The Underwater WelderBook |
Fatherhood brings its share of torments.
The main protagonist of The Underwater Welder, Jack Joseph, is expecting his first child soon, but rather than look forward to the birth he remains obsessed with the past; specifically, his hapless drunk of a father who vanished years ago. During what should be a routine diving job off Nova Scotia, Jack spots an old pocket watch that brings back memories of when he and his father last saw each other. Despite the protestations of his distressed wife, he is resolved to go back and find the watch, which leads to a supernatural event that may prove his salvation -- or his undoing. Author Jeff Lemire has made a name for himself with comics that combine sci-fi and horror elements with recognizably human characters, and his latest continues that trend. Looking past the moody atmosphere and reality-warping plot twist, The Underwater Welder is ultimately the story of an ordinary man desperate for emotional closure, no matter the considerable consequences. Lemire's artwork has a raw, scratchy quality that befits a narrative in which angst lies not far beneath the surface. But it's also highly cinematic in ways that take readers inside Jack's obsessed mind: For example, early on there is a sequence of panels that simulates a "zooming in" shot of his face as he sits in a bath. The next few panels zoom back out, at which point he is literally swimming around in his own memories. While the premise of The Underwater Welder is the stuff of pulp sci-fi, Lemire's powerful presentation and emphasis on human emotions make it a unique and rewarding experience for those willing to plumb its depths.