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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Underwater Welder
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Jack Joseph has a wife with a baby on the way and a job welding pipes underwater for an oil rig off the coast of Nova Scotia in the small town he grew up in. Things should be great - good job, happy family - but Jack's haunted by the disappearance of his father 20 years ago who went diving one night during Hallowe'en and never returned. His dreams have seeped over from the night into the daytime and under the sea, welding pipes, he begins to see and hear things from those dreams. And lately his dreams have seemed so real.

Jeff Lemire's impressive comics career has really taken off in the last couple years with his brilliant creator-owned "Sweet Tooth" series for Vertigo, his one-off book "The Nobody", and signing on to DC's New 52 reboot series "Animal Man" and "Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE", and he continues this successful streak with the excellent story of "The Underwater Welder". It reads a lot like a Twilight Zone episode with supernatural elements creeping into the story early on before totally submerging it (pun intended) and taking the reader with it.

Lemire's line-work in his art is perfectly suited to the ghostly story presented here with many disturbing elements such as Joseph's father's alcoholic face staring out of an obituary page to the reader or the surreal experiences Joseph experiences under the waves. The parallels between Joseph and his father's life is also haunting as Lemire merges the two into an intertwining and complex storyline that adds to the feeling of unease this reader felt as the story unfolded.

I'm a sucker for ghost stories especially when they're told in a compelling and mysterious way like this and I've been a huge fan of Lemire's since the "Essex County Trilogy" so I'm predisposed to enjoy this book, but it has all the elements of a successful comic book: great twisty story, likeable main character, great art with imaginative layouts, and clever plotting. "The Underwater Welder" is a superb book from one of the most gifted comics artist/writers living today and is a fantastic read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 16, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Jeff Lemire's The Underwater Welder plays out as the best Twilight Zone episode never produced. His best work yet, Lemire's subtle and powerful storytelling takes us from the rural Ontario of the Eisner and Harvey Award-nominated Essex County Trilogy to the hauntingly beautiful undersea world of Jack Joseph, an underwater welder on an oil rig off the coast of Nova Scotia Canada.

Jack moves back to his small Canadian hometown with his wife Suzie, who is 9 months pregnant. Things look fine with his exotic job as an underwater welder on an offshore oil rig until one day at work when Jack is visited by the ghost of his long dead father, a salvage diver in these same waters. As he struggles to come to grips with his visions, we gradually realize that Jack is a man haunted by his past. Through a series of very well done flashbacks, we learn about Jack's childhood, his divorced parents, and why Jack has a particularly difficult time with the holiday of Halloween.

Jeff Lemire captures the subtle mood and lonely feel of a small Canadian maritime town perfectly, and the underwater scenes are simply breathtaking. The eerie story drew me in immediately, and sweeps along with weird twists and turns coming at such a rate that I couldn't put it down. With The Underwater Welder, Jeff Lemire redefines the boundries of the graphic novel yet again. Rod Serling would be proud.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
This story has been billed as "the greatest Twilight Zone episode never made," and that statement hits the nail right on the head.

The story is finely crafted, the characterization well-rounded, and the pacing smooth. My only complaint about the book is that the art style takes some getting used to during the earlier parts of the story. That said, it works well during the sci-fi-heavy segments.

Bottom-line: this is a very good book a I highly recommend any comics fan spend their hard-earned money on it.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Jeff Lemire has been one of my favorite writers and artists since I first stumbled across Essex County a few years ago. His ability to create such captivating stories that keep the reader on the edge of their seat wondering what will happen next and his sketchy art that captures the essence of the human characters so well, keeps me coming back for more. When I saw that Jeff had Underwater Welder coming out this year I eagerly preordered it without even reading the description. All I needed to see was that stunning cover image, the eyes of a diver peering out of his welding suit just watching us so intently. I cracked open the book as soon as it arrived and dived into the tale and was swept away.

