Somebody’s coming—Quick! Everybody stand on boxes and pose like statues!

As far as the plot is concerned, the premise is sound enough:  Save the bees from extermination by relocating them. The method is still ambiguous.  Georgia, at least, seems to have the basic equipment:  White bee handler’s suit with netted hat and a smoker with an attachment, presumably to reach up to the statue. Are the boxes portable hives? Or perhaps just boxes to put the actual hive and bees into?

Anyway, their lack of planning for lookouts has imperiled their plans. They should have watched The Great Escape for tips.

Could it be that Violet was not as naïve as they thought, and so she simply waited for the women to get started so she could catch them in the act? Or is Mark once again butting into Cherry’s affairs?

The Garden Club Commandoes take the beachhead!

Unlike Mark and Diana, it appears that the people on this side of Lost Forest recognize the season for what it is and dress for it. So, Dolores is able to easily chase away the always-effete Violet, who must have been fantasizing about dead bees. And shouldn’t Violet have been suspicious of some person who just happened to be passing by at this time of day?

But with a skill that matches former Mark Trail artists, Jules Rivera neatly telescopes the action and omits just how and why Violet disappeared back into the Society’s house. Equally amazing is that The Black Rose Garden Club members simply parked their car in a culvert in front of the house, whereupon the ladies gleefully and baldly got out! They are not even trying to hide themselves. I’m thinking that Mandrake the Magician must have been invoked from his KFS-sponsored comic strip to gesture hypnotically and cause Violet to take a nap. Either that, or she’s dumber than we thought.

The Weekly Recap and Sunday Nature Talk

This week saw the conclusion of the drawn-out and melodramatic confrontation between Mark and the two “persuaders” sent by the Duck Duck Goose Shipping Company to stop Mark from prying into their business. Well, as far as Mark knows, it’s just about zebra mussels. However, the two goons did not see fit to waste much time talking. One gathers, from their hokey attire and clumsy technique, that discussion is not a part of their job description. While they spent a lot of time banging on the door to Diana’s B&B, demanding access, Cliff and Diana got hot and sweaty inside, and it wasn’t from proximity to each other.  But why the near-panic? The odds were on their side, after all.
When Mark’s testosterone levels reached their max, he decided to open the door, only to be met with a haymaker from the smaller thug, so-named Boffo. Mark returned the compliment, which made a more lasting impression. Diana’s shovel to the head of the second guy must have had a similar result, as the Saturday strip showed our three madcap adventurers speeding away in Mark’s station wagon. What we didn’t see was the time after they downed the invaders. Was there any inspection of the two hoods? Did they snap photos to post on SnapChat? Did they even take the goon’s shoes to slow them down? Not as far as I can tell. Instead, they zipped out of there as if a tsunami was right behind them. Mark and his companions seem to have no larger understanding of the Big Picture at this point. While the gang speeds on to Cliff’s fishing lodge to hide out, let’s take a look at today’s nature strip.

[edited] My guess for the topic today was frogs, but garden clubs won out. I reckon that’s a nice enough lead-in to Cherry’s upcoming week. So, what is all that lightly-drawn vegetation we see in several panels? Are they symbols of future growth? If Jules is doing the coloring for Sundays, then I suppose we must see these as metaphors of representative results of a garden club. Mark, quit being such a Vanity Queen and let Cherry have her own time in the Sunday Spotlight once in a while!

Not to carp too much, but wouldn’t more “action” in these panels (e.g. gardeners doing the activities they are mentioning) be more effective at making Rivera’s points than a bunch of static “photo-op” poses?

Well, Cherry and her gang of green-thumb commandoes have a midnight date with a statue and a bunch of bees. Remember? And I’m looking forward to the action and the fallout!

My name is Mark Twain and I approved this jumping frog

That’s one high-jumping frog we see there. “Boing!” indeed. As the crew escape in Mark’s car, what we don’t see here is the conclusion to the B&B invasion. I had to flip back to see if I missed a day…Nope! I suppose that’s one way to keep the story moving along. Just omit the interesting bits.

We are forced to presume the two heavies were knocked cold. But then why the hasty exit? They should have had sufficient time to tie them up, grab their IDs, or even call the cops. Instead, it’s “Brave Sir Robin” time, as they run away. Sorry Diana, but running away won’t get you any answers. And speaking of cars, where is the vehicle those two dudes had to have arrived in?  Mark and crew hopefully slashed their tires to prevent a car chase. I’m guessing there are not too many parking lots in Lost Forest where they can hide out.

On the artistic front, the first panel vaguely reminds me of Allen’s work. Even the car has that “clip-art” feel to it that was common with the vehicles Allen included.

And the beat goes on; yes, the beat goes on, on, on, on, on

After three days of watching Boffo hit Mark, it’s nice to finally see the favor returned. Well, we take our FOJs where we find them. If we can believe our eyes and Rivera’s drawing, a reversal of fortune should result in these two corporate yokels being the ones tied to chairs and getting interrogated. Best leave that to Diana.

But Diana was a bit late getting out the warning and employing her defensive move. She should have had “Heavy-Duty” on her radar the moment he and Boffo barged in. At least the shovel hit doesn’t display a “HIT!” sound effect as it impacts the parietal (or maybe occipital) bone. A good thunk on the back of the noggin should put that dude on the floor for a while.

Now, is Cliff hunting up some rope or hiding and hoping that these two dudes don’t recognize him? I’m still skeptical about his involvement and motivation.

