Aside from having a PhD in horribleness, Billy is an exceptionally average human being. His face is simply a face, he is tall but not towering, and he is thin but not weedy. Like many white American single males, he lives in an apartment building. This overpowering averageness makes it hard for some people to accept Billy as a villain, because everyone expects villains to be muscular and brash and cunning, or at least to have something like a jagged scar snaking across the face like the river Styx taking people to Hell.

Billy dislikes passivity, arrogance, and rats. He is fond of chocolate, chemistry, and red hair. Sometimes he also likes rain.

When Billy was nine years old, he decided that he was going to change the world. He didn't mean it the way most people do, when they say they want to go do missions in Africa or help disadvantaged children from neighborhoods where the only thing that grows is pollution. Billy wanted to change the world in a more drastic way. He needed it to be drastic because he was a runty kid and nobody listened to him, because adults don't take children seriously anyway, and because his father was very obviously disappointed that his son was never going to be a football or basketball star. Billy's mother thought that his interest in chemistry was charming, in the same way people think pandas are charming until someone gets too close and ends up getting attacked. Billy felt very misunderstood by his parents, so he resolved to fix the world so that the misunderstood people wouldn't be looked down on by the vast majority of people who all understood each other. Being a nine-year-old boy, Billy felt that this idea was perfectly achievable. He thought that fixing the world could be easily accomplished by taking signatures or holding peaceful demonstrations. Later in life, he discovered that guns worked just as well.

Although Billy is no longer nine, he is still convinced he can change the world. He plans to do this using his freeze ray gun, which is bulky and somewhat haphazard, and looks kind of like he glued a bunch of random metal parts together. This inability to create sleek, lethal-looking weapons is another reason no one takes Billy seriously; sometimes Billy wishes he took some sort of design class in college, so that he could make his weapons look classy. The other thing that Billy wishes is that the girl from the laundromat would dump her pompous boyfriend, Captain Hammer, who is Billy's rival and has beaten him up on many memorable occasions that Billy tries to forget. The girl, on the other hand, is the kindest person Billy has ever met. She has gentle eyes that are the color of stones on the bottom of a riverbed, and her hair is the brightest, most tomato-soup-red Billy has ever seen. He first saw her at the laundromat seven months ago, and he liked her immediately.

The girl has been dating Hammer for about two weeks when Billy snaps. Earlier that day, Hammer insinuated to Billy that he was dating the girl simply to make Billy jealous; that night, Billy forms a plan. He takes his freeze ray gun and removes some parts. When night peeks through his window he ignores it and keeps working. He makes new parts for the gun, and mixes chemicals into a beautiful soup that bubbles and boils gaily. Billy mutters to himself while he works; it's a habit that's been hanging around since high school, when he realized that talking to himself was soothing, in spite of the fact that it creeped his lab partner out and made her dislike him even more. Billy chatters and stirs and schemes, and by the next evening the death ray gun is ready. Before he leaves for the ceremony at which he plans to attack Hammer, he changes into his villain costume and cleans the gun so that it glistens dangerously.

It's time to change the world.