What if you had the power to strike from the record a single day of human history? Would you erase a possible genocide, or prevent a dictator from being born?
In Archaia's "Days Missing," the Steward deals with this constant dilemma for every day of human existence.With his finger constantly on the undo button, The Steward exists to protect mankind from incredibly traumatic experiences and the possibilities of Armageddon.
To further get inside The Steward's head, CBR News spoke with "Days Missing" #2 writer David Hine ("Civil War: X-Men") and "Days Missing" #3 writer Ian Edginton ("Blade: The Vampire Hunter") about the Steward and their personal takes on the folding of days.
In Hine's installment of "Days Missing," available September 30 from Archaia, he tells the tale of Frankenstein from the point of view of Mary Shelley to frightening and insightful effect. "I pitched three ideas," Hine told CBR. "Two of them were long, involved story outlines. The one for Joan of Arc was heavily researched and ran to a couple of pages. I think my pitch for Frankenstein was one word: 'Frankenstein.' They went for Frankenstein. There's a lesson to be learned there somewhere."
Although Hine's pitch only began with one word, the writer realized there was much more to the story than simply the Frankenstein monster. "The more research I did on Mary Shelley and the origins of the story, the more fascinating it became," Hine explained. "I knew about the meeting at the Villa Diodati where Mary and Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and John Polidori all agreed to write a ghost story. I knew that Polidori eventually came up with a turgid but highly influential story called 'The Vampyre' and Mary came up with 'Frankenstein: A Modern Prometheus,' while Byron decided prose writing was boring and wrote a poem about the weather instead. But I hadn't been aware of 'The Year With No Summer' - the worst weather in living memory that had forced them to stay indoors while thunderstorms raged. I also read up on the tragic life of Mary and how she had lost a child a few days after it was born, a tragedy that was to encourage her to take an interest in resurrecting the dead and creating new life.
"There were so many influences that came to play and when I discovered there was a 'lost' period in her life when she was living near to a scientist who was attempting to capture the electrical power of the thunderstorm, the story began to come together. I tried to make the story as authentic as possible and everything you read in the story fits with what we know about the characters involved."
Much like Hine, Ian Edginton also had many ideas for his upcoming issue of "Days Missing," but after reading Hine's Frankenstein installment, decided to take it in a bit of a different direction. "I had several ideas for stories all based around the Stewards ability to edit time but when I read David Hine's Frankenstein story, I junked them," Edginton told CBR. "David's script was superb and I knew it was going to be a hard act to follow. I decided that instead of having another story of the Steward altering events for the sake of humanity, he's having to do so to prevent himself and his actions being discovered. He's the focus this time. He's been around for countless millennia but now technology and human ingenuity is starting to catch up with him and even threaten to trip him up. So, what's he going to do about it?"
Focusing on the Steward himself, Edginton's biggest challenge was nailing down the abstract aspects of character's amazing powers. "I had to work out when he removes a day from time, how exactly do we define a day? Especially depending on what part of the world he's in with time zones and so on," Edington explained. "Then there was the simple matter of working out how far that extended, what it just on Earth? Our solar system? Throughout the universe? It got complicated I can tell you but with [editor] Rob [Levin's] help, it all got resolved in the end. For a while, though, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth here in the UK!"
"He has this incredible power and yet he is compelled by his own set of beliefs to leave the human race to make its own decisions," Hine said of what makes the Stewart a compelling character. "He intervenes when he can to undo some of the more catastrophic events but he never takes control. He could be a despotic, almost godlike figure but he refuses to take on that role. Humanity is like this immature child that has to make mistakes, fall down occasionally and get hurt. It's a burden to The Steward to have to watch us go through all the pain but he knows it's the only way for us to learn."
"I like the simple fact that for all the power at his disposal, once he's edited a day out of time, even he doesn't know how things are exactly going to turn out," added Edginton. "There's a lot of Chaos Theory to the Steward, a lot of uncertainty. Altering even the smallest of events could have world changing repercussions that he couldn't have predicted."
But for these two custodians of the Steward, is there any day that they would choose to fold? "Quite a few actually," said Hine. "Most of them involving copious amounts of alcohol. I've more or less wiped them from my memory already but it would be gratifying if everyone else forgot them too. As for historical days, I'm part of a generation that had a collective wish to visit the Thatcher household about nine months before Margaret Thatcher's birth and make sure that this time the condom didn't leak."
"That's a tricky one," said Edginton. "I think I'm going to go with, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.' You could just make things worse. Actually, no. Scratch that. Simple choice. September 11, 2001. There would be a lot more people alive in the world if that day (and its repercussions) hadn't happened."
Although we can't actually fold time to get to Edginton's newest issue faster, you can check out David Hine's Frankenstein story in "Days Missing" #2, on sale September 30, and Edginton's foray into folding time can be read this October in "Days Missing" #3.