Daniel Clowes never ceases to amaze me with his graphic novels. He is brilliant and while I say that for most authors who I read, Mr. Clowes is truly the master of graphic storytelling. I remember reading, ‘Ghost Girl’ with such fascination when I first laid my hands on it and then I was marveled by, ‘Wilson’, only to be enthralled by his latest book, ‘The Death-Ray’.
‘The Death-Ray’ focuses on Andy, a lonely boy growing up in the 70s who has one friend and is being raised by his grandfather who is likely to develop Alzheimer’s. One day while smoking a cigarette by chance, Andy discovers that nicotine activates his super-powers where he gains super strength. Coupled with that is his father’s legacy – a handheld, “death ray” that can eliminate people. This turns Andy from being an awkward teen to having the power of life and death in his hand.
The book follows the story of Andy and his friend Louie as they try to find their place in the world. They go through their phases – of picking on bullies, on people who do wrong and people who according to them deserve the death-ray experience. The plot is simple, but things get complex and more difficult to understand when Andy grows up. There was a point in time when I felt bad for Andy and his way of life, however then I realized that some people are just made for this – to go through life, pass by and experience it.
There are no spoilers in the review as the book needs to be experienced by readers. The writing is strong and Daniel Clowes as always touches upon the themes of loneliness and angst in a surreal manner. The Death-Ray is one of the best Graphic novels I have read this year. Read it!