I nearly put Jeff Lemire’s graphic novel The Underwater Welder back before even giving the story a proper go. Why? Because the Introduction’s author likened the story to “the most spectacular episode of The Twilight Zone that was never produced.” That’s not what set me off; I actually love The Twilight Zone. What set me off was the author himself: Damon Lindelof. Otherwise known as “The Butcher of
GallitepStar Trek Movie Scripts.”
My honest initial reaction was, if Lindelof knows as much about The Twilight Zone as he does about Trek, then no thank you. However, I resisted the temptation to judge the book based solely on the questionable choice of Lindelof as the one responsible for introducing this novel. And I’m very glad that I did.
Lemire’s story of Jack Joseph, he of the titular profession, is equal parts eerie, surreal, mysterious, and moving. Jack is facing the life change of a newborn son—something that he’s struggling to embrace and so he spends as much time as possible hiding in the dark depths of the ocean, as far from his life on land as he can get. There are reasons, of course, for this fear, and the joy of this novel is Lemire’s slow reveal of those reasons.
While not the greatest artist, Lemire proves himself to be an adept storyteller. He shifts Jack through memories and—seemingly—time itself, piecing together a tale of loss and renewal that could have suffocated under the reek of triteness in the wrong hands. However, Lemire infuses the story with enough creepiness and intrigue to keep it from teetering off into the abyss of schmaltz that could have awaited Jack and us.
Final Verdict: Lindelof aside, I greatly enjoyed this novel and definitely want to add this one to my collection at some point.