Indie Comics Spotlight: Fight Club 2, The Order of The Forge, Mayday

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by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Fight Club 2

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“Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become, for all the people on earth had corrupted their ways. So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.”

The rules of Fight Club are pretty clear and well-established. There’s a honor amongst its members, adhering to the code and maintaining a level of devotion to the cause that rivals many cults and religions. It’s a fascinating paradigm and Dark Horse Comics is publishing a further exploration of it in Fight Club 2. The issue is written by Chuck Palahniuk, illustrated by Cameron Stewart, colored by Dave Stewart and lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot.

Ten years after starting Project Mayhem, he lives a mundane life. A kid, a wife, pills to keep his destiny at bay. But it won’t last long; the wife has seen to that. The time has come…

Fight Club is a fantastic book that was made into a movie that garnered a cult following upon home release, touching on themes of anti-establishment and delusions of grandeur. Fight Club 2 maintains many of those same themes, but realizing them is something of a payoff that the reader has to earn. Palahniuk picks up after the book’s ending, with Sebastian struggling through a seemingly mundane life with a bored wife in Marla Singer, a seemingly psychopathic son and a routine that’s a far cry from the chaos Project Mayhem is used to inflicting. Palahniuk structures the issue so that reader follows Sebastian’s steady decline into Tyler Durden, although the joke’s on Sebsatian because Tyler never really left in the first place. There’s a certain elegance to the vanity of Tyler and his arrogance in his beliefs, courtesy of Palahniuk’s ability to present those ideals in a way that’s more subtle than overbearing.

The flow of Stewart’s illustrations add to the overall atmosphere of the book. His lines are very clean, eschewing curves for sharp, angled faces and body structures. The creative use of insets and things like pills blocking out parts of pages is innovative and accentuates the declining mental state of the book’s protagonist. And each page relies on a unique page structure appropriate for the events on that page, as Stewart refuses to rely on traditional panel layouts for the entire book. The muted color palette by Dave Stewart casts a pall over the lives portrayed in the book, adding a level of griminess to their interactions that’s “brightened” at points by blood or bruises.

Fight Club 2 is really everything fans of the property could hope for and then some. It picks up after the book (not the movie) and maintains the personality that made the property so intriguing when it burst on the scene in the late 90s. Palahniuk’s pacing relies on a steady crescendo from calm to all-out panic, nudging the reader closer and closer to the edge before finally pushing them off. Stewart structures each page in a way that mirrors Sebastian’s mental state at the time, serving as an extremely powerful mechanism for presenting the staggering mediocrity of life that Tyler Durden finds so abysmal. Fight Club 2continues exploring the darker side of humanity in a way that makes everyone feel a little dirtier about themselves.

Fight Club 2 is in stores now.


Mayday #1

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“What they never show you…is what happens next.”

Not everyone is cut out for the pressure that comes with acting in Los Angeles. The area has a reputation for being chock full of big players, people wanting to be big players and former big players fighting to maintain that former lifestyle. It’s nothing if not interesting, but rarely is it ever boring. That’s especially true in Mayday #1 from Black Mask Comics. The issue is written by Curt Pires, illustrated by Chris Peterson and colored by Pete Toms.

A washed-up, drug-addicted screenwriter named Terrence Gattica and a transgender bartender named Kleio stumble onto a Satanic cult’s plan to sacrifice people all across LA (geomapped in the form of a pentagram, of course) and bring on armageddon. As our intrepid, damaged heroes embark on a suicide mission to stop the crazy cultists, even they wonder if this is all really happening or if they’re just plain crazy. Probably both.

For all its glitz and glamour, Hollywood has a seedier side that has a way of sucking some residents in through somewhat unbelievable circumstances. Pires captures this brilliantly in Mayday #1, as the events unfold in a way that proves the city is capable of devouring anyone with an addiction. The action throughout the issue is frenetic and ridiculous, seemingly out of a movie itself. Pires channels those misgivings of the city through Benicio Del Cocaine as a cult leader with a penchant for being on camera and practically embodies everything that’s perceived to be wrong with the LA culture itself. The self-aggrandizing culture pits Benicio against Terrence in many ways, as both are washed-up to some degree and are reacting to the city as a character in much different ways.

Thoroughly accentuating the sheer craziness of LA are Peterson’s illustrations. There’s a detached quality to his linework that bounces between seemingly normal interactions and much more hallucinogenic experiences, taking the reader through Terrence’s mindset as a front-seat passenger. Each page is packed with an array of panels, all of which keeps the reader’s attention moving extremely fast across the page. Toms’ coloring adds another means of altering the reader’s perception, as the misadventures of the characters are highlighted in a vibrant mix of 80s neons and 90s grunge colors. The smashing together of the two furthers the presentation of LA as a city rife with egos and an almost uncanny lawlessness.

Mayday #1 is a pretty unapologetic take on the egos and denizens of LA. It capitalizes on the anything goes mentality that churns out stars and has-beens with an insane consistency, building around that premise a story about two such characters struggling to find some normalcy in a world that’s anything but normal. Pires script is fast and pulls no punches, crashing through a day in the life with reckless abandon. Peterson’s illustrations boast an appropriate level of pop culture credentials, buoyed by Toms seemingly erratic color choices that work really well for the book. Mayday #1 is definitely a book that provides a cautionary tale to anyone seeking out the fame and fortune that comes with the bright lights of Hollywood.

Mayday #1 is in stores now.


The Order of the Forge #1

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“Not good? Lying does not become you George. You’re a Washington.”

George Washington was made the first President of the United States of America for a reason: many viewed him as a competent leader capable of shepherding the fledgling country through even more trying times. Before being the leader though, hew as a rambunctious youth, apt to get in trouble like any other youth. It’s a good bet that the trouble he gets into in The Order of the Forge #1 from Dark Horse is a lot different than what’s on record. The issue is written by Victor Gischler, illustrated by Tazio Bettin and lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot.

Before he fathered a nation, young George Washington forged his legend in blood. Imbued with the mystical powers of America’s original inhabitants, George—along with his friends Ben Franklin and Paul Revere—must stop an evil governor who wishes to rule an empire.

Taking events from the past and altering them is certainly nothing new, but not many stories do it with past American Presidents. The most famous work in this regard is probably Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and The Order of the Forge #1 proves if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, as Gischler is preparing to put George Washington into some situations even he can’t explain. The premise in the first issue features Washington being given a sort of Native American power, one which he doesn’t fully understand. Coming along for the ride are Paul Revere and Ben Franklin, both of whom Gischler ensures maintain enough characteristics that they’re recognizable to readers. He imbues them all with a frat boy mentality of sorts, something reflected in the crass language they always have at the ready for any situation.

Depicting Washington and his era is Bettin, whose work at least appears historic, if not a little simple. His focus is largely committed to the main characters of the book, ensuring their looks jive with what readers expect them to look like. Much of the surrounding environment isn’t really given much attention, save for Mt. Vernon and a few interiors here and there. Bettin handles action sequences very well, as the movements of the players feels kinetic and explosive–especially when Washington is brandishing an axe against tree or foe. There’s an abundance of inset panels that break up the standard layouts here and there, but by the end of the book it feels like the layout is nothing but insets.

The Order of the Forge #1 is an anachronistic book that wants readers to know how unruly the founders of America really are. Washington, Revere and Franklin are all icons when it comes to freedom and sacrifice, but the first issue makes them feel more like regular guys. Gischler’s characterization of them is one of crudeness and impulse; traits which may not necessarily be the first that come to mind for any of the three of them. Bettin’s art largely captures the spirit of the era, delivering looks that readers will recognize relatively easily. The Order of the Forge #1 starts off with an ambitious aim for Washington, even if it’s not entirely clear from the issue what exactly that aim is (other than an axe imbued with mysterious powers).

The Order of the Forge #1 is in stores now.


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