|And you know what…? I’m right here … we’re right here. But you’re too busy chasing a ghost to notice!|
The Underwater Welder is an original graphic novel from Top Shelf Productions by writer and artist Jeff Lemire. The only work of his that I have read before was The Nobody from Vertigo but he is one of DC/Vertigo’s hot talents having his own on-going series, Sweet Tooth, and writing several series in DC’s new 52 including Animal Man, Justice League Dark and Superboy.
The story in this book follows Jack Joseph, a 33 year old underwater welder at an off-shore oil rig in Nova Scotia. He and his wife are preparing for the imminent arrival of their first baby but Jack seems distracted and is more focused on work than preparations for the new arrival. It is also Halloween, the anniversary of the death of Jack’s father in mysterious circumstances. Jack’s memories of his father and the night he died start to take over his life as his own doubts about his fitness as a father begin to surface. While Jack loves his father he fears turning into man who broke up his family and ultimately wasted his life. But an incident at work is the trigger for a self-examination in which the buried truth is revealed and Jack must decide how he will live his life in the future.
Given the nature of the publisher, they also published his acclaimed Essex County collection, this is a return to Lemire’s indie roots and is a very different kind of book to his work on the new 52. This book is a kitchen sink drama with a bit of a supernatural/hallucinational interlude. The imagery of the book works well with the point of view changing seamlessly between the past and the present through Jack’s self-perceived transformation into his father. This is a chunky 220 page book that can easily be read and enjoyed in a single sitting but certainly worth spending more time with.