The Hero's Tale

Mary Morgan's Journal Book 4

Fiction - Graphic Novel/Comic
105 Pages
Reviewed on 09/01/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite

The Hero’s Tale by R.M. Wilburn takes us back to the near-future dystopian world ruled by the Great Orange Beast, Herr Bigly Rump, a thinly-disguised parody of the current incumbent of the White House. These are the last extracts from Mary Morgan’s diary as she faces her final battle to rid the world of the evil dictator who has enslaved most of the population in his heavily guarded city, Rumptopia. Due to the dire shortages of food and materials, Mary uses scraps of paper to chronicle her adventures which are beautifully presented in this stunning graphic novel by author and illustrator R.M. Wilburn. The narrative moves along at a fast pace and we are thrown straight into the action when Mary joins a team of child rebels to advance the planned overthrow. There are many twists and turns, amazing characters, and astounding scenarios like the Fud Faktoria where older members of the community are encouraged to work and where they are apt to disappear without a trace. But Rump is not satisfied with simply enslaving the population of Earth - he wants to be King of Space too. To realize his ambitions, he has built a fleet of rockets with which he plans to conquer Space. But Mary sees the rockets in a different light. She hatches an audacious plan of action which rapidly drives the narrative towards a fantastic conclusion. Will Rump be defeated or will he become King of Space? The race is on.

R.M. Wilburn has created another stunning graphic novel that resounds with the concerns of the average liberal thinker in a time of increasing political polarisation. Cleverly woven into the plot are issues of fake news and the difficulty of finding truth in amongst the ubiquitous propaganda of vested interests and the absence of reliable history. Issues of honor and integrity, of freedom and fairness all feature in the visually striking pages of this book. I have been fortunate to follow Mary Morgan’s diary from the first adventure and am happy to recommend this last volume which concludes the series. Ms. Wilburn is a talented author and illustrator; her humanity and concern for people and the planet shine out of the pages of her work; sumptuously illustrated volumes that deserve a broad readership.

Joel R. Dennstedt

The Hero’s Tale is R.M. Wilburn’s fourth installment in the Mary Morgan’s Journal series. As I have read and reviewed most of its delightful precursors, I feel that full disclosure is in order. These books, however, just get better and better, and I fear my reviews might soon begin to appear biased. They are not. My sincere and objective opinion of the series (and this book specifically): hugely creative – chock full of wonderful, intensely engaging graphic marvels; masterfully plotted – fantastical, but fully resonant with those mind-boggling events plaguing our chaotic and bewildering current state of affairs; artfully atmospheric – with most writing done on apparently crumpled pieces of stained and fragmented trash paper; and … just downright entertaining.

The plot of The Hero’s Tale by R.M. Wilburn is naturally the continuance and culmination of Books 1, 2, and 3. Bigly Rump is really messing up the world … for the second time. Satire, clear and simple. The rest is not. Time travel, child abduction, the incredibly menacing Mother Machine, hybrid human-animals, aliens, folks with names like Newton Gasbomb, Juggler Vein, and Picky Love, and a letter addressed to “Persistent Puzzler/Borderlands General Delivery/Possibly along the fourth dark alley past the leech pond. Or not.” You may be raising your puzzled eyebrows, but I bet you’re smiling. This is a mystery/thriller/adventure/detective story wrapped up in a funhouse ride at a literary amusement park. Alert: This ride is meant for highly attentive eyes, for there are details you do not want to miss. Not if you want the whole delicious story.

Jack Magnus

The Hero's Tale: Mary Morgan's Journal, Book 4 is a satirical graphic novel written and illustrated by R. M. Wilburn. “Help us save you” was written on a note that Mary Morgan and her friends and co-conspirators considered as they were gathered in Juggler Vein’s apothecary shop. The note had supposedly come from children, itself a cause for some celebration considering that Herr Rump and his cohorts had imprisoned and brainwashed what was thought to be all of the children. While all seemed very much lost for the year 2048, there were heroes still standing tall beside her, mostly immigrants from far-flung planets -- and then there were the children. Could the planet be saved from the rapacious grasp of Herr Rump? Was truth forever consigned to the dustbin of history? The premise of this series, that Herr Rump has returned to wreak havoc again, is particularly horrific to imagine, leaving the hapless reader, like Mary, wondering how they can somehow overcome Rump, his minions, the Mother Machine and the virus from which Rump even finds a means to profit. Can the children actually save them?

