unsatisfied and starving for the excitement of the good old days.