When I was given the assignment to review the hardcover collection of Roddenberry Presents: Days Missing, I thought that it was strange that I never heard of it. I assumed it was an old project of “The Great Bird” (Gene Roddenberry) that never became TV and instead turned into a comic. I was wrong. The “Roddenberry Presents” was just Roddenberry Production’s way of getting young gullible Star Trek nerds to pick up the product, nerds like myself. Not that I’m against using a more famous name to sell a product; I buy Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes instead of the Kroger brand because a pushy cartoon tiger tells me to.
The cover art is a very striking “Image Comics”-style digital painting of someone who looks like across between The Spirit and David Coverdale of Whitesnake.
The book production itself is incredibly well done. The pages are printed on nice glossy stock, there are extras in the back like a special edition DVD and even the dust jacket is printed on a stock that the pleasurable to the touch; sensual but not physically overpowering. If you are actually aware of this comic, then you should be happy with the presentation of the hardcover. If you are not aware of the comic and want to know what the hell it’s about, don’t worry, I was just about to (finally) get to that.
The Whitesnake guy on the cover is our hero known only as The Steward. Yes, he’s named the same thing you call a guy that brings you drinks and peanuts on a plane, but he’s no ordinary Steward, he’s the Steward of mankind (drinks for everybody!). The Steward is an immortal entity that lives outside of time in his own personal “Fortress of Solitude”. When humanity comes too close to winning the game of Russian roulette we’re constantly playing, The Steward steps in. He has the ability to fold time for one 24-hour period and change the course of history, butterflies be damned. He’s also a scientist, historian, and Kung Fu master. If he can’t solve the problem with his mind he solves it with is fist…and time travel.
The format of Days Missing is a little strange. It feels more like an anthology book in the vein of Heavy Metal (minus the gratuitous nudity and even more gratuitous sex) than an ongoing series. This could be because the creative team changes with every issue. They do some hard work to make the stories feel as if they were a part of a whole, but ultimately the jumping of art style and story tone makes it all feel more than a little disjointed. The writers also do a certain thing that I personally find irksome; they play fast and loose with history. I do not have a problem with alternate history fiction. I happen to enjoy Inglourious Bastards and think that steam punk looks pretty cool.
The problem with Days Missing is that it isn’t alternate history. It inserts its character, The Steward, into history and makes that character pivotal to a major historical incident, such as inspiring Mary Shelly to write Frankenstein or being the person that burned Hernán Cortés ships instead of Cortés himself. This takes away the truth of the moment with out supplying a different historical alternative which bother’s me. Another issue is that nothing about The Steward is explained. He lives in a gigantic library writing down his exploits on blank books, for who and for what purpose? It is never explained. He looks into a mirror that shows him major events of the world. Who is sending him these events? God? Magic? Fox News? This is also never explained. How does he fold time? Is he an alien? Is he a God? All of these, never explained.
Days Missing, for me any rate, falls under this strange middle ground. I don’t particularly like it but it also isn’t that bad. The ultimate failure of the book is that it didn’t make me feel anything at all. I suggest if you see it in your comic shop, thumb through it. Give it a chance if you like time travel stuff, but for me I’ll have to take a pass.