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The Underwater Welder: 07/15/16

The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire

The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire is a graphic novel horror story of the Twilight Zone variety. Jack Joseph is happiest when he's underwater, working as a welder. The land, a remote village in Nova Scotia holds too many troubling memories, and the worry that he'll repeat the same mistakes as his father.

The back story of Jack and his father is revealed in scenes that are hard to distinguish as flash backs or as time travel. All of them center on a pocket watch Jack finds as he's working his last job before taking time off for paternity leave.

The pocket watch forces Jack to relive and remember the last time he saw his father. His father's fate relates directly to Jack's fears that he will abandon his wife and child in the same way.

Road signs in the abandoned town.

Although the book is set in a remote village and off shore this graphic novel through the geography of the village fits beautifully into the "road not taken" type of road narrative. Jack is imprisoned by circumstances (emotional, paranormal, and physical) in his town. Leaving is not an option and when he does try to literally run away, he is prevented by the main street looping in on itself (just as it does in Pleasantville (1998).

The only way to personal freedom is to face the fears head on. In Bone Gap, Finn's option is to cross through the cornfield. For Jack, it means diving, which is about as off road as you can possibly go.

Five stars

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