How far would you go to rescue your family? In the Fight Club universe, it means ingratiating yourself into an artisan soap making operation and/or into an international mercenary military corporation. Or possibly even traveling into the heart of Mogadishu. Then there’s also the matter of having your face smashed in.
While the tone of this series often aimed to capture a heightened level of intensity, this issue seems to be a bit more, let’s say, playful. Unfortunately, that defuses some of moments that are meant to be more intense, and the whole thing becomes hard to take seriously. Compounding the problem is that the son— the character that has now officially become just a MacGuffin to spurs our Narrator and Marla into action, as he’s been pushed more and more into the periphery of our plot. The characters (and reader) have to remark every once in a while “oh, yeah! Their son. That’s why all this is happening.”
In the real world, Fight Club has become so ingrained in our culture that jokes about the name or the “rules” or other aspects are quite second nature, so it’s only natural that the sequel itself takes up what has become tropes and play with them. Case in point— the set-up, a landscape panel that is identical to the Victorian house (or is it Edwardian? I can never tell) that Fight Club has made its headquarters, and the joke, that Marla undercuts the progress we think she is making by remarking simply “Quilt Club?”. Before that, however, there’s a completely gratuitous scene of the author making an appearance as leader of Write Klub (sic), which plays as something that was supposed to be funny in the vein of all this playfulness but instead comes across as a bunch of in-jokes that readers aren’t privy to.
Also, I think I missed something else because Marla uses the scrap of paper she gets from The Writer to find the Quilt Club, but The Writer also says to not call unless the plot lags. So, does this mean the writer himself is thinking the plot is lagging now? Well, my job as a reviewer is done when the writer and characters are doing it for me.
The comedy of the book is tempered a bit by the violence and despair, that tone of “intensity” that I mentioned earlier. There’s an attempted rape and a truly brutal one-on-one between Sebastian and a figure from his past, both of which are physically and emotionally wrecking. The art mirrors the interplay between the tones, with very typical straight-edged and regular panels for most scenes, until the violence disrupts the page and panels are haphazard, overlapping, or falling all over.
The last page says it all— the stamp of the Comics Code Authority, bloodstained and rendered in a distressed, blurred look with colors running and bleeding all over. It’s violent and disturbing but also comical and a visual narrative. Unfortunately, this issue doesn’t quite strike the right balance of the two, which seems to push the story into a universe of its own rather than being something very world-next-door. That’s okay, of course, but as the story moves more and more from “reality,” then a lot of the themes are becoming more and more disconnected from us.
Fight Club continues to keep us all on our toes— with some new roles and direction for Marla and her unlikely friends, as well as a whole bunch of self-referential jokes that want to play with the comedy of Fight Club’s world. Unfortunately, that means pushing things like actual characters (Tyler, the son) to the side while having to compete with more violent and serious scenes.