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The Death-Ray

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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—and reconfigures 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 darkness of the human psyche.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With great power comes great ambivalence—if you’re a going-nowhere teen in a dusty suburb with one friend, two dead parents, a girlfriend who is little more than an idealized pen pal and all the other trappings of a dismal life. That’s Andy, a schlubby 17-year-old who spends time with his best pal, Louie, hanging around the edges of their high school’s social set. When the day comes, as it must for all misfits, when Andy smokes a cigarette for the first time, in superhero fashion he learns his scientist father injected him with experimental hormones, giving him superpowers—and a death ray that makes people disappear forever without a trace. Andy understands that his powers give him some kind of moral imperative (“I feel I have to do my part, however small, to help out humanity, or at least the good, decent members of society”), but his heroic ideals don’t prove up to overcoming his smalltime jealousies. Andy doesn’t do terrible things with his powers, just sad, petty things—until one dark day. Clowes’s cartooning ability has never been better than in this story, originally published in 2004 and presented in a hardcover edition—crosscutting past and present, using monologues and fractured action to tell the ultimate unsuperhero story. (Oct.)
Aaron Leitko
Teenagers love superheroes, but they don't have much in common with them…But with The Death-Ray, graphic novelist Daniel Clowes finally gives blemish-battling everykids a man of mystery they can relate to…The Death-Ray is, in part, a post-9/11 parable in which a well-meaning but ultimately fallible hero fails to do justice appropriately. Even more, it's a clever tweak on a well-worn series of cliches. At a time when comic book heroes are regularly delivered to the big screen in three-hour epics, goosed up with psychodrama steroids, Andy's unwillingness to rise to remarkable heights of heroism or villainy is weirdly refreshing.
—The Washington Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781770460515
  • Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
  • Publication date: 10/11/2011
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 342,355
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

DANIEL CLOWES is the cartoonist of the iconic comic book series Eightball and of the graphic novels Wilson, Ghost World, David Boring, and Ice Haven; the screenwriter of Ghost World and Art School Confidential; and an illustrator for The New Yorker. He is married and lives in Oakland, California.

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