A CCW Review: Daytripper #3

Posted: February 18, 2010 in CCW Review, DC Comics, Vertigo
Tags: , , , ,

Title: Daytripper #3(of 10)
Writers: Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba
Artists: Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon
Coloring: Dave Stewart
Publisher: Vertigo
Cost: $2.99
Reviewed by: Ironmuskrat

I have always feared death, even as a kid I would lie awake at night and wonder what happens to you after you check out for the last time. It seem to consume me more than most kids. I don’t know if it was the mystery of what happens after you die or the basic unfairness of death and the arbitrary nature of it’s judgment. I would really like to think there is a cosmic plan to the universe where everything happens for a reason and every choice you make in your life, no matter how bad it seems, works out for the best in end. Of course, that is just wishful thinking. People do waste their time on this planet or die young or even live long, joyless lives because of the decisions they have made. My attitude towards life was fairly poor when I was young. Does it really matter what you do in your life, if the end result was always going to be death anyway? But a strange thing happened when I turned forty, I still thought about death, but now I was consumed not so much with the end of my life, but everything that happens before it. Have I lived life to the fullest? Made the right choices in my life? Loved the right people or made the best decisions for my family and friends? What if I could do it all over, would I still take the same path?

Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba  has really struck a cord with me. They seem to be using this miniseries to explore many of the concepts of life and death that I spent many years thinking about myself.  The story centers around Bras de Oliva Domingos, an utterly normal man that appears to be living a extraordinary life. It’s impossible to talk about the third issue of this series without going back to explore the first two. Moon and Ba have constructed a nonlinear story that jumps back and forth in different periods of Bras life and you will find yourself going back to read previous issues to find pieces of the overall story. If you are looking for a simple story  hat is spoon-fed to you I think you will find this book a bit frustrating. In issue number one Bras is a 32 year old man who writes obituaries for his local newspaper while also working on a book in his spare time. Like most people he is not completely happy with his job, family or life in general. He confides in his best friend, Jorge, about his disappointments, his fears and hopes for the future. Bras’ father is a man of some fame and reputation whose success seems to cause a bit of resentment in Bras, who appears to be reluctant to attend a special event for his father. After speaking to his mother and wife(maybe) he decides to attend the event for his father. However, before Bras can attend the event he is killed in a botched robbery at a bar where he gone into to buy cigarettes. That’s right, the protagonist of our story dies in the first issue.

The second issue finds Bras alive and well, vacationing with his friend Jorge, in Brazil. Bras is 21 years old in this issue, 11 years before he dies in the first book. Bras and Jorge spend lazy days and nights on the beach, living in one of those dreamy, endless vacations that can only exist when you are young and have no responsibility in your life. Bras meets Olinda, a beautiful, sexy Brazilian woman(are there any other kind?) while swimming in the ocean. A quick romance follows and Bras finds himself trying to rendezvous with the woman he has fallen in love with out on the ocean one more time before he leaves Brazil. The story ends with Bras apparently drowning in the ocean waiting for the love of his life.

So does Bras die in book number three? Well, yes (that is not a spoiler at this point), but the more important question is what are the circumstances of his death? Issue three takes place seven years after the second issue, when Bras is 28. We find that he is living with Olinda  back home. Well, actually at the point where we enter the story Olinda has left Bras after fighting with him. It’s one of those silly fights young people have when they are disappointed with the direction of their lives and find fault in the people around them and not with themselves. Bras is taking the breakup very hard and tries to confide in his father and Jorge who both give him advice on the nature of love and relationships, but it does little to console him. Bras continues his life alone and depressed until he has a chance meeting in a coffee shop with a striking women that catches his eye. They do not speak, but she meets his gaze and leaves no doubt about the sudden, powerful attraction between them. Unsure of what to do Bras leaves the shop and continues about his daily routine. However, he cannot get her out of his mind and he makes the rash decision to run back to the shop to talk to her. Bras is then suddenly killed after running in front of a truck while trying to return to the coffee shop.

