#1 Dale Keown CoverWhat days are most important to human history?
The day Julius Caesar died? The day the Berlin Wall came down? Or September 11, 2001?
But what if there are days we don't know about? What if someone was able to manipulate human history and shape our destiny without our knowledge, able to erase days when his influence changed the course of history?
In Days Missing, the new comic from Archaia and Roddenberry Productions, the mysterious character known only as "The Steward" has that kind of power. The five-issue mini-series launches in August with Days Missing #1 by writer Phil Hester and artist Frazer Irving, but will involve a variety of creative teams who will explore the idea of the Steward's time-altering influence.
"There are momentous events in human history that have taken place without our knowledge – days missing from the record of human evolution," Hester told Newsarama, explaining the premise of the comic. "The Steward is a mysterious, immortal being dedicated to shepherding humanity to a higher plane of existence. When he perceives that a moment in history will prove disastrous for mankind he intervenes by 'resetting' the day, essentially resolving the crisis then folding time so that we have no memory of his interference and are free to continue or development. He's sort of a bad-ass Watcher that follows Star Trek's prime directive."
#1 Frazer Irving CoverHester will write the first and last issues in the series, while writer David Hine will come on board for the second issue, dropping The Steward in yet another point of time where he can influence the future of mankind. But the introduction to The Steward in Hester's first issue will place him in present-day Africa.
"A new, extra virulent form of Ebola has broken out in Swaziland, Africa. The Steward projects that this strain will sweep the globe, becoming a lethal pandemic," Hester said. "His powers are such that he doesn't solve problems directly, but rather inspires or motivates humanity to solve their own problems. In this issue he must work with doctors to find a cure while at the same time preventing the country's power-mad monarch from violating the international quarantine around his country and bringing a devastating military strike down on everyone's head."
While Days Missing will introduce readers to new characters and situations in each issue, the Steward himself is the only recurring character, which Hester points out is one of the draws for the writing teams.
"The Steward intervenes in really momentous situations, so we can drop him in literally any time and any place," he said. "He can intervene in an historic moment like the moon landing, or a moment that we never knew we dodged, like Y2K. My two issues tend to revolve around fringe science, so we see him dealing with a lot of doctors and scientists under duress."
Hester said he got involved with the comic because of his friendship with Rob Levin, who was brought in to round up a group of writers and artists who "could wrap their heads around the concept and cook up compelling stories. I hope I came through for him."
#1 Phil Hester CoverRoth, who created the project, worked with Hester on development of the story but Levin did most of the "heavy-lifting." While Hester said Roth was very hands on, "he respects the creative teams" and lets Levin do the coordinating between them.
While Hester called Irving a "treasure," he admitted that he gave him a tough job because Days Missing is a little heavy on the dialogue. "I'm an artist myself, so I know what a challenge these dialogue heavy books can be," he said. "Frazer turned around beautiful, compelling
pages no matter what I asked him to draw."
The writer said the opportunity to drop the character into any situation was part of the attraction, but he also loves writing "talky, existential horror and science fiction,
so Days Missing gave me a chance to really cut loose and probably go over the top with it."
Days Missing also puts a twist on time travel that doesn't make any of those nasty paradoxes so common in time-hopping stories. However, Hester said in many ways the idea behind Days Missing is more complicated.
"The Steward functionally erases days from our history, so we've got to set up a crisis, have The Steward solve it, then make the day go away without humanity's knowledge," Hester said. "Also, the way his powers work precludes him from, say, dropping in and killing Hitler. Instead, The Steward would drop in, encourage Adolph to work on his painting skills, maybe even give him a few pointers for twenty-four hours, then fold the day, leaving young Hitler with no memory of The Steward, but a deeper understanding of art and a strong desire to forget politics and go into painting. No quick, easy time travel stories here. It's pretty complex to be honest, but ultimately more rewarding."