Last year, Archaia Entertainment put out a mini-series called Days Missing, which turned out to be one of my favourite series of 2009. Now, Days Missing returns with a sequel. Does it hold up? Find out after the jump!

Days Missing: Kestus #1
Writer: Phil Hester
Art: David Marquez
Colours: Digikore
Letters: Troy Peteri
Editor: Paul Morrissey
Cover: Alex Ross
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment

A bit of background: Days Missing focuses on the character of the Steward – a being of unknown origin who has an interest in humanity. From his otherworldly observatory, he watches throughout time and – when events happen that, perhaps, shouldn’t – he steps in, altering events and changing minds. When he is done, he ‘folds’ the day – no man will remember what has happened, but the Steward’s words and actions still have a lingering effect. The previously series ended on a cliffhanger – the Steward discovered that an unknown force has been unfolding days.

New Enemies, Same Problems

We begin as the Steward comes up with a suspect for the unfoldings: a person called Kestus. Cut to 531 BC in Shandong Province, China, where this Kestus is being worshipped by a tribe of barbarians. It is exposited that the people of Lu lie in the barbarians path, and the Steward has come to avert their destruction. He escapes Kestus and pays a visit to Kong Qiu (better known as Confucius) in the village of Lu. The Steward teaches him the finer points of blacksmithery, and convinces him to unite the people of the village to fight the barbarians. The Steward returns to Kestus, tricking her into wearing a barbed ring, which makes her bleed – demonstrating to her followers that she is not a god. The day is folded but the actions linger on, the barbarians – full of doubt – are defeated by the now-organised and well-armed villagers, and humanity put back on the correct track.

After spending the first mini-series establishing a formula – the Steward travels throughout human history, fixing things – the introduction of an interfering element on the Steward’s own level is very much an obvious and natural progression of the story, and this issue manages to pull it off fairly well. Kestus’ motivations are unclear at this point – as one would imagine they would be at the outset of the plot – but her desires are very clear from her actions: she wishes to use humanity, whereas the Steward wishes to preserve and protect it. This issue manages to convey this idea without the need for masses of textual exposition, and this is probably the strongest part of the writing.

The weakest point, on the other hand, is the lack of explanation of the relationship between the Steward and Kestus. The Steward seems to know her – or at least know of her – but from what I can gather Kestus has never been aware of him until this point. As such, it is never clear if these characters know one another or not, and this only resulted in my confusion.

The main story of the issue – the Steward in China – is well-written though and instantly attains the style and quality of the original mini-series. All the dialogue feels natural, the character of the Steward is as engaging as ever, and this issue very much succeeds in setting up some mysteries I want to see the answers to. My only complaint about the technicalities of the writing is that the Steward/Confucius sequence perhaps dragged a bit, it could have done with being a page shorter. Despite this, and the confusing as to the Steward/Kestus relationship, this issue contained a lot of high-quality writing, and the story arc it’s beginning looks to be very interesting indeed.

A Little Action Goes a Long Way

The art for this book is also very impressive, with Marquez delivering some great visuals throughout. The action, when it happens, is fluid and works well sequentially, which is very important when the one action sequence – although short – is important in establishing the Steward as being an able fighter. The facial expressions are also notable for their quality, and it’s nice to see characters with a range of emotions. I also enjoyed the colouring – whilst I wouldn’t call it brilliant work, I did notice and approve of it, and there is some nice use of light and dark in the Steward/Confucius scene, which helps to liven up an otherwise text-heavy sequence.

The cover is by Alex Ross and, thus, is very much looks like it was done by Alex Ross. I, for one, enjoy Ross’ work, and this cover certainly is well-drawn, with the Steward and Kestus looking down at the reader, as if looking into some sort of mystical viewing device. It certainly is eye-catching, as the Days Missing covers often are, and is tangentially related to the plot – featuring, as it does, both the Steward and Kestus. I’d say it’s a decent, but not great, cover.

We also get a two-page back-up story in this issue, written by series-creator Trevor Roth (with the rest of the credits as per the main feature). It is entitled ‘The First Fold’ and looks at the Steward’s origins, and this issue’s segment sees him awake for the first time in his empty observatory. Not much goes on here, but it is an interesting idea and hopefully the story as a whole should yield good things.

Not a Series You Should be Missing

This issue instantly drew me back into the world of Days Missing, and I don’t want to leave. The plot points set up in this first issue promise to yield exciting things, and the issue itself is well-written and well-drawn. If you missed out the first time, then give this series a look – you may well find an unexpected treat. This issue did not disappoint, and it earns four and a half stars out of five.

Rating: ★★★★½

The Author

Scott Hunter

Scott Hunter

He spells 'colour' with a 'u' and has the Queen on his money, but Scott Hunter loves pop culture all the same. His first memories of comics are of going down to the local corner shop to buy issues of The Beano and watching the 90s X-Men and Spider-man cartoons. He only recently started reading and collecting comics regularly, but has plunged himself heart and soul into the hobby, bagging and boarding with the best of them. Outside of comics, he enjoys sci-fi (reading, writing and watching), good-bad horror films playing with a brass band. Favourite writers include John Wagner, Alan Moore, Mark Waid, Alan Grant and (in non-comics literature) Philip K. Dick and H.P. Lovecraft. Colin MacNeil, Carlos Ezquerra, Brian Bolland and Alex Ross rank among his favourite artists.

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