Daybreak pays homage to the extensive comic book history that came before it

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By Caitlin Price, Chief Proofreader

Daybreak (2019) is definitely a lot like many things you have seen before. This does not, however, detract from the show; it is actually a large part of its charm.

With parent films such as Mad Max (1970), Kick-Ass (2010) and Zombieland (2009), Daybreak was always going to be a strange progeny. It crashes onto the screen hyper-aware of its own indebtedness to the world of comic books and action flicks and uses this knowledge to its advantage, referencing pop culture left, right and centre.

The post-apocalyptic LA's factions are fully formed and visually stimulating | IMDb / Ursula Coyote

Welcome to post-apocalyptic LA where the animals are mutants, the adults are ‘Ghoulies’ - zombie-like, but not infectious, and the surviving children and teenagers have formed factions as clear cut as those in Mean Girls (2004). There are the Jocks, the nerds, the cheerleaders – and there is Josh Wheeler (Colin Ford).

Daybreak crashes onto the screen hyper-aware of its own indebtedness to the world of comic books and action flicks

Josh is a pre-apocalyptic C-student, but – by his own admission – he is a post-apocalyptic A - ‘for awesome’. When we meet him, he is a likable, skateboarding outsider riding through the apocalypse with ease, set on remaining factionless and finding his girlfriend Samira Dean. He definitely fails at remaining factionless.

He quickly amasses a quirky core fellowship comprising a pacifist Samurai, Wesley Fists (Austin Crute), a ten-year-old ‘Mensa level genius with flexible morality’, named Angelica (Alyvia Lind), and his ex-Biology teacher, Miss Crumble (Krysta Rodriguez), a half-Ghoulie ‘witch’. With the liberation of a factory full of children from the arch-villain of the piece, ‘Baron Triumph’ (Matthew Broderick), Josh becomes the head of his own faction of misfits: the Daybreakers.

Josh’s Arthurian quest for Sam spans the majority of the series. We are introduced to her through Sam’s flashbacks and she seems a little hard to pin down, which, in all fairness, is probably the point. She is struggling to define herself and can only tell Josh what she is not - which is his exclusive property. By the end of the last episode she knows what she is and what she wants to be. The jump between the Sam of the first episode and the Sam of the last episode seemed a little far-fetched.

Daybreak stays true to its comic-book origins through never missing an opportunity to flout the usual rules of the screen. Annotations are scrawled across scenes; characters are present within their own flashbacks and, in one particularly entertaining scene, the comic character Eli Cardashyan (Gregory Kasyan) hijack’s Josh’s flashback-montage giving it his own spin.

Teenage high jinks run into overdrive in the world of Daybreak | IMDb / Ursula Coyote 

It is undoubtedly gory, but it also differs from many violent films and television series through depicting the early violent encounters as being almost endearingly amateurish. The characters are, after all, children, not paid assassins.

Daybreak stays true to its comic-book origins through never missing an opportunity to flout the usual rules of the screen

Josh may be the main character, but Angelica, Wesley and Miss Crumble all get episodes largely to themselves and the episode styles vary wildly but not incoherently. The creators Brad Peyton and Aron Eli Coleite somehow manage to make a sit-com style episode, a martial arts film inspired episode narrated by RZA and a slow burning episode set entirely in one room gel into a coherent, well-paced whole. The varied episodes are accompanied by a varied score which often jumps between genres. Daybreak is dynamic to the point of being hyperactive, but it’s never anything less than entertaining.

Featured: IMDb / Ursula Coyote


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