‘Ubby’s Underdog’ by Brenton E McKenna, a Broome-based author and illustrator, is the first major graphic novel published by an Indigenous creator. ‘Return of the Dragons’ is the epic climax to the ‘Ubby’s Underdog’ trilogy.
This story begins with a recap of the story so far. The cast of more than 30 characters is portrayed at the beginning of the book. In the final volume all the forces ranged against Ubby’s Underdogs in their search for the missing girl Sai Fong gather for the ultimate battle and face down the power-hungry pearl baron Donappleton, mercenaries and gangs, the black guards and the ruthless Uning – commander of a demon cult bent on hunting down Sai Fong. Meanwhile the awesome power of the sleeping dragons lay in wait. In finding and rescuing Sai Fong, can Ubby also save the Phoenix Dragon?
In ‘Return of the Dragons’ the graphic novel fully embraces the genre conventions of the superhero comic. Action, mythology, and fantasy are the dominant modes of the final volume. McKenna’s illustration is at its most dynamic and kinetic in this third book. Influences of classic genre comics are clear as the typography bursts with BWOOM! KKRRRRKK and ROOAAAAARR! We come face to face with the dragon in a vivid double page spread. The overall palette is lighter and brighter as the comic book conventions are energetically deployed.
The trilogy is built on narrative foundations of family stories, local history, and a rich mix of Indigenous, Malay, Chinese and settler people experiences. In ‘Return of the Dragons’ these influences, evident in the first two volumes, are drawn up into the fast-paced exploits of the superhero narrative led by Ubby – a feisty Indigenous girl from Broome. The book joyfully weaves hyper-local and international traditions and techniques into a thrilling adventure.
Brenton E McKenna is descended from the Yaruwu people of the Broome region of Western Australia.
Series: Ubby’s Underdogs Book 3