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Daytripper #10

Posted: Monday, September 20, 2010
By: Dave Wallace

Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá
Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, Dave Stewart (colors)
DC Comics/Vertigo
To quote a cliché, "all good things must come to an end". So it is with Daytripper, which reaches its conclusion with an issue that sums up many of the themes of the series so far -- even if it doesn't tackle the book's messages so directly that it feels like creators Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá are wrapping everything up too neatly.

The version of Brás de Oliva Domingos that we meet in this issue is the oldest one yet, and the story immediately addresses the notion of the impending demise that followers of the series will by now expect the character to meet in the issue's closing pages. This Brás has a life-threatening cancer, and he's quickly shown to be fully aware of that fact.

By not only making Brás aware of his imminent death, but having him embrace it -- opting to live out his final days in the way that he wishes rather than submit to yet another course of cancer treatment -- the issue subverts the usual Daytripper formula of having Brás's death coming out of the blue for the character at the end of the issue. (In fact, it subverts this formula even further, but to say more about that would be to spoil things).

Immediately addressing the question that will be burning in the minds of most readers (how is Brás going to die this time?) leaves the rest of the issue free to explore other matters. These might at first seem mundane, dealing as they do with the day-to-day existence of the elderly Brás, and touching on various relationships in his extensive family. But ultimately, these are the things that Daytripper has always tried to remind us are the important things in life: the building blocks around which everything else is constructed, whether we're aware of that or not.

The issue's centrepiece, a lost letter written by Brás's father to him on the day that Brás's own son was born, encapsulates another of the series' key themes: that life is about shared experiences between different people, the strongest of which take place within families, particularly between children and their parents. It also makes explicit the series' central message: "Only when you accept that one day you'll die can you let go and make the best out of life". It's a message that could risk seeming twee or trite if it wasn't backed up by nine previous issues that express it so eloquently.

I've written about the book's artwork enough times in the past that I'm at risk of repeating myself here, but this issue again shows Moon and Bá's talents for bringing a sense of truth and realism to every aspect of Brás's world, contrasting the quietness of his life as an old man with the lively spirit that's present during each of the character interactions. Nothing in Brás's life is overstated -- even Dave Stewart's colours seem consciously restrained -- and it helps to create one of the most realistic-feeling comics I've had the pleasure to read, despite the stylised nature of the linework.

To be completely frank, this is not the best issue that the series has produced (although that's to hold it to a high standard, as there have been some excellent earlier entries). And in all honesty, I feel as though the more surreal and metaphorical tone of the previous issue (#9) would have made it a better finale for the series than this chapter. But this is nonetheless a pleasant, uplifting story that makes for an understated and gentle swansong for Daytripper, whilst also summarising many of the series' central themes.



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