What Valiant’s done with this book is truly amazing. Don’t get me wrong, Valiant puts their stamp on each trade paperback I’ve gotten my hands on. Each has felt very unique. But with Perfect Day, I think I’ve just read one of the best mini-arcs in a long while. Because not only did it serve to mark a unique chapter in the lives of these 5 Renegade heroes, it was a story that could only happen to them. It misled me to the wrong conclusions at first, but that’s just it – the characters were also misled, and so never once was I ahead of the story’s plot. I truly didn’t know what to expect with the turning of each page. And that’s only touching the surface of why Perfect Day is so great. This is a good jumping on point, as it’s something of a new start for the Renegades, but I’d recommend starting from the beginning. Some spoilers included.
‘Perfect Day’ also happens to be the perfect name for the arc. It plays off the fact that there’s a popular song by Lou Reed that goes by the same name, and that song is quoted at least once in the trade. The Renegades head to Los Angeles, a must-needed vacation after the events in Las Vegas. They spend some time at the beach, they crash a body-building competition, go to a concert in the desert, Torque goes to a metal concert, and some of them just fly around a bit. Kris is acting super strange though, as she keeps having strange visions and seeing multiples of herself. Other than that though, it’s the perfect day. I actually had that song on loop in the back of my head as I read most of the trade.
One of John Torkelson’s (A.K.A. Torque’s) definining moments as a character, at least to me, is when he sets off to find a metal concert. His character is one I’ve been struggling to grasp for a while, and this helped me immensely. Before Peter Stanchek came and unlocked his mind he would just lay in bed all day daydreaming of who he wishes he could be – the ultimate male in a fantastical heavy metal world. As a crippled kid living in the middle of nowhere, with abusive and/or absent parents, he would be particularly sheltered. The fact that the outward manifestation of his mind allows him to project the man of his dreams unto himself as a hard-shell light projection gives him the opportunity to do things he’s only ever dreamed about. So when he finally finds a metal concert, after being this macho ignorant douchebag all day everyday, we finally get a moment of true weakness out of him. He says “I never seen live music before,” under his breath. And such a simple line of dialogue, accompanied by the excellent art of Barry Kitson, made this character come to life for me. The poor kid has literally never seen live music before. The naivety of the line, behind this behemoth of a character… it got me good.
The rest of the Renegades have similar moments, but none as touching perhaps as Torque’s. Faith and Peter fly off, spend some time together. Peter acts a little weird, but Faith seems to roll with it. We later find that she’s been suspicious of this whole perfect day for a while. By the end of issue one, Kris does something truly shocking. The most incredible cliffhanger of the series yet. And then all of a sudden everyone ends up spending a day in Torquehalla, the invented heavy metal world where Torque can play out his greatest heroic fantasies. Just to see the looks on all the Renegades faces as they are forced to live in this misogynistic and cartoonishly dangerous world, was priceless. Spoilers galore from here on out.
We find out soon thereafter that this is all happening in a perfect day simulation, as the team is placed into a hibernative state after becoming prisoners of Toyo Harada following the events of Harbinger Wars. Peter is actually given his own room and simulation seperate from the rest of his team’s, because his mind is too dangerous to coexist with the others in the simulation. Harada himself siphons off a percentage of his mind to deal with Stanchek.
We also get to see more of the Project Rising Spirit abductee psiot known as Animalia, who’s able to create hard light projections of any animal. It’s just a shame that the only animals she’s ever been exposed to were cartoons, so her abilities are recklessly hilarious. Though still a child, we see amazing potential in her character as some of her creations manifest themselves in reality as she dreams in her personal dreamlike simulation. A very cool feature.
But the perfect day does come to an end. Each character in his or her own way realizes that this simply isn’t reality, and they fight the boundaries of the simulations to find the truth. Kris was the first to realize this, respectively, but that really doesn’t excuse her behavior one bit. They actually never explained what was going wrong with her, which was hugely frustrating in the confines of this arc, because I just couldn’t trust her character. An excellent feauture in worldbuilding shows that Toyo Harada only actually needs to sleep for 24 hours each month. In that time he needs unique isolation as he undergoes a dangerous mental battle known as a mind squall, that if left unattended, or if not dealt with properly, could lead to the death of anyone in the vicinity of several miles – similar to a nuclear explosion, but of the mind. Well… that actually happens. And there’s a ton of consequence. But it appears to be sustained by the end of the trade, thankfully.
All in all, we get insight into many of the characters most primal and realistic desires of the heart. We also learn why these desires just aren’t ever going to happen for these Renegades on the run. All the while, ‘Perfect Day’ was stuck in my head. And I loved it. No resolution to Kris’ strange behavior, and Peter’s simulation was rather weak in comparison to the rest, but the arc was overall awesome.
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