The Hero’s Tale beautifully ties up the stories and subthemes appearing throughout the Mary Morgan’s Journal series, and it does so in a fast-paced and exciting manner. I loved following Mary as she gets some shocking insights into herself and her identity and was not surprised to see her instantly calculating how best to use that knowledge in the ongoing battle between good and evil. Wilburn’s story is complex and complicated. The illustrations work hand-in-glove with the storyline. The hand-written notes covering every scrap of paper Morgan manages to find give urgency to the story, and the gallery of her companions-in-arms working tirelessly to save the planet and the universe swiftly metamorphose in the reader’s consciousness from strange and unworldly to achieving superhero status. Wilburn gives the reader much to think about, especially considering the precarious state we find ourselves in now. If one can learn to avoid the repetition of mistakes from looking at history, what additional insights can be found in novels such as this one, which visits the near future? The Hero's Tale: Mary Morgan's Journal, Book 4 is most highly recommended.

Lisa McCombs

In this excerpt from Mary Morgan’s diary, we learn that the esteemed ruler Herr Bigly Rump endorses the use of Recovery Elixer to control an otherwise uncontrollable Myowna Virus pandemic reigning over the world. As Rumptopians everywhere work toward world dominance, the children of the world counter with a mission to reinstate common sense, an age-old lesson seemingly forgotten by the powers that be. In the words of apothecary shop owner Juggler Vein, we see the condition of the world ironically similar to the political beliefs of differing populations: “We live in an age when so much of what our government does is cloaked in secrecy or swaddled in lies that information has become currency. Data of any sort is valuable, but that which can be verified is gold.” When Righteous Monger assumes the role of a new world leader, there is hope but nothing is guaranteed. Is it ever?

The Hero’s Tale, written and illustrated by R. M. Wilburn, is a hysterically accurate perspective on the state of our current national government. Packed to the brim with satirical comparisons of twenty-first-century world leaders, The Hero’s Tale is a fun yet serious commentary on the lack of common sense in world intent upon suffering historical repetition of past mistakes. The irony is crystal clear. Wilburn’s creation of such characters as apothecary shop owner Juggler Vein, photographer Newton Gasbomb, Posthumous Krill, to name a few, make this a laugh out loud adult graphic novel worthy of multiple readings. Not only satire lovers will enjoy this colorful read.

K.C. Finn

The Hero's Tale: Mary Morgan's Journal Book 4 is a work of fiction in the adventure, post-apocalyptic and mystery sub-genres, and was penned by author R. M. Wilburn. Continuing the Mary Morgan saga in its fully visual and wonderfully satirical fashion, we find ourselves once again embroiled in a fun-filled adventure. This time, Herr Bigly Rump has realized the amazing world-saving potential which children have and has therefore stolen most of them and locked them away. It’s up to Mary to find whatever remains of the free children and build a pint-sized army of heroes to go in and bring the Rump down at long last.

Author R. M. Wilburn has been delighting middle-grade readers with these stunning adventures for quite a few volumes now, and I am always amazed by the new twists and excitements that keep the plot fresh and challenge our central characters to continue to grow and change. Mary has all the heart and soul from the very first book, but she’s now a fully emotionally rounded hero passing her mantle to others around her, and it makes her a truly inspiring figure to read about. As always, I loved the satirical touches which adult readers enjoying a read-along can have a chortle at, but it’s also a great way to introduce kids to the idea of satire and of the critical questions they should be asking in the real world. Overall, The Hero’s Tale is, once again, a highly accomplished adventure by a talented writer, and one which I will always recommend.