For the first time since Daytripper began, regular series protagonist Brás de Oliva Domingos doesn’t actually physically appear in the story of issue #8. Instead, we’re shown how the lives of his wife and child are defined by his absence rather than by his presence. And the result is one of the title’s most effective and affecting character portraits yet.
In the reality with which we’re presented in this issue, an adult Brás is a successful writer who spends much of his time away from his family, on promotional tours for his books. There are parallels here with the way in which Brás’s father has been depicted in previous issues, but there are also pleasing differences between the two characters. Most notably, Brás’s determination to stay in touch with his family through e-mails, texts, voicemail messages, and letters even when he’s apart from them.
Even so, the portrait of this iteration of Brás as a warm and caring husband and father can’t help but feel tempered by the implication that he’s begun to hide behind his words, preferring to use one-step-removed methods of communication, comprised of unspontaneous, pre-conceived phrases, as a substitute for immediate face-to-face interaction. There’s also an implication that this approach is having a detrimental effect on his son, who is become isolated from his peers as he grows increasingly fixated on his father’s words as a substitute for the man himself.
The idea of Brás’s absence defining his family’s life is also reflected wonderfully by the issue’s cover, which shows Brás’s wife and son living their lives without him, within the negative space that’s left by his giant reverse silhouette. The interior artwork is just as strong, matching the writing in its ability to wring just the right amount of emotion out of a scene without pushing things so far that the book becomes overly slushy or sentimental. The panels depicting Brás’s empty home towards the end of the issue are a great example of this, feeling restrained and underplayed when other writers and artists might go for a more on-the-nose representation of the emotions being explored.
Of course, regular readers of Daytripper will know how the issue is destined to end, and the knowledge that Brás is unlikely to return home from his business trip hangs over the events of the rest of the issue. It gives his arms length interactions with his wife and son a bittersweet quality that they might not have on a first read if somebody was coming to this series for the first time (although by the time they see the reference to the death of Mufasa in Disney’s Lion King, I’m sure that even newcomers would be able to work out what was coming next).
It’s also satisfying to realize that the series has grown confident enough to barely spend any time explaining exactly why Brás died this time. Instead creators Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá give the audience credit for understanding that the series has never been about why or how people die, but has instead explored the effect that death has on those around us, and how we should embrace our lives as though each day is the last--because some day, it will be.
With only two more issues to go, I’m already feeling slightly disappointed that we’ve got so little Daytripper left to enjoy. It’s not often that a series with such an original concept comes along, and it’s even less common to see such weighty ideas explored with such a delicate touch, so I can’t help but feel dismayed that this title is going to be limited to just ten issues. Still, I suppose I should take a hint from the book’s core message, and try to make the most of these final installments. I’m sure the creators would rather I spent my time enjoying their work instead of worrying about the day when the journey will come to an end.
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