The Underwater Welder
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art and Colours by Jeff Lemire
Publisher: Top Shelf
This comic is being marketed as “an un-aired episode of the Twilight Zone”, yet I am not sure this is the perfect description. It is mostly a story of memories, and letting go, with very little of the surreal actually being an important part of the tale. The best word to describe it would be “Lemire-esque”. It takes on his ephemeral stories with the mundane and un-normalcy of his art, making it just a bit magical but mostly centered on reality.
In here we follow Jack Joseph, an underwater welder, who has returned to his hometown to work and wait for his wife to give birth. However, he seemed to have finally lost his marbles, as he stars hallucinating after being underwater and seeing an old watch. Soon we are driven by images of the past and present as they mix together. And it is all down to whether or not the past will repeat itself.
The main theme in the story comes from the main character’s insecurities of becoming a father, as he suffers from some repressed feelings of abandonment from his own one. He is often presented as a person who loves his wife, however, there are times in which he resembles his father, and they are usually noticed by those close around him. We don’t discover exactly what is the issue between the mother and father until a bit into the story, and the reason for his disappearance is not given until near end, making the entire story a big setup to something we might have already known but that was damaging in more ways than we expected. In that aspect it is quite similar to his Essex County. Little hints in stories we later find to be interconnected, and which use these hints to drive the emotional charge.
Jeff Lemire is an amazing writer, almost everything he touches (except for Sweet Tooth) turns to gold. This is simply one of his other masterpieces, and although not my favourite (that privilege goes to Descender), it is at par with all his other incredible works.
At the beginning of the review I mentioned that “Lemire-esque” was the best way to describe the story, as someone that already knows his writing and art will get most out of it, however, it is a fantastic window for all those that wish to enter into his world of weirdness. Please, give it a try, it might just become a favourite.