COMIC REVIEW: The Underwater Welder

I was able to get my hands on an advance copy of The Underwater Welder, and it definitely impressed. The Underwater Welder follows Jack Joseph, an underwater welder living in Nova Scotia. Jack works on an oil rig off the coast to provide for his wife and child on the way. One day while underwater, he experiences something that defies explanation, and changes his life forever.

I could attempt to summarize the plot, but it really wouldn’t do it justice. Just know that it’s a story about a soon-to-be father, his wife, and their unborn child. It’s explores the relationships between fathers and sons, the relationship between life and death, and the mind of a man. We follow his journey from hesitant father and something of a troubled man to him eventually embracing both his future and his past.

I won’t lie. At first, I was a little underwhelmed by the graphic novel. Sure, it has a great story and great characters, but that’s something that’s already expected from Jeff Lemire. But, the more I thought about it and the more I re-read it, the more I feel in love with it and was impressed by it. The way everything is brought full-circle and all connects is absolutely fantastic. It’s a wonderful, magical book. When it hits you, it hits you, and you realize just how great what you just read really is.

As usual, Jeff Lemire pulls both art and writing duties. His trademark style fits this story so well. The messy, but clean at the same time style that Lemire has fits this story perfectly. The art conveys the characters and their actions quite clearly, and it even adds a little something extra to the more “supernatural” scenes in the graphic novel as well. I’ve always thought his characters’ eyes were a little far apart, but that doesn’t subtract from the overall impact from the art in any way.

His characters are written so well. Like Damon Lindelof says in the introduction, you will care about these characters. They become people that you genuinely have feelings for. You become engrossed in their lives and struggles. Written at a time where Lemire himself was soon going to be a father, you can see some of his own struggles written into the character of Jack. Jack and his wife aren’t just characters in a comic; they become more like the couple that lives down the street that you see at the grocery store every week. The come out of the page and take a life of their own.

The magic that Lemire worked with the story is astounding. The tightness of the plotting, the scripting, the pacing, the sheer impact of it all; everything is right. The story is written so well, that you read and read and become disappointed when it’s all over because you want to stay in his world just a bit longer. Lemire just pulls you into his story so completely.

Overall, even though the full effect of the graphic novel didn’t hit me at first, I still enjoyed it. Once it all hit me, I enjoyed it much, much more. Either way, Lemire has crafted a new classic; something that rightfully takes its place alongside Sweet Tooth, Essex County, and his other works. When it comes out in August, definitely pick it up, people. You will not regret it.

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Leo Johnson

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