Here is some advice for those whom seek to become comic book readers: Follow the creators.
H-E-L-L-O everyone! It’s your cosmic comic reader from Gallifrey, Richard! If you can tell, I just made a Doctor Who reference. Why? BECAUSE I LOVE DOCTOR WHO! What does it have to do with this review? Absolutely nothing! Now, The rule mentioned up top is a rule I’ve tried to live by since I started reading comics. Mainly because it makes for a much better experience. The flip side of that is to follow characters when reading comics. However, Not every Batman, Superman, or X-Men book on the shelves is worth reading. Plus, If you follow creators, It will lead you down roads of comics you never would have been to if you’d just followed characters. One of those roads is the road of Indie comics.
If you ask any hardcore comic reader, including myself, where to find the best comics these days, They’d probably say Image, Dark Horse, or any other creator owned publisher. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love books from DC and Marvel. Heck, the majority of the books I follow are from DC. That being said, the best quality work comes from indie comic books, and I never would have discovered this if I’d only followed characters. Also, I never would have discovered this if it wasn’t for my friend Nick who works at my local comic shop, Bills Books and More.
Anyways, one of the creators I’ve started following like crazy is a guy named Jeff Lemire. A lot of DC fans might know him from his amazing comic runs on Animal Man, Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., or Superboy. However, some of his best work are his original comics like The Essex County books or Sweet Tooth. Recently, Lemire released a new original graphic novel called Underwater Welder. After reading it without any breaks, I can easily state that Underwater Welder is the best original graphic novel I’ve read this year! I love it so much, I’m going to call it the best of 2012 before 2012 is even over! Yea…I just did that! If someone can officially remove Pluto as a planet of our solar system, then I can do this!
So, Underwater Welder follows a character named Jack Joesph whom works as an underwater welder off the coast of Nova Scotia. Being an underwater welder is a tough gig, but Jack is about to experience one of the toughest jobs anyone could have…being a father. Now, as the story progresses, we see Jack straying further and further from the pressures of fatherhood and other personal issues. That is, until one day something…unimaginable happens to him. An experience that leads him to discovering the truth of things in his life, and turning him into a better person fit to be a Dad.
The biggest theme throughout the book seems to be the relationships between fathers and sons. A theme that hits rather close to home for me. I won’t go into the details of why, but I will say this book means a lot to me on that aspect. As far as the other aspects go, this book is just as amazing and touching. I love the way Lemire writes his characters. They seem so real to the point where you start to think these are actual people. You relate to the characters so much on so many different levels. Even when the book goes into it’s weirder more complex story beats. Plus, you really care about every single character present, and the situations they go through.
Now, in case you aren’t aware, Lemire also drew this book! His artwork might be hard for some to get into, but I found it beautiful! His artwork is very serial and stylized. Plus, with the way the story is, his artwork fits perfectly. I couldn’t see anyone drawing this book besides Lemire. I don’t think it would have the same impact if it were drawn by someone else. The fact that Lemire plays both writer and artist gives the themes more of an emotional punch when they play out, if that makes sense.
I honestly can’t find a single thing wrong with this book. I’m sure it has it’s flaws as most things do, but I fail to see anything. I am just too in love with this book to care about the flaws present, if any. At the end of the day, In my opinion, Underwater welder is a masterpiece in comic form. It tells a personal, weird, and compelling coming-of-age story about a Man on the verge of parenthood. Its a very real tale told in a Twilight Zone fashion, and its worth multiple reads.
I give Underwater Welder an easy 5/5!
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