Let's take a seemingly average 33 year old male named Jack Joseph. He has a steady job as an underwater welder on an oilrig, he has a seemingly happy marriage, and their first child is on the way. All in all a rather happy tale. But the thoughts of his father who disappeared twenty years ago on Halloween began to invade his dreams, both waking and sleeping. Jack begins to see and hear visions from the past, and the real world becomes less and less real. And then on Halloween, the dreams become real and reality becomes a dream. And Jack must find the way out of his dreams before everything he cherishes vanishes forever.

The story is like nothing I've read before, as Jeff weaves a tale of family, hope, mystery, and the stuff of nightmares all together to create a powerful tale. Jeff just creates these compelling characters that play off of each other really well. We have the main character of Jack, the father to be who slowly seems to be losing his mind, but really wants to do what is best for his family. And then we have Jack's father who vanished all of those years ago, who slowly succumbed to alcohol, but really did want what was best for his son. And their two world collide in such a powerful fashion years latter that it makes you stop and think on what you cherish and treasure the most in the world.

The artwork in this story is absolutely beautiful. Lemire shows a deft hand at capturing the emotions and expressions of his characters and the world that surrounds them with pen and ink. Each line on the craggy faces of the characters shows their age, experience, wisdom, and regrets at life gone by. And in the landscapes you see the beauty and the harshness of the world that they live in. Jeff's style works particularly well for this story, as the sketchy line work and the ink washes create the perfect moody atmosphere and the roiling sea.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2014
Format: Paperback
The Underwater Welder, by Canadian author and artist Jeff Lemire is a book that, upon completion, my only regret was that it took me so long to get around to purchasing. The story follows a Canadian (oil rig) welder, Jack Joseph, from a small coastal town in Nova Scotia. As Halloween approaches, Jack navigates his strained marital relationship, further complicated by the imminent arrival of a baby as well as the haunting memories of the mysterious disappearance of his own father on Halloween two decades prior. To delve further into the plot would be to spoil the mystery and impact of the narrative.

The story itself combines the best elements of a good Twilight Zone episode with the heart of a writer who seems to be providing just as much autobiography as he is fiction. The grayscale lends itself perfectly to the haunting sense of mystery throughout the book, while Lemire's linework gives a sense of frailty to characters in a story centered around falling out with the ones you love. Lemire makes a strong sense of foreshadowing; he writes clearly different scenes with a sense of deja vu', not only for the characters, but also for the readers. The sense of character built up within 224 pages is astounding; this book, though significantly shorter, should be regarded along with the best indie graphic novels.

Though independent titles tend to be pushed to the side by comic fans in order to complete a more mainstream title (such as the latest Batman event), I absolutely recommend you pick this up now. The mainstreams will be there when you finish this. Sit down and read it when you have an hour or two to dedicate to the book entirely, and let it pull you in. You won't regret it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2012
Format: Paperback
Underwater Welder is my first time learning about Canadian Jeff Lemire. I don't keep up with DC and Vertigo monthlies, so to see a stand-alone publication was the oh-two for my curiosity. It's a simple ghost-story, with emotional baggage like a 50-lb lead suit, but told in a way you never get tired of the characters before their resolution. The foreward compares it to the Twilight Zone, but I'm even less familiar with that. Thankfully this bay town isn't something you hate on sight, like Gilmore Girls and towns where you understand Jack wanting to be alone, oh no. This is almost like the Japanese heta-uma in its inking, except Lemire cares about not pooping on the page, and rounds his characters out well visually, in case you hate the story. There is even one memorable scene where the frame closes in on daddy's face to purposely focus on the facial features; a ballsy move for any comix where you're not sure when you're underwater, and when you're not.

What I do admire Lemire for is how he spreads his ink out. When you were five, you didn't care if your palm smudged the page, even right across the cartoon character's face. Lemire tames these smudges from his younger self into dirty five o'clock shadows and misty seascapes. His use of spacing in a sort of minimalism X maximalism is endearing and even reminiscent of Paul Pope.

If this was water-color, paint by number, stay within the edges, clean-up after yr done-type work: well, it just wouldn't work. Lemire works good working on his own. Leave him to his own auspices, DC, damn.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2012
Format: Paperback
The Underwater Welder is really quite extraordinary. The story is intelligent, touching, and original. It is unlike any other graphic novel I've encountered.

