Reviews by eknapp
Oddly poetic end-of-the-world story.
Ten years after the world ends, a pilot who lives with a misanthropic--but effective--survivalist nutjob flies off past his point-of-no-return to investigate a staticky radio transmission from three years previous.

Heller employs a weird, poetic style, eschewing quotation marks, sentences, pretty much all the cues I've been trained to rely on. It was awkward but effective at putting the reader in the head of the lonely, romantic, maybe-losing-it-a-little contractor-pilot protagonist.

Not terribly satisfying as an apocalypse novel. There's very little exploration of how the world ended (plague) or what was left afterward (evidently nothing) or what might be salvageable. Everyone is either Bad or dead. Guess Heller isn't a big believer in civilization.
Very Lemirean.
Another Jeff Lemire book about making mistakes, fumbling relationships, loss and loneliness. Or maybe I should say alone-ness. Not quite the same thing.

The titular welder works on (under) an oil rig off the coast of Canada (Nova Scotia maybe). He has a lonely and hugely pregnant wife but keeps leaving her because he loves the solitude of his work. Not a happy guy, our welder. He neglects his mother and is action-packed with issues regarding his father, who disappeared when he was a kid and is presumed drowned.

Then during a dive he has a supernatural experience/medical emergency. His doctor and coworkers want him to take time to get healthy and care for his expanding family; he's convinced that there are "answers" that can't wait, out there beneath the waves. He leaves his furious wife--who promptly goes into labor, natch--to go back into the ocean. At night. In a storm. Like his missing/dead father is believed to have done. Not a terribly bright guy, our welder.

The introduction by Damon Lindelof compares The Underwater Welder to a Twilight Zone episode, and that's pretty spot on. It reminds me of the episode where a nuclear holocaust leaves a prissy misanthropist with all the time in the world to pursue his love of reading and then SPOILER ALERT he breaks his glasses and there's no one to help him. The Underwater Welder is similarly about a guy getting what he thinks he wants.
A gorgeous art-only immigration story.
SPOILER: [A man leaves his wife and young daughter to sail off to a faraway land where he doesn't speak the language. He makes some friends, saves some money, and brings his family over for a joyful reunion.]

The Arrival is completely text-free and absolutely beautiful, entirely drawn in sepia-toned, I don't know, pencil sketches maybe. It's a bizarre blend of styles: the people all look 19th century Ellis Island; everybody has a familiar or pet inspired by Maurice Sendak (my wife says "Pokemon"), like the miniature whale-dog and the fish-bird; and the musical instruments and modes of transportation are right out of Dr. Seuss and Dr. Who respectively (I'm sure I saw a poggle horn, a zimbaphone, and possibly a three-nozzled bloozer). The writing on signs and immigration documents looks suspiciously like a supersecret transliteration code I devised when I was 7.

I like Tan's inventive text-free ways of communicating concepts like danger and the passage of time. The homeland that the unnamed man leaves behind is dark, with shadows of dragontails on all the city streets--in his new home he's startled once by a small apparently-harmless cat-thing with a similar tail. He shows time passing on his initial voyage with a sixty-panel (I counted) montage of clouds, and later with a 24-panel array of a transforming leaf-eye-dandelion. Neat.
Decent thriller, not as good as his later stuff.
An old-money New York architect witnesses a murder. An unusual group of Indian death-cult mobsters comes after him and his family to silence him, but no one--not his bosses, not the cops, not even his wife--believes him that the accumulating deaths are anything but unrelated accidents and random crimes. Like the star of an 80s action movie, he takes the fight to the Kali-worshipping gangsters.

Karma is one of Smith's early works, and he got a LOT better with Sacrifice and the Snowfall trilogy. The first half of the book simply bored me, it was hard to relate to a depressed, blue-blooded country club New Englander. I didn't really engage until the hero's extramarital affair was uncovered; he found himself in the interesting position of having to convince his wife that their daughter's life was in mortal danger from implausible bad guys immediately after having destroyed his credibility with her. THAT was juicy.
Meh. The Comedian's backstory was kind of interesting--his 60's association with the Kennedy clan and certain historical events was reasonably well put together. But it lacked the magic of Watchmen.

Rorschach's story was an embarrassment. His contempt for, well pretty much everyone, shone through but he spent the entire book getting his ass kicked repeatedly and tripping into lucky escapes. That's not Rorschach.