The time-folding Steward is back, and for the first time, he's folding known history. Written by French author Matz ("The Killer"), Archaia Studios Press' "Days Missing" #4 deals directly with the historic events of Hernan Cortez and the Conquistadores of South America.
"Days Missing" #4 is the first script Matz wrote specifically for an English-speaking audience, and also marks the first time in the series that The Steward has had a direct impact on well-known, pre-existing historical events. Matz hopes to reveal a bit more about both The Steward and Cortez himself in the issue.
"I have always been very interested in the story of the Conquistadores and the Conquista of South America," he says. "It's a fascinating time, and I read pretty much everything I could get my hands on regarding that time - general history, as well as biographies of the men living at the time, either Spaniards or Indians. Cortez is a very interesting figure. It seems he really fell in love with the country we (rather stupidly) say he "discovered" (since men were already living there, right?). Anyhow, he turned out to be a very unique figure, but the first thing he did was to destroy the ships he came on so that there was no way to leave. (Actually it seems he had them sunk, not burnt, but isn't that just a detail?) That remains one of the boldest things I ever heard of. He really put everything he had, including his life, into this adventure. That's the kind of man he was - as well as an enthusiast, not necessarily a bully. He also turned out to be quite witty. That's why I thought about that particular event. Isn't there something fascinating about this man who reaches an unknown shore with a few hundred man, and decides that this is it, there is no way back, it's either die or win? It's that bigger than life feel that I tried to capture. So there was a funny thing in the idea that maybe he actually didn't do it, but then took credit for it. That's the starting point of the story. Also, I thought it was interesting to have a story in which The Steward is actually outplayed by a human. And if a human would ever outplay him, then Cortez would be the one."
Whether or not Cortez does outmaneuver The Steward remains to be seen, but Matz does mention that The Steward does fail in some capacity. "The biggest challenge was to have The Steward fail. I wasn't sure it would fly, and I thought it was a little bit of a stretch, but then I thought it would be quite unexpected - a surprise to the reader, especially if he's used to seeing him carry out his plans. I also feared people would say, 'Of course, a French writer is going to come up with a loser's story. What do you expect?' But then everything went fine."
While The Steward fails in some capacity in this installment of "Days Missing," we do get to see a side of him we haven't seen before - his ability to fight. "I think as the protagonist, it would be somewhat of a letdown if he didn't have a direct impact on the events at hand," says Matz. "This makes The Steward sabotage the fleet, but also afterwards fight for his life. I like a main character that is active, and I was told The Steward had some rather impressive moves...so, it felt natural to use that."
It all adds up to a brand new take on The Steward that Matz hopes will both get readers pumped and allow them to reflect upon events of the past. "I'd like readers to feel like they want to read something about Cortez and the conquest of Mexico, but also to think about these times when men would travel the world not knowing what they'd find, taking risks we can't even think about nowadays," he says. "I'd also like people to reflect on whether The Steward was right or wrong in what he first intended to do. I think he was right, but another interpretation is valid.
As for Matz, there are a few days in time that he wouldn't mind folding if he had the power of The Steward. "I suppose there are a bunch of them, in the world history, that I think would be interesting to fold," he says. "Even though you might wonder if folding a day every now and then would really be enough to change the course of history. I can also think of a few in my own life that I wouldn't mind folding. If I wanted to be selfish, I'd say the day when Nazi Germans killed my grandfather, who was with the Underground. I really would have liked to know the guy, you know. But if something could have been folded, I'd definitely look into that time period. Maybe the day Hitler was born? But then if he never was born, wouldn't there have been another one just like him?"