With Mr. Wonderful: A Love Story, Daniel Clowes covers much of the same dour territory as his books Ice Haven, Wilson and The Death Ray, with one notable exception: a happy ending. Well, let's say it's as close to a happy ending as Clowes ever ventures.
Marshall and Natalie, a couple approaching middle age, meet on a blind date and stumble through an awkward, embarrassing, stressful evening together. Secrets are revealed, past relationships snap at their heels, strained affections are formed, and despite the shrapnel of forced companionship flying through the story, the couple manages to find common ground, and--dare I say it?--a chance at love.
Clowes' typically exquisite art and book production, his unique sensibility and approach to story are as strong as ever. He has an uncanny, expert use of the comic medium as a vehicle for disarming personal stories. His characters are still self-centered as always. Marshall's internal monologue word balloons often overlay and hide Natalie's words like discount stickers in a clearance sale, cleverly illustrating how Marshall seldom pays full attention to what his date--or anyone else--is saying. The effect reveals his desperation and self-doubt, unlike previous Clowes "heroes" who seem oblivious to their sins.
I came away from Mr. Wonderfull feeling positive and sympathetic, unlike Clowes' last novella, Wilson, which left a scummy ring around the tub. Even if I'm fooling myself, I'm sticking to it.