Updated June 24, 2015 at 9:30 a.m. EST: An earlier version of this article had an advance review of Wolf #1. Image Comics sent this issue for Newsarama to review in advance, but after publication the publisher changed its position and asked that it be taken down until closer to the release date.
Fight Club 2 #2
Written by Chuck Palahniuk
Art by Cameron Stewart and Dave Stewart
Lettering by Nate Piekos
Published by Dark Horse
Review by Richard Gray
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
The first issue of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club 2 arrived with all the ferocity of a plane crash, and it is appropriately recapped as a handy in-flight safety card that recalls one of the most memorable pieces from the original book and film. If that first issue was all about the build up and the massive crash, the this second issue takes a very different approach by dealing with the immediate aftermath and more importantly, what emerges from the fire.
While missing some of intensity of the first issue, both visually and narratively, Palahniuk hits us with the immediate gut-punch of the possibility that Sebastian and Marla’s child has died when their house burned down. A short investigation later, both from the FBI and the internal psychiatrist kind, and the couple begin to suspect Sebastian’s alter ego Tyler Durden was involved in their child’s disappearance. Pondering the nature of Sebastian/Tyler’s duality, Palahniuk spends much of this issue poking the caged beast, almost daring it to emerge and take over the story before either of them is ready for it.
Tyler is restrained by the drugs and suburbia, but circumstances are such that he needs to be released. We know this because Sebastian knows this. Unlike the original story, where “Sebastian” narrated the discovery of Tyler, here we get Tyler’s point of view on being held “prisoner” inside his host. Given the chaotic and beautiful explosion of consciousness that debut last month, this issue of Fight Club 2 might seem as though it is holding back, but perhaps that is the point. Even in the face of his child’s own kidnapping, Sebastian has trouble unchaining the rage. Yet like the leads, Palahniuk knows how to push our fan buttons, dropping familiar lines (“I want you to hit me as hard as you can”) and locations to raise out expectations about where this story is heading. Yet why can’t we shake the feeling that Palahniuk is toying with us, ready to flip us upside-down without notice?
Similarly, Cameron Stewart doesn’t need the same visual flair this outing, putting some of the toys back in the box to be used at a later date. With a much more linear story, panelling is far more uniform, and the mood is reflected in Dave Stewart's sombre color scheme. The bureaucracy of the post-fire investigations and insurance is represented in those repetitive frames. They begin to break out when the character does, Sebastian articulating what he needs for a coing trip in a series of rapid-fire visuals of black clothing. The final shot of the issue, depicting a “uniformed” Sebastian (or is it now Tyler?) approaching a very familiar location has all the Gothic foreboding of a horror novel.
Reading Palahniuk’s Fight Club 2 in a serialized format is a curious approach, with those king hits of his that we’ve grown used to reeling from now given a comfortable distance from their consequences. While the temptation might be to trade wait and see how this all turns out in the end, the series provides a rare opportunity to see how Palahniuk’s mind unpacks something as complex as the dual narratives running here.
Public Relations #1
Written by Matthew Sturges and Dave Justus
Art by David Hahn and Hi-Fi
Lettering by Jared K. Fletcher
Published by Devils Due/1First Comics
Review by Justin Partridge, III
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10
Public Relations #1, at its heart, is a workplace comedy. The debut issue, hitting shelves proper on September 2, hits all the right notes that films like Office Space and How to Get Ahead in Advertising did, but with an extra special twist. Public Relations #1 tells the story of Dan Clover, a Dallas office drone who is holding a huge torch for the office intern, hip riot grrrl Threnody Dark, and debating if he should attend the 50th birthday party of his estranged father. It should also be mentioned that Dan’s father is the king of a sovereign nation in Europe called Sardonia, the only place on Earth where magic is real and thriving. Writers Matthew Sturges and Dave Justus take a fantastic hook and develop it within the confines of a witty and self-aware debut issue that is sure to make waves once the public is finally subjected to its charms.
Before we get into the real specifics, it should be said that Public Relations #1 is flat-out hilarious. Writers Sturges and Justus keep the jokes firing at a rate that would make early episodes of 30 Rock proud as Dave and Threnody banter, flirt and plunge themselves headlong into the insane landscape of Sardonia. After a solidly written cold open that flashes the audience forward to give us a peek at just what is in store for Dave and his fledgling start-up company, Sturges and Justus deposit us into the trenches of Dave’s Dallas office to show us the origin of Dave’s quasi-obsession with Threnody as well as how he operates as part of the stereotypical office dynamic. In other words, Dave is the boring guy in an office filled with boring guys, and his father’s invitation is the only thing that really sets him apart. The scenes in the office play well enough, mainly thanks to Sturges and Justus’ ultra-cool take on Threnody, who after this issue, is surely to become readers' favorite, but it isn’t until Dave and Threnody depart for Sardonia that things truly pick up. Sardonia is, for all intents and purposes, a weird pocket of the world that has yet to really be explored but Public Relations #1 does a fantastic job of introducing readers to this land without fully tipping its hand as to just how nuts it really is. Once Dave and Threnody finally touch down after their flight, they are greeted by Chip, their clueless, yet enthusiastic guide. Matt Sturges is no stranger to large casts, but Public Relations #1 replaces the bookish character set of House of Mystery with a group of idiots, weirdoes, and Dave’s horndog mother who has a very specific set of needs. I’ll let her explain them, but trust me, they aren’t the kind of needs to be discussed over dinner. Public Relations #1 has one hell of a hook, but its real charm comes with Sturges and Justus’ diverse and consistently funny cast.
Public Relations #1 isn’t just all punchlines and high fantasy hijinks however. Delivering some top notch visuals are penciler David Hahn along with the colors of Hi-Fi. Hahn’s grounded Phil Hester-like take on the characters and their mundane world really pops from the page thanks in part to his rounded lines as well as the vibrant colors of Hi-Fi, but like the script, things really pick up once we get to see Sardonia. Hahn effortlessly melds old world architecture and slick business chic as Dave and Threnody’s car glides across the cobblestone streets of the old world, all leading to a meticulously designed Dark Ages castle. Hahn also isn’t above throwing in his own gags along with the script’s huge pile. The favorite being Sardonia’s version of commercial air travel, which is a large, Fin Fang Foom-inspired dragon with an airplane cabin strapped to its back. This visual is introduced pretty early on in this debut but that doesn’t lessen its impact one bit. Thanks to Hahn and Hi-Fi, Public Relations #1 delivers both the sizzle and the steak in one hilarious and gorgeous-looking package.
We have all sat through our share of workplace comedies but never have we seen one quite like Public Relations #1. Mixing the mundane with the fantastic along with a hefty dose of laughs, Matthew Sturges, Dave Justus, David Hahn and Hi-Fi hit a home run that is just begging for an audience to experience it. Even though we are still a ways from its proper release in stores, this is a comic that needs to be on your radar yesterday. Comedy is a fickle mistress, especially in the medium of comics, but Public Relations #1 makes it look easy, on top of its playful mixing on genres. Mark your calendars, true believers. September 2nd is when you can pick up your new favorite comic and if Public Relations #1 is the bar being set, future issues have their work certainly cut out for them.