Book Review: The Underwater Welder

CoverThe Underwater Welder
by Jeff Lemire

One year ago the name Jeff Lemire wasn’t one that was on my radar.  I had heard good buzz about his book Sweet Tooth, but it wasn’t something that really grabbed me.  All that changed with the coming of DC’s New 52 and his work writing Animal Man and Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.  I particularly enjoyed Animal Man, and it quickly became one of my most anticipated books every month.  When I found out about The Underwater Welder, I decided that I would give it a try, and I’m glad I did.

The cover of the book really grabbed me.  Jeff Lemire’s artwork throughout the book is great, he does a wonderful job of instilling the characters with emotion.  But as I said, it was the cover, and just as much the title that drew me in.  It seemed like such an odd concept for a book that I just had to check it out.

The Underwater Welder tells the story of Jack Joseph, who works on an oil rig off the coast of Nova Scotia.  Jack is on the verge of becoming a father, and is struggling to deal with that and all it entails.  Jack really begins looking back on the relationship he had with his father, who was a diver as well.  As Jack continues to dive and deal with all these mounting pressures, some very odd things begin to happen underneath the surface of the water.

In his introduction, Damon Lindelof (co-creater and executive producer of LOST), calls The Underwater Welder the “most spectacular episode of The Twilight Zone that was never produced.”  I have trouble coming up with a more apt description.  At its core, it’s a story of a man clinging so hard to his past that he is unable to face his future, to the detriment of his life and his relationships.  It is a story filled with great characters and great emotion.  It is a story worth reading.

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4 comments on “Book Review: The Underwater Welder

  1. Animal Man is the best New 52 series (along with Team 7).
    What makes Animal Man so special is the way Lemire deconstructs the superhero mythology. For example:
    1) Superheroes tend to monopolize the attention of the reader, while Animal Man is constantly upstaged by the supporting characters of the series.
    2) Superhero comics usually don’t give much importance to the private life of their main character (they tend to focus only on the “costume on” part); in Animal Man, on the contrary, the private life of Buddy is the main theme of the series. In fact, it is rather infrequent to see Buddy with his costume on.
    3) Buddy is not perfect, and is not perceived as perfect by other people: in fact, in the 11th issue, when he tells his wife “It’s going to be okay”, she replies “Don’t give me anything of that superhero crap, Buddy.” That cut and thrust perfectly enlightens the philosophy of the series.

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  2. I haven’t read Team 7 yet, I picked it up, but haven’t gotten to it. I totally agree with on all your points. I love how Buddy interacts with his family. My favorite scene is with his son in town. When the son is trying to convince the two girls that Animal Man is his dad, but they don’t believe him. Buddy just swoops in, grabs him, says something to the effect of “Let’s go son, the Justice League needs us!”, and they fly away. I also really like the disapproving mother-in-law as a character. It makes perfect sense, who would want their child to marry a superhero and invite all that danger into their lives?
    Also, there’s a talking cat, so thumbs up for that.

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