“Chapter Three: 28″
By: Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá
Coloring: Dave Stewart
Lettering: Sean Konot
I wanted to review Daytripper when the first issue came out, before the blog existed. We set it up and issue two came out, and I still wanted to review it. I couldn’t bring myself to do it, though, and I’m glad I waited. Reviewing this series on the first issue wouldn’t have done it any justice or allowed me to really say anything; as it stands, I’m still hesitant to speak up on the third issue, because it’s going to be a work that’s judged on its whole. In a market where a great book like S.W.O.R.D. gets cancelled by the numbers on its third issue, it’s a pretty bold statement on Vertigo’s part to release something that’s not even going to really start to make sense until issue three. A lot of things started to click for me when I read “28” last night, however, and I feel like it’s time to talk about it.
One of the best discoveries I made in film school was the work of Krzysztof Kieślowski. He had a way of taking normal, everyday moments in life and elevating them to levels of great importance and meaning. This worked to tie the everyday existence of his characters into the arching theme of the film, oftentimes resulting in the medium itself or one of its aspects taking a role as one of the characters. The camera in Red is as much an actor as Irène Jacob; the music in Blue is working as hard as Juliette Binoche. They all, in turn, work towards the common meaning, avoiding hitting the viewer over the head with it but still carrying the message. It’s done with purpose, but not didactically, and the end result is lyrical.
Bá and Moon are in the process of accomplishing the same thing with Daytripper. On the surface, each issue is a slice of Brás de Oliva Domingos’ life; not random, meaningless moments, but the normal points of focus we all encounter. The day we meet someone, the day they leave our lives. A trip somewhere you may never go again, an important milestone for someone close to you. It’s a tribute to the twins’ writing that Brás’ internal dialogue is completely natural while maintaining the poignancy. He’s easy-going and instantly relatable, a character the reader can empathize with in the first few pages of the book.
Each issue has its own theme, at least so far, and this is where the similarity to Kieślowski really comes into focus. Issue one, being our introduction to the characters, is about life and death. (Since it is the intro, I expect the themes in issue one to be revisited in issue ten.) Issue two is all about faith. Issue three is about love. Each of these themes merge with Brás’ life by the end of each issue, punctuated with what other critics are calling the book’s “twist.” I think it’s a little unfair to put what Bá and Moon are doing here in the same category as your average M. Night Shyamalan movie, but I will admit that the quirky nature of the setup was the main thing that made me stop and wonder what they were up to with issue one. By issue two, however, the purpose starts to clear up; the narrative conceit feels less like a gimmick and more like the necessary punctuation to the moment where Brás touches the beating heart of the issue’s theme. His moment of absolute faith, his first awareness of true love– every time, the twist drives home the essential, shared humanity of Brás’s adventures.
I’m glad the series is as long as it is. I have seven more issues to enjoy more as my awareness of what they’re trying to do grows. Part of me hopes I’ve not got it all right, that I’ve missed something that will reveal another layer of the book’s magical realism, though either way I expect I’ll be surprised more than once as things progress. Fábio and Gabriel have really created something special here. Get in on the ground floor if you can.