“Daytripper” #4 shouldn’t be as good as it is. Beginning with a cliche, the issue should fall apart. BrÃ¡s de Oliva Domingos is 41 and his wife is about to give birth to their first child and, just as they’re on the way to the hospital, there’s a phone call. Leaving it for voice mail, BrÃ¡s doesn’t hear the message left by his mother that something has happened to his father. At the hospital, BrÃ¡s goes for a cigarette and finds his mother downstairs, smoking, where she tells him that his father has died. Died in the hospital where his first child, a son, is about to be born. It shouldn’t work, it should induce groans and rolling eyes, but, instead, this comic is poetic and touching, executed with such careful skill, so steeped in the humanity of BrÃ¡s, that even a cliche can rise above itself.
The first to take place after the events of first issue of the series, this issue provides a glimpse of what’s to come for BrÃ¡s, adding to the context of the series. Here, he’s published his first novel, is married, is happy, about to be a father, but, because of his own father, rarely does he smile. So much of this issue is devoted to him looking sad, a feeling captured exquisitely in the art. The contrast between BrÃ¡s before and after his father dies is noticeable. Before, he looks a little worried, a little befuddled as he tries to get his wife to the hospital, but there’s an undercurrent of joy that comes through. After, he can’t escape the sadness; his eyes, especially, always betray that inner feeling of loss. Only when his son is born does it disappear momentarily.
BrÃ¡s’ relationship with his father takes center stage here, but Moon and BÃ¡ maintain a distance from his inner thoughts. We receive hints at what BrÃ¡s is feeling, but not much direct insight. That distance helps the issue maintain the air of poetic mystery that stems off the drudgery of the cliched plot. They avoid telling us directly what’s happening all of the time, presenting it as more of a dream, something that we see BrÃ¡s experiencing, something he does, but not necessarily with anything other than third-person narrative captions to guide us from time to time. A callback to the first issue, for example, is never spelled out, but holds so much meaning because of what we know from that issue. The ending, again, shows us his father’s office and how he looks while in it, but what’s going on inside of him exactly is left to us.
Because of the writing, much of pressure of storytelling falls on Moon’s shoulders in the art, where how characters look convey what they’re feeling and thinking. BrÃ¡s’ sadness, even as he looks at his pregnant wife in the hospital, her reassuring, loving eyes looking at him, doesn’t leave him, it’s only mixed with love. Moon’s art doesn’t seek to replicate reality, seeming to present how things feel. Spaces are important in the issue, as he will pull back often to show how characters fit into their settings. They’re dwarfed by them throughout the issue it seems, the world too big for these little people dealing with their problems that mean more to them than anything, but are so commonplace. BrÃ¡s, in particular, is left in the empty world, still feeling his father, but his father isn’t there.
A nice, small touch is in Dave Stewart’s colors where BrÃ¡s’ hair is colored in a lighter manner, hinting at it going grey. It’s remarkable, because the hair is still brown like it has been throughout the series, but it lightens just a small amount in degrees as you look from the top of his head to his temples. It’s so well done that you can see it immediately, but, when you examine the colors closely, it’s not readily apparent. As well, Stewart colors this issue with lots of blues and greens, getting away from the reds and browns of previous issues, giving the issue a colder, sadder, and, oddly, masculine feel that ties into the story well.
“Daytripper” slowly, somehow, continues to improve with each issue, revealing more of BrÃ¡s’ life, always ending with his death. Moon and BÃ¡ craft these small, touching, poetic comics that resonate with one another, building up emotions, and drawing the reader in more and more with each passing page, each passing panel. It shouldn’t work, but it does. Boy, does it.