The Weekly Recap and Sunday Nature Chat

In case you missed this week, lots of stuff caught fire! Cricket Bro’s car caught fire after it hit a tree, so Mark and Professor Sharp wound up saving him. Not sure Sharp would have done that on his own. Another forest fire appeared and started burning up the event site. Panic ensued. Cherry and Mark found each other and started looking for Rusty, who was still at the halfpipe when it inconveniently fell apart…on Rusty. While trapped, he saw The Seaside Specter staring down at him. Real or hallucination? Not sure, because it was Mark and Cherry who found him. Maybe. We only saw the aftermath of the rescue, so it remains to be said by Rusty who it was who pulled him out from under the halfpipe ruin. Meanwhile, we are not sure what happened to Happy, or even Cricket Bro’s brother. Finally, it seems Sharp’s attempt to stop the scam failed, as Rivera noted that the Brothers somehow sold lots of monkey NFTs. It’s enough to make you want to stay on this Sunday’s strip for a while longer. Keep your hands in your pockets as you read the Sunday strip!

An interesting take on the goat:  not the usual overview, but a case of ‘applied goatness’, I reckon. The West Coast is going to need a hell of a lot of goats to make a significant contribution to minimizing forest fires. Still, it’s a pretty clever idea. But will they be left on their own in the forests? Will they “go native” or become feral, wild goats?

Greatest “what” of all time? I’m not sure, but it’s something to chew on.

“Breaker 1-9. We got a 10-70. C’mon Rusty, what’s your 20?”

We finish out the week with The Seaside Specter once again mysteriously disappearing, as Rusty is located and rescued by Mom and Dad. Ho-hum. No concerns about Happy Trail’s safety, it seems. I’m truly glad that, surrounded by a raging forest fire burning everything around then and sending people running in all directions, the Trail Family can find the time to stand around for group hugs. Maybe Happy shows up to get them outta there.

Rivera informs us that Professor Bee Sharp’s warning about the Scam Brothers went unnoticed, as they somehow still raked in the cash with their Monkey NFT Event.  Good does not always triumph.

So, we’re at a junction in the storyline. Do we continue with the fire story arc?  Do we follow Mark Trail Tradition and jump ahead to the next day? Or go with the venerable “we temporarily interrupt this story to set up the next adventure” direction? I reckon we’ll find out Monday!

Sorry, but doesn’t smoke rise above fire?

This may sound self-serving and phony, but I actually did consider mentioning the Seaside Specter yesterday as a possible candidate to rescue Rusty, but more as a throwaway joke than a serious prediction. I went with Kelly, instead. But who is playing the Seaside Specter? I’m thinking it’s The Professor. My luck, it will be Happy Trail.

The larger concern here is that Rusty’s Adventure has dribbled out here and there. You see it and you’re not sure if Rusty is just filling in a few panels for Mark, or if Rivera is turning from Mark to give Rusty his due.  Allen certainly gave Rusty co-star billing in the Mexican Smuggling Caper a few years ago. I think this iteration of Rusty might be a tad younger than his predecessor, which might explain the difference. On the other hand, Rivera has plausibly linked Rusty’s cryptid hobby into the Oregon Vacation story.

Rusty Kan’t Katch a Break

You sharp-eyed readers surely noticed that Rivera spelled “Crash” with a “C” today, not a “K”, which supports my flimsy hypothesis that her exploding EUV is probably a German car. Not that it really matters, but how else to explain “Krash” and “Krack” (for the EUV’s windshield)?

Moving on, forest fires are known to sometimes move very fast, so I reckon we can’t dismiss the speed with which this event site is now aflame.  I’d criticize Rusty’s choice of a safe place (the wooden halfpipe), but he is just a kid. And just maybe that sheet of wood prematurely falling on Rusty really is heavier than it looks. Just another example of the slipshod work that the Crypto Brothers demand.

But we ask, who will come to his rescue? Mark already performed one fire-based rescue. What about the three girls? It’s doubtful; they were older and probably had the good sense to run in the opposite direction of the fire.  I think it comes down to Pappy Happy. He’s the only one not accounted for, unless we discover that Kelly Welly is also working this gig.

And what about Happy Trail?

This might look like we are seeing things wrap up, but I doubt it. Now, why would Rusty be in danger, unless he is in danger of losing his innocence? And about time, too!   Aside from the approaching forest fire, there are several other issues that require Mark’s attention. Oh, you can list them as well as I can, so I won’t bother. Besides, I’m on vacation, so I can be a little lazy now and then.

But at the top of my Resolution List is that all of these West Coast Crazies disappear from the strip for at least a year to make room for new faces and new personalities. I think Rivera has gotten enough satire and wackiness out of these people as she can for the near future.

So where are the air bags?

Dang! Even Professor Bee Sharp can’t help pontificating in a crisis. He’s out-Trailing Mark!  And an interesting choice, isn’t it, to have The Professor be the one to extricate Cricket Bro, rather than Mark. This is one of Rivera’s positive mods to the strip, where Mark is not always the singular heroic figure, doing all of the rescuing and hero-type actions on his own. However, Rivera might have done a bit more research on what front-end crashes look like.

Burning Questions

Is this the same fire that started at the lumber mill?! If so, shouldn’t they have seen it over the past several days? The May 9 strip showed what appeared to be firemen working on the fire, so we are given to believe that fire was extinguished. Would Mark and family be so cavalier as to leisurely hang around if it was still a threat?

Speaking of cavalier, the people in panel 1 are certainly dedicated or completely jaded if they can still just stand around after Cricket Bro just raced across the lawn to try and run over two people. Even a fiery crash apparently did nothing to excite them enough to go over and take a look.

Employing one of Rivera’s standard compositions in panel 2, Trail and Sharp look upon the crashed car, but not out of veneration. Instead, it portends a bad omen that Cricket Bro is locked in an electric car. This must mean getting him out is going to be problematic. Problems on top of problems. Not a good day for anybody, except maybe Professor Sharp. Hmm….

The Weekly Recap and Sunday Nature Chat

Joseph Nebus wrote a recent “What’s Going On In Mark Trail” blog which succinctly expresses many things I’ve been wading through the past year about Rivera’s take on the strip. And more. It is worth reading.

I still appreciate Rivera’s desire to add more complexity and storylines to the strip, but it can be hard to keep track of things in the constrained format of a comic strip. It’s calls for longer storylines, though readers (in general) seem to prefer quicker, shorter stories. I don’t mind length, as long as it is done to fill in and move the story. This past week saw Professor Sharp’s exposé of the Crypto/NFT scam broadcast during the outdoor celebration as well as Cricket Bro’s violent reaction, resulting in his attempt to literally run over Trail and Sharp. Instead, he crashed his car into a tree, resulting in a fiery explosion. Though Mark’s first thought is rescuing Cricket Bro, what will Sharp do?

Part of the complexity, as we have seen, is former opponents now acting more or less in concert with Trail, though with different motives and objectives. I think the currently popular portmanteau is “frenemy”. Cricket Bro, Diana Daggers, and Professor Bee Sharp have all opposed Mark, but recently played up to him, though Sharp’s relationship is more ambiguous and conflicted. In short, these are all shades of gray, not simply old-school black and white. Like the difference between “Dragnet” and “NYPD Blue.” Mark’s Dad may be the most complex and mysterious character in the strip, if you think about it. I’m hoping we see new opponents, so this doesn’t turn into a version of Batman fighting a circle of the same six villains.

A good Sunday topic, though it should have come out in April, when lawn-seeding time begins. I got over the “perfect lawn” syndrