Days Missing: Kestus (Archaia, $24.95)

Phil Hester (w), David Marquez (a)

I had a lot of good things to say about the first Days Missing collection. Oddly, much of what I liked isn't present in the second collection, but I like it almost as much.

The first Days Missing miniseries gave us The Steward, a generic, Phantom Stranger-type character who could erase days that went badly and therefore change history to that which we know. The first miniseries gave different writer/artist teams shots at this concept, which was very entertaining. It gave us history, which I like to think about, and showed us alternate histories, which I also like to think about, within the context of a simple comic-book concept that never interfered with the main star: History.

But the second collection keeps the same creative team throughout, and moreover, focuses on The Steward -- making him not only a prime mover, but moving his life, personality and story to the front burner. That's kind of the opposite approach of the first miniseries, but I like it almost as much.

The way Hester approaches this is to suppose another immortal who lives outside history, like The Steward -- and a fetching female, at that. Her "powers" work a bit differently, and she and The Steward don't get along at first, but seriously, if you've been reading comics for any length of time, you know where this is going.

And sure enough, this other immortal -- the "Kestus" of the title -- brushes up against The Steward in a number of major historical events we're all pretty familiar with, sometimes on his side, sometimes on the other side, and sometimes ... well, it's hard to say. But you know these two are going to gravitate toward each other -- how could they not? -- and besides, her very presence upends The Steward's avowed purpose, which is to alleviate his own loneliness. Since he doesn't hook up with Kestus on the first "date" and disappear from history, obviously, he doesn't know himself as well as he thinks he does.

Or as written, since he didn't really have a personality to speak of. Honestly, this series could not have continued without Kestus, because at least she is recognizably human and that gives us something less blandly noble and vaguely ethereal than The Steward to hang onto. She doesn't exactly humanize The Steward very much, but it is entertaining in a "watch Spock get flustered" sort of way as she flirts with him, fights with him and otherwise challenges his stolid self-certainty. And it does give this series a reason to continue beyond its high-minded but self-limiting beginnings. Hester uses Kestus to set up a new status quo for The Steward that is a solid basis for a continuing series. And, in fact, Hester ends Kestus with a cliffhanger that guarantees a third miniseries, one that will -- following precedent -- be entirely different than the first two.

You know, if I think I had ever written a comics series, it would probably be something like Days Missing. So I might be prejudiced. But I do think it's interesting, and worth your money to take a look.

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