“Just you wait and see! I’ll show YOU. . .just you wait! . . . so, you still waiting?”

(edited) You know, if somebody talks about doing something, chances are that the something won’t get done. I’ve got a hunch that this pointless interlude—which includes explaining the origin of the nickname “BOFFO” which has little or nothing to do with hitting somebody—is a preamble to Diana taking charge while Mark swings his fists in mock anger. The last time Mark exercised his hands it was an exercise in futility. Well, let’s hope that I’m wrong about this, but with that stereotypical guy-brag in panel 4, it is hard not to believe Jules Rivera is setting up Mark to take a dive once again.

And this place is supposed to be Diana’s room? I’m sorry, but they are in the front room of a “bed & breakfast” house, which I presume includes multiple private rooms for boarders, including the owner. Of course, all those people are conveniently someplace else for the day. It simplifies the logistics of the story, of course, so that’s okay. Now, why did Mark open that door?

Let’s all have a boffo good time!

While I like the way Rivera uses the door to define the two spaces in panel 1, and though I wonder if Rivera is being ironic or just hyperbolic in that first message box, I do have to laugh at the silliness of panel 4. Still, faced with this exciting exchange (and you can decide if I’m being ironic or hyperbolic), the only thing I really want to know is “Are we finally going to see Mark’s Fists of Justice live up to their name?

How patient will these bad guys be?

So, what is this sense of mortal fear our brave trio seems to be experiencing?  Mark thinks going up against a cargo ship’s defenses designed to repel a gang of armed pirates is somehow easier than dealing with two middle-aged dudes who like to knock loudly and yell.  Does he think these guys came armed with heavy weapons? Perhaps Mark had nightmares of the now-missing “Mommy Trail” knocking on his bedroom door in the middle of the night, only to find nobody there.

Okay, I’m with those who think it’s time for Mark to quit acting like the too-sensitive lead character in a Hollywood Rom-Com and start taking charge of the situation. The Monty Python song “Brave Sir Robin” comes to mind. Diana never explained why she stole Cherry’s shovel, so she clearly cannot be trusted. Wait… Isn’t anybody over there capturing this drama on video for their big article, or at least for a potential lawsuit? WHERE IS A TEENAGER WITH A PHONE WHEN YOU NEED ONE?

“Quick! Everybody hide. Maybe they’ll stop knocking and leave!”

Gosh, Mark. Maybe you guys should climb out of a window and just sneak away. I suppose some heavy door knocking can be quite disturbing and intimidating . . . if it was going on at 2 AM while you were sleeping, that is! Instead, Mark and his cohorts seem unsure of how to respond. Well, Diana does at least have some kind of an idea, which Mark is keen to squelch with yet another lame pun. Cliff’s silence and doubtful expressions suggests that his military experience did not include any time in special forces.

And when did Mark figure out who these cats were, anyway? They didn’t exactly identify themselves or why they are there. As far as Mark knows, they could have been new reporters sent by the magazine to replace him and Diane for their lack of progress and dubious conduct. However, I suppose one must grant Mark some degree of intelligence—even if he rarely shows it—and allow him to deduce the intentions of people who hammer on doors and say they only want to “talk”.  We’ve all seen plenty of crime shows and know how that kind of talk usually plays out. Those guys haven’t even bothered to identify themselves. But this is what we should expect after schools quit teaching social etiquette.

The Weekly Recap and Sunday Nature Talk

Well, dear readers, let’s get up-to-date on the events of the past week:  Mark, Cliff, and Diana are holed up in Diana’s B&B, where they have been viewing Mark’s underwater photos of zebra mussel infestation on the Duck Duck Goose cargo ship. Diana focused on her own laptop, perhaps doing research, or maybe checking up on her NFT valuations.

They seem to think their lives could be in danger if Duck Duck Goose Shipping discovers their whereabouts. Mark takes on the role of Crisis Catalyst by assuring everybody that none of the bad guys even knows his name. Of course, the timely “bamming” on the front door announces that dark forces have, indeed, learned about him. With a shovel and their own determination, Mark, Diana, and Cliff intend to make this their own Alamo Moment. For zebra mussels.

It is logical, of course, for them to hunker down and try to solidify their field work with some good investigatory research. But I’m not sure we are seeing that. In fact, Diana urged Mark to quickly upload his photos to some web site where they can be publicly viewed, to protect themselves. This reminds me of the “solution” that the Herp Hacienda Gang used to defeat Cricket Bro’s sitting on Aparna’s animal air tracking app:  They stole it and uploaded it to a public server for anyone to acquire. The fact that Duck Duck Goose’s concerns are completely different from Diana and Mark sets up an interesting plot crossroads, where it is possible both groups will continue to work at cross purposes, unaware of the other’s true motives. We’ll see what happens on Monday, but for now, it’s the Sunday Nature Chat!

As usual, Rivera gives us a nicely designed title panel and a timely subject for the season. The turkeys are well drawn. They are found in neighborhoods and other public places, not just in country fields. I often see them walking around the university campus. Okay, turkeys are an easy subject. I’d like to see Rivera use Sundays to bring reader attention to lesser-known animals and nature topics.

However, the popular tale about the turkey being considered for the national bird (or on a coin) is just fiction. Turns out that Ben Franklin was only making a comparison to the bald eagle in a letter to his daughter, Sarah; but that seems to be as far as it ever got. And by the way, Mark, George Washington never threw silver dollars across the Potomac.