After three issues, the narrative pattern of “Daytrippers” is clear: each issue focuses on a sequence from the seemingly-humble life of Bras de Oliva Domingos, and each issue ends with his death — and his obituary. Each death is different, and no attempt is made to explain how one man can die so many times.
This isn’t a Batman comic. It isn’t a comic about someone who can rise from the dead. It’s a comic about the powerful passions in the everyday. The moments that truly matter in life. And the recursive endings imply magical realism at work, but mostly they just provide self-contained endings. Each issue of “Daytrippers” reads like a short story, a mini-tragedy in comic book form.
Maybe there’s a larger scheme at work that will “explain” the repeated deaths of Bras, but I don’t expect one. Because this structure seems designed to emphasize emotion over reason, and yet it’s a shrewd one. Had the brothers Moon and Ba written this as a collection of short stories about different character each issue, it wouldn’t have half of the power it has now. By telling one-issue stories with beginnings, middles, and ends, and yet using the same protagonist and some of the same supporting characters in each issue, Moon and Ba do what so few serialized comics are capable of doing: build a world from issue to issue, while making each individual story matter.
Because what matters here is life and death. These are not small little slice-of-life narratives about a character’s new job, or day at the park, or failure to find a place to rest his head. These are mighty explorations of the major themes of life, and in issue #3 we get the most major of all the major themes: love.
This is a love story. A tragic, grueling, realistic, romantic, painful, evocative love story about what was, what could have been, and what might yet be…if not for the blind whim of fate. And though Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba always draw great-looking comics, this may be own of their very best. With love on the line, they pour everything onto the page.
As I mentioned when I reviewed the first issue, this is a comic that has a strong literary bent. Its narration isn’t afraid to be prosaic, and its thematic implications are clear on every page. But while I saw that as a weakness of the first issue, I see it as a strength here. It’s unashamed in its attempt to turn life into art.
And with “Daytrippers” #3, what beautiful art it is.