Clowes once again shows he is a master of current-day absurdity — with heart.USA Today, Best Graphic Novels of 2011
On Time, NPR, and USA Today's Best-of-2011 lists! Winner of the Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz Awards!
Teen outcast Andy is an orphaned nobody with only one friend, the obnoxious but loyal Louie. They roam school halls and city streets, invisible to everyone but bullies and tormentors, until the glorious day when Andy takes his first puff on a cigarette. That night he wakes, heart pounding, soaked in sweat, and finds himself suddenly overcome with the peculiar notion that he can do anything. Indeed, he can and as he learns the extent of his new powers, he discovers a terrible and seductive gadget — a hideous compliment to his seething rage — that forever changes everything.
The Death-Ray utilizes the classic staples of the superhero genre — origin, costume, ray-gun, sidekick, fight scene — reconfiguring them in a story that is anything but morally simplistic. With subtle comedy, deft mastery and an obvious affection for the bold Pop Art exuberance of comic book design, Daniel Clowes delivers a contemporary meditation on the the darkness of the human psyche.
Praise for The Death-Ray
It is like Holden Caulfield with his phaser set on kill. Phonies beware.Time Magazine
The Death-Ray reads as a cautionary parable and an acidic rumination on the travails of adolescence...Clowes demonstrates what the comic book can do and literary fiction can not.The Observer
The Death-Ray is a brilliant and fitting headstone for the [superhero] genre as a whole.The Globe and Mail
Clowes examines the combination of condescension, guilt, and self-righteousness common to both adolescence and superhero vigilantism, while also working in a bit of middle-aged disappointment via the present-day framing device. It’s a brief read given the price, but likely one you won’t soon forget.Paste
48 pages densely packed with art, dialogue and ideas, The Death-Ray [is] supersaturated, a story delivered directly into your imagination...NPR
The Death-Ray can be read as a critique of American foreign policy, or a kiss-off to superheroes, but it’s also another of Clowes’ keen dissections of teen ennui, with the details of a young man’s first cigarette and his first punk-rock album serving as more than just coming-of-age signifiers.AV Club