The Steward saves mankind from its worst days and then erases said days from history!
Published by Archaia
Written by Phil Hestor, David Hine, Iam Edington & Matz
Illustrated by Frazer Irving, Chris Bunham, Lee Moder, & Hugo Petrus
I read the first issue of Days Missing when it came out. I even gave it a favorable review . It seemed like a horror story with a very timely theme and for whatever reason, I didn’t read the rest of the series. I wish I had, I clearly missed out on something huge. Fortunately, in this day and age - the collection rules supreme and is a bigger segment of the market every day.
The first issue revels in the horror of the super virus, Irving doesn’t flinch from the grotesque, but thinking that it would be a horror book going forward was a mistake. Certainly, one of its themes is the horrors of the human condition. The Human Condition is more like what the book is all about once you cut through the sci fi jargon and monsters and time travel and all of that.
The Steward is fixing the worst days in history and erasing them (at first). As the story progresses he becomes more and more narcissistic about which events he takes on. It is obviously all related to the second story, when a scientist is threatening to reveal the truth of the soul and the Steward unknowingly inspires Frankenstein to be written. He is as concerned with not exposing himself as he is with saving humanity. Sure, later on in the Cortez story, he shows his compassion for our ideals, but it is at that point that he realizes he is fallible, he is not the god he has set himself up to be.
The juxtaposition through the epochs of time are used to create a bit of extended exposition through out the book. It’s obvious in the first story, as he uses Babylonian tales and his time with the Dinosaurs to establish his methodology and age while solving a very real world problem. However, little pieces of his motivations and overall character are dropped here and there until we see the fractured, lonely, and miserable being of the final chapter. He has been consumed by his task but still strives forward. Repetition becomes the name of the game and in true Twilight Zone fashion, a stunning revelation only becomes clear in the final pages.
What’s most remarkable about the book is the team. They are all accomplished and respected writers and artists, but for the story to be told so coherently with a different writer at the lead of each book is awe inspiring. There must have been some commitment to the idea for it to be pulled off so effortlessly. It would be remarkable for DC and Marvel to handle their long standing characters in a similar fashion. Consistent voicing is the key - each writer understands the Steward and as a result is able to go about their individual task of peeling back the layers he has used to disguise himself from not only the lower evolved beings he is protecting, but from himself.
The art is stunning across the board. Irving brings the creepy, Burnham effortlessly draws a period piece and a monster book, Petrus gives us a cinematic masterpiece and even Moder steps up the plate with solid characterization and storytelling. Moder may do the subtlest bits of art in the book. The clean computer lines of the machinery is in direct contrast to the less sexy human designs, making it obvious why the human factor is more important than the science.
Days Missing is a very ambitious book and it fairly well succeeds in pulling off an intimate character story in a huge sci fi time traveling epic. It is big ideas, not done flawlessly, but with conviction and as such it is exemplary of what is possible in the medium.