Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2011: Born out of a series that ran in the New York Times Magazine in 2008, Daniel Clowes’s graphic novel Mister Wonderful details one night in the life and in the mind of Marshall, a cynical 40-something divorced shlub presumed familiar to fans of Clowes’s work. Marshall’s pessimism is in direct conflict with the situation in which we first meet our man: sitting in a coffee shop waiting on a blind date. With the mystery woman nearly 30 minutes late, Marshall’s mind runs rampant wondering how he ended up middle-aged and alone, willing to meet a perfect stranger who may not fit the fantasy role he’s imagined for his next partner (someone to eat bagels with on a Sunday morning, eager to read the sections of the paper he doesn’t). Although the downtrodden Marshall may be recognizable to fans of Clowes’s previous forays into contemptuous male reflections, it is also arguably his most sanguine effort yet. Marshall’s date, Natalie, eventually does show, and the events of their evening would test even the strongest of couples. Clowes often shifts to more elementary styling when we get inside Marshall’s head, and when a panel shows an imagined Marshall handing Natalie a "35,000-word treatise on how you’re the greatest human being who ever existed," we know Marshall’s heart has made the leap from snark to saccharine, and that may have been all he needed from this date, anyway. --Alexandra Foster
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Schlubby, broke, lonely divorcé Marshall only wants a partner, "someone to read the parts of the paper I throw away (travel, garden)." He's been set up on a date with Natalie, who's more or less perfect for him—operative phrase "more or less." She's got some damage of her own, but they do seem to have at least a touch of chemistry. Over the course of the evening, nearly everything that could go wrong with a tentative flirtation does, including a mugging and a really bad party. Expanded from a serial that ran in the New York Times Magazine, this is a gorgeously staged graphic novella consistently playful and funny on a formal level—there's a running joke involving Marshall's interior monologue covering up images or dialogue, and constant fantasy sequences signaled by drawing-style shifts. It's also the most tightly focused and sweet-tempered of Clowes's books so far, the closest thing he's done to a Woody Allen movie. Still, it wouldn't be Clowes if he didn't show at least a touch of contempt for all of his characters amid the tenderness; the story is a romantic comedy with almost—but not quite—enough caveats to sink any sense of hope. (Apr.)
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