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-Rayutilizes 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.