Three issues and three deaths for out hero, Bras. What does this all mean? Are Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba commenting on the unfairness of life and death? Or are they commenting on the meaningless of life? After the first issue I was impressed with the story, but disappointed with the ending. I really liked Bras, he was an average guy just trying to do the right thing and he was killed for apparently no reason. Then he shows up in the next issue very much alive to my surprise and then dies again. What the hell is going on here? I liked the character of Bras even more after the second issue and he was killed yet again. The second book really struck me emotionally because of an experience I had when I spent two weeks in Spain while stationed in Germany. It was a surreal experience to say the least. Seemingly endless days on the beach and wild nights chasing women who were more than willing to let me chase them. I met a beautiful woman in a very similar fashion as Bras had meet Olinda, things didn’t work out quite as well(or quite as bad depending on how you look at it) for me. But what if it had worked out between us? How would my life have changed if she had decided to stay with me?  Still, the fact Bras kept dying at the end of every book bothered me. What did that mean in the overall picture of the story that was being told? When the third book arrived, I came into it with a rather jaded eye, OK, so how was Bras going to die this time? And what was the overall meaning of this book anyway?

The third book was a bit different, Bras is more than willing to argue with his girlfriend about silly things, and comes off as kind of a self-centered dick in the story. Perhaps Bras wasn’t the hero I though he was, had he done something to deserve to die repeatedly? I had to go back and reread the last two issues. There are parts of the story presented in the first two books that didn’t make sense until I read the third book. The woman he meets in the third book is his wife or girlfriend in the first book. So was it a good thing that his relationship didn’t work out with Olinda? What if he had worked things out Olinda and had never meet his future partner? What if he had decided to not attend his father’s special event? He would still be alive perhaps, but would his relationship with his father ever be the same? This wasn’t a simple story about how life sucks and then you die. This story was about everything that happens before that moment of death.  In this story death isn’t the end, it represents the choices you make in your life.  How you handle those random encounters in your life that can change the course of everything around you. Do you take a chance and go for it? Do you take the safe path and keeps thing the same way they have always been?

I cannot do justice to this story trying to explain it, the complexity and depth of what is happening in this book really is beyond my abilities to express in witting. There is just so much going on here you will find yourself rereading it over and over again to find bits and pieces that you missed before or parts that did not make sense until you have reached later books of the story. The artwork is also incredible, it really lends itself to the dreamlike quality of story.

At first, the multiple deaths in the story upset me quite a bit, but by the third book I was a bit jaded by them. I think that is sort of the point that Moon and Ba are trying to make here. Death is the easy part, living your life the best way you can and taking chances that may either bring happiness or ruin is the hard part.

After reading the first three book of this series I feel a little better about my place in life and perhaps by the time issue ten comes around I will be sleeping a little better at night.

  1. Deemar says:

    Musky just outstanding, dude you went deep with this review and much appreciated. That there pretty much sold me on this book and I think most people think about their mortality hell I thought about that shit constantly in Iraq.

    Daytripper reminds me of Quantum Leap so maybe time travel has something to do with the overall story. Either way excellent review and can’t wait for the next review homie. 🙂

    • Ironmuskrat says:

      Thank you for the kind words Deemar. I almost scrapped the review half-way through, I though it was getting a little too personal and I started to think that people would be turned off by all my blabbering. However, every time I tried to restart the review I found myself coming back to talk about the same experiences. I finally said “the hell with it” and just started writing from the heart.

      I would be lying if I said I knew what was going on in the overall storyline. Time travel could be as good a explanation as any at this point. But that is part of the fun of Daytripper, it makes you think =)


  2. generaldark says:

    i picked up the first issue but my shop has not been getting the other issues 😦

  3. Pobra says:

    This reads more like a thesis than a comic book review, you’ve completely sold me on picking up the eventual trade IM. I would try to hunt down the issues (my LCS isn’t carrying this title either) but it sounds like this will make a great trade.

  4. phil says:

    I have also have had anxieties about death, I.M. In my youth especially, laying in bed at night, pulse quickening, heart racing and the whole nine. I don’t know if this comic series will be my cup of tea, but I can definitely relate.

    Nice breakdown, I.M.

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