Daytripper: How Moon & Ba Are Un-cheapening Death

Recently, aztek the lost commented to me on Freeman's review of issue #6 of Daytripper that he felt I might be spoiling a massive plot point about the Daytripper series.  I would say "if you don't want to know what that is, then don't look at the upcoming spoiler tag"...but I won't say that.  There will be no spoiler tag.  I don't feel what I'm about to say is at all a spoiler, but it is a necessity. 
 
The lead character of Daytripper, Bras de Oliva Domingo, dies at the end of every issue. 
 

Early in issue #1, this page surprised its readers with a big "WTF IS HAPPENING" moment... 
I know what you might be asking (for the few people who are actually reading this anyways...and even then, many will say tl;dr anyways).  "Josh, why the hell would you be posting that...and saying it's NOT a spoiler?"  
 
If anyone feels that it IS a spoiler, I'm more than happy to contain it in spoiler tags, but it's difficult to speak about the stories that these books are actually talking about without bringing up the fact that its lead character meets his very untimely demise by the last page of every single book you are buying. 
 
I haven't written my own user reviews for the first three books in the series, as I didn't really care to write reviews.  I did it for three years with video games, and it was a chore.  It also made me hate video games for a while, but luckily that has since changed.  However, once I read the fourth issue, I had to write a review.  It has since made me realize that reviewing books is something exciting for me, as it's a very different kind of reviewing. 
 
In my user review for #4, I point out that I cried at the end of the story.  This is literal, folks.  Balling like a sissy, grabbed a bottle of scotch and had a couple glasses, sat on my bed and thought about my life...CRYING.  It is VERY rare that something has that level of impact on me personally.  Combining issue #3 and #4, it made it even more resonant for me.  Here's why:
 
In issue #3, he's 28 and alone, and gotta say - I'm in the same boat.  The outlook for the future?  Not so great.  Mind you, it's different than Bras' situation, but I could completely understand his feelings of loneliness.  He ends up meeting a glimpse of a woman that feels comfortable, safe, and more than anything, feels like the potential of forever. 
 
Then he dies...and that hits really hard on a very emotional and personal level for me. 
 
 Moments like these hold such a different but still strong amount of weight if you KNOW the character is going to die.
Then you move into issue #4, where Bras is 41 and married to the girl he caught that glimpse of at the end of #3.  He's expecting his first child, and then finds out his father passed away when he gets to the hospital on this joyous occasion.  It takes a very somber tone after that.  Moreover, the fact that his father has died...and he's expecting a child...COUPLED with the knowledge that Bras dies at the end of every issue...   Man, that was a hard issue to swallow, as I've personally wanted kids for a long time, but the chances of that happening are also very slim.  The way he dies in that book...without ever seeing his child...  Words cannot even express...
 
The idea of Daytripper to me is that the death makes the moments of life more meaningful.  In my review for issue #5, I pointed out that I felt like Bras' death felt like it was becoming more of a gimmick because I didn't feel the emotional pull the same way I did in #3 and #4.  I've come to realize that I didn't NEED to feel the emotional pull of the death, as knowing that he was going to die...even at 11 years old...impacted the way I looked at these tiny moments in his life. 
 
The knowledge of death makes the artwork in those panels, every little detail of them, spring off the pages.  It's one of the few books where sitting for a few moments, staring at that panel, really taking it in...it makes a world of difference.
 
Hell, when I go back and look at Tony's review of the first issue, he refuses to spoil the ending to it because he didn't know where the series was going.  We didn't know this was going to become an ongoing thing in the books.  Now that we DO know it's an ongoing thing, I wish he WOULD'VE told us about it in that review.  I've gone back and read these books at least 10 times each now (well, except #6, still haven't gotten to pick it up yet).  Every single one of these issues has so much interlocking stuff, and the chronology that Fabio Moon has picked to tell this story in is just so godd*#n brilliant!  I don't think I would've cared so much about issue #4 without the events of issue #3. 
 
 Bras de Oliva Domingos, my new hero of comics.
We talk so much as comic fans about how a character's death has become something cheap, used as a device to reel us in with its setup of "oh hey, one of these major characters is going to die".  Despite the fact that we know they've got a 99% chance of being resurrected somehow.  Moon does the unimaginable:  he gives us a character where his death makes a stronger impact on the story being told every time.  It's such an odd thing to see unfold, but when you are aware that Bras is gonna bite it, you realize that you are attaching yourself stronger to the moments because you have to take them in.
 
Therefore, I don't think it's a spoiler at all saying "Bras, the lead character of Daytripper, dies at the end of every issue".  If anything, I think letting people know that information makes the books even stronger than if you try to hide that fact.  Daytripper is a peek into our own mortality, a way of reminding us "Death is coming for you, make the most of it while you can, and enjoy the little things".  Without Bras' death, what kind of book would we be left with?  Stories of life that simply hold less impact.
2 Comments
2 Comments
Posted by aztek_the_lost

Great blog, I guess you're right, it's not a spoiler, I'm still living in the past when #1 came out and it was intended to be a spoiler and I felt everyone should get a chance to experience that intended surprise with his first death. But it's been six months already, people have had time to pick it up, at this point, if you want to read about it, you should expect spoilers.

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Posted by jakob187
@aztek the lost: But see, even then...looking back at the first issue and knowing what we know now, should it have been held back that Bras dies at the end?  It's odd how Daytripper has defied this ever-existing law that we hold in the comic book community of "don't tell anyone about the death".  I can understand in cases like the recent Uncanny X-Men issue #524, as that's something that was a major character that people have taken years to get attached to.  However, the guys writing comics are rarely making a character death that worthwhile anymore.  They'll just end up resurrecting the characters or writing a mimic storyline to what the rival is doing (Marvel did Cap, DC does Bruce Wayne, etc). 
 
I thoroughly enjoy the way that Moon has delivered this book issue after issue, while at the same time making the fact that Bras will die poignant each time around.  At the same time, there are very few stories that I can think of where you have the knowledge of a character's death BEFORE you read the story.  It makes everything being told in that story much more impactful to me. 
 
Look at other deaths in the history of comic books.  Would Superman's year of stories before The Death of Superman felt different if we had known that he was going to die?  What about Jonathan Kent...or so many others?  It's raised my curiosity a bit, to say the least, about how comic book creators treat death in comics. 
 
With that said, I'm ready to grab issue #6 already and get my read on!