WRITER/ARTIST: Jeff Lemire
FORMAT: 6.88″ x 10.44″ graphic novel, black & white
PAGE COUNT: 224 pages
PUBLISHER: Top Shelf Productions

Wicked Comics are proud and lucky enough to be among the first reviewers of the graphic novel – The Underwater Welder, written and drawn by Jeff Lemire, to be launched this August. Special thanks go to Chris Staros from Top Shelf Productions for the advance copy.

Despite the fact that I’ve always heard great things about creator Jeff Lemire, prior to this, I never actually got around to read any of his previous books. So when this opportunity presented itself I grabbed it. How could I’ve been missing so much?

The simple but effective plot revolves around Jack Joseph, The Underwater Welder, on an oil rig off the coast of Nova Scotia. The amalgamation of his wife’s pregnancy, his soon to be fatherhood, and an old personal mystery about his father’s disappearance on Halloween, come clashing into consequences on what appears to be a supernatural event. At first he is hesitant, so he tries to escape from his responsibilities by immersing himself in his work. However, mysterious experiences impeded the continuation of his work. His soon to be fatherhood brings back unresolved issues related to his father which transports the reader from a series of present to past and back panels and pages. As Jack struggles with his troubles, questions about his relationship with his wife are also raised. Trapped in what seems a lonely town the story develops in a touching exploration on parents and parenthood. Jeff must have been inspired throughout his writing with doubts and anxiety which he was experiencing since he was going to become a father too.

In his introduction, Damon Lindelof states that this is: “The most spectacular episode of The Twilight Zone that was never produced. I really, really care about the people in this story… And I can pretty much guarantee you will too.” I could also add that it is much better presented here as a graphic novel than it would have ever been if it was filmed.

THE GOOD

I generally find small squared panels with dialogue quite boring but to my amazement I really liked this style in The Underwater Welder. Everything is presented with pin point precision including the amazingly detailed Splash pages and the Panel Grid pages. His artwork is sketchy and minimalistic and although it is colourless, this fits the landscape. There is no wasted line in the art, giving it depth and his water coloured shading gives it life.

Lemire’s writing is simple but engaging, his characters are real, full of emotions and human. One needs to experience it! This book is simply a testament of Lemire’s talent as a writer and an artist.

THE NOT SO GOOD

I’m not an easy man to please but I honestly can’t find a proper fault in this. So the only thing I can say here is that I would love to read a sequel. Yes I would like to see how the story evolves now that Jack Joseph has become a father. Is there any petition where I could sign up to present this to Jeff Lemire?

THE VERDICT

This is a creator who has impressed me mainly through the way he manages to make these fictional individuals so alive and realistic, ones the reader can easily identify with.

This is an excellent graphic novel and if Jeff’s previous work is similar to this then I am the latest addition to his fan club. I could go on telling you how good the story is and give you more details about the plot but this will not do it justice. This is a must read for any comic reader and a pleasure and inspiring piece of literature/art for any one else.

Seeing how captivating Lemire’s real life characters can be, I can’t help but feel curious as to see how he portrays super powered ones. Since I haven’t yet read any of his previous work, I can’t compare this, but what I know for sure is that I’ll be finding out soon. My ‘Comics to Buy’ list has just increased. The only question is what’s next: Essex County, Sweet Tooth, The Nobody or Animal Man?

Website: http://www.topshelfcomix.com/catalog/the-underwater-welder/731

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