REVIEW: The Underwater Welder

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Is the pressure getting to oil rig welder Jack Joseph’s head? He’s losing touch with the present as he dives into the mysteries of his past. Major Spoilers reviews the newest graphic novel by writer/artist Jeff Lemire.

THE UNDERWATER WELDER
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Jeff Lemire
Publisher: Top Shelf
Cover Price: $19.95 ($9.99 Digital)

LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON?

Jack’s father spent his life whole life searching for treasure on the ocean floor. His obsession cost him his family, his home and, in the end, his life. Losing his father at the age of ten hit Jack hard; what made it harder was never knowing if his father had ever really cared about him. This void drove Jack into the same lifestyle as his father and he seemed destined to repeat the same mistakes.

He spent weeks at a time away from his pregnant wife while working on the oil rig. When he wasn’t on the rig, he wanted to be away form his family and back to work. Nine months into his wife’s pregnancy he still hadn’t finished putting together the baby’s crib. He was getting a jumpstart on being an absentee father. Everything changes one day while diving in the water under the rig. Jack happens across an old pocket watch that he’d thrown in the sea as a boy. The mysterious watch sends him on a journey back to the night his father died…a night that has haunted him for twenty-three years.

The non-linear approach taken to this tale is well done. Jack’s adventures climax on Halloween Night 1990, the night his father disappeared while diving. Jack and his younger self search through town for his dad who had stood him up to go trick or treating. In the end it’s discovered that Jack’s father died trying to show his son he cared. He had been diving to retrieve the watch his son had thrown into the ocean earlier in the story.

A wordless underwater confrontation between father and son gives the pair an remarkably emotional final goodbye. Jack’s life is put back on track as he realizes that, yes, his father did love him.

JEFF LEMIRE AT HIS FINEST

This book would just be just as good without any words. Lemire’s illustration style may seem simple, but his ability to convey tone and emotion in just a few strokes is incomparable. The 244 pages of black and white masterpieces left me pleasantly satisfied.

Bonus: Look closely and you’ll spot a character from Lemire’s ongoing Vertigo title Sweet Tooth…

BOTTOM LINE: A MUST READ!

Lemire weaves a beautiful tale forcing our protagonist to confront his past and learn the truth about that night his father disappeared. Lemire’s story never loses composure and never lags as our character is swept through a non-linear tale of self-discovery. If you are a fan of the Twilight Zone or Lost there is no reason for you not to pick up this awesome book!

Rating: ★★★★★