Jack Joseph is an underwater welder, working on an oil rig off the coast of Nova Scotia. Strange things happen to Jack after he finds a pocket watch during a dive. He starts to hear things. He has vivid dreams of his childhood, remembers his father telling him about sunken treasure that he devoted his life to finding. Jack finds himself lost in memories; large chunks of time disappear. But Jack's father -- an unreliable drunk -- drowned long ago, having never found anything but junk in his undersea explorations, including an old pocket watch he gave to Jack. Jack is haunted by memories of his father, and after his last dive, he might be haunted by more than memories ... or he might be a ghost himself.

The Underwater Welder tells a powerful, dramatic story about a man who is forced to confront his demons. Much of the story is told with images rather than words, but the writing is nonetheless well above-average for a graphic novel.

The art is both minimalist and expressive, an unusual combination. Shades of gray are used effectively to convey the feeling of being underwater. Sometimes the graphics are as fractured as Jack's mind. The art and story complement each other perfectly, making The Underwater Welder an outstanding contribution to the field of graphic novels.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Just finished this book by Jeff Lemire (writer of Sweet Tooth, Animal Man, Justice League Dark). It was ... very touching.

In the intro Damon Lindelof calls it "the most spectacular episode of The Twilight Zone that was never produced." And that is an apt description of the book, this could easily have been something from the Twilight Zone. I actually want to believe that it was a script that got lost that Jeff found and decided to illustrate. It's equal parts Where Is Everybody, Walking Distance, Passage for Trumpet and The Trouble With Templeton, all early season greats of the Twilight Zone.

The story centers around Jack, a 33 year old underwater welder who lives in a small town with his pregnant wife. They are expecting the arrival of their first born within a couple of weeks when Jack has an "episode" of sorts while welding at an off shore rig. Sent home early to rest and prepare for the baby, Jack has an all consuming desire to go back under the water to make sense of what he saw. All of this happens on Halloween night, the night Jack's father disappeared all those years ago and thought dead at sea.

I've been a huge fan of Jeff's newest works for DC, Animal Man, Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Eternity and sadly, ashamedly, this is the first time I've read something original of his. My copy of Essex County is in the mail as we speak, I swear. But this, this makes me all the more impressed/fanboy. This is only the second time that I've seen his artwork, the first being in the Batman Legends of the Dark Knight tale The Butler Did It with Damon Lindelof. The art reminds me to that of Eddie Campbell, Jose Munoz, and Paul Pope. I'm ordering the Nobody and Sweet Tooth as I write this, I swear.

But, I get this one. I do. I lost my father to cancer in my teens and I am now myself a new father. So it hits me on a couple of levels. He does a great job of tackling father worship and the never wanting to see your idols as human and the fear of becoming our parent's short comings. He reminds us that not only do we all fail, but that it's more important to have tried and to try again.

If you see this book on the shelf, buy it. And then buy it as a gift for your father or your friend that is a father. They might not get the funny books, but they'll get the story. They may even thank you for it.

I can't actually wait to reread this on Halloween.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
Jeff Lemire has fast become one of my favorite original creators. His Vertigo run of Sweet Tooth is absolutely fantastic, beautiful, and dark. This story is not that. I see this as a beautiful story of the average. That's what Lemire does for me more than anything. He makes me love stories about regular people. I myself am prone to the abstract and the interesting, and this grounds me. A better example would be his Essex County collection, but this story works better. I can't complain about anything that he has created. This story left me with tears. This story left me with a sense of piece. It's a subtle, beautiful read that satisfies. It's a bit weird, and homely. A great masterpiece for an comic fan.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 11, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Lemire's art is as skillful and warm as it gets. I just love when people with such artistic skill are using this crude negligent style where every line looks random but in it's own right place.
And Lemire knows how to tell the story by slowly revealing the full picture, detail by detail, which holds you until the end.
The only thing I don't like about this book is that Damon Lindeloff compared it to episode of Twilight Zone. I couldn't stop comparing this book to TZ and trying to guess what comes next instead of just read the book.
Anyway, this is one of the best graphic novels in the world.
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