By Chuck Palahniuk, Cameron Stewart, and Dave Stewart.
Fight Club #9 picks up with our characters on the brink of the Tranquility Gambit when all hell breaks loose. That is what this issue feels and looks like, all hell just breaking loose and characters either falling apart or coming together. Palahniuk and the creative team of Stewart and Stewart are working toward the climatic events that will end this arc in issue 10, but readers gain a lot of information this issue about what Tyler Durden’s plans were with the Tranquility Gambit, true intentions of some characters, and the reuniting of our main family unit of Sebastian, Marla, and Junior.
It almost feels like Fight Club 2 is a self-contained story in a comic book that just happens to have some similarities in characters and themes as a book and movie by the same name. Basically, this is a solid stand-alone story that could have existed without the two predecessors. If someone has never read the book or seen the movie, they could still appreciate and be shocked at the twists and turns this book and overall arc of the series have taken. The book and movie expressed resentment with growing up, the disillusionment with the “American Dream” and the anger that grows from when you realize you are just a sheep within a flock of larger sheep and you are not ‘special’. The story and overall theme from Fight Club 2 is rooted within what happens when you get past the initial stages of growing up and what happens when you have a family. Perhaps Palahniuk is relating his own life stages with those of Sebastian and Mr. Durden, but the anger and resentment we felt in the first story has grown with our protagonist. There are deeper issues associated with disillusionment about having a child, the impostor syndrome of being a parent or spouse, and the overall disappointment with the state of the world to have said family. There are expectations that come with growing up that everyone has to deal with, the expectation society places to have kids, get married, and be a contributing member to society to improve the world with our actions and choices. When people fulfill those imposed obligations, some may feel unattached from it all, the aforementioned impostor syndrome, and then resentment can grow. Those are issues that people who grew up reading the first Fight Club are now dealing with and can once again relate to the overall themes Palahniuk throws at them. With only one issue left to tie up all the loose ends, this issue wastes not a single page to set up the climatic finale that readers have been waiting ever so patiently for.
When the Tranquility Gambit is revealed, it becomes clear the route Palahniuk is taking this story, with the Tranquility Gambit doing to humanity what Project Mayhem did to debt in Fight Club. Basically, Mr. Durden is following along other cleansing myths that perpetuate humanity needs to be cleansed and started anew with the best and the brightest for the betterment of society and humanity. Palahniuk really taps into current sentiments from this generation around dissatisfaction with the state of the world with global warming and people who do not know how to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. However, Palahniuk does a great job comparing the concept of the Tranquility Gambit to relatable cleansing myths that are found in Christianity with Noah’s Ark, and the Norse myth of Ragnarok. He did not fall for the easily overused clichés of comparing the societal chaos to some war-torn countries in the Middle East that you see often employed.
Palahniuk just lays down so much plot and planning throughout this series that you may find yourself reading past issues to find connections. That is the brilliance that is Palahniuk; he pays off his climatic endings that are usually accompanied with an unexpected twist. This issue offers one particular twist that really adds value to a particular character and explains some behavior from past issues. Another plot device to further the story has been using as of late is the fourth wall breaking of having Palahniuk himself in drawn form communicating with Sebastian to assist him in stopping the Tranquility Gambit. It is not necessary for Palahniuk to insert himself into the story to create another realm of reality to balance between the multiple others that are layered on top of each other. The story follows Sebastian in current time attempting to thwart Mr. Durden’s plan, Mr. Durden in the past reciting his speech introducing the end of the world, and now Palahniuk and his room of writers commenting on the projection of the story.
The art in this series from Cameron Stewart and Dave Stewart has been just a spectacular accompaniment to the writing style of Palahniuk. The pacing of the art fits the mood masterfully, and the use of imagery throughout this issue is just so good it’s stupid. The art gives the reader the sense of first-hand perspective of events, like the bouquet of roses being thrown down on one page. The next page has scattered rose petals around the petals to give the illusion the roses fell in your lap. This is also done again with iodine pills in a later scene. Another thing that is particularly unique about the creative team of Palahniuk, Stewart and Stewart is the use of creating the feeling of being in Sebastian’s situation of missing memory and time by obscuring texts and dialogue, particularly those associated with Tyler Durden. This is so effective due to the great use of illustration filling in gaps and also context clues.
This book has touched a nerve with fans of the old Fight Club story and new fans because it shows the current state of a generation. Even if you’re not ‘special’ it does give the feeling that you are not alone. The creative team does not underestimate the reader’s intelligence and the story is definitely not being spoon-fed here. You may find yourself reading and rereading the book to pick up on things, but isn’t that what a good book does? It challenges your thinking with the fast action and plot developments around important themes that are rooted in the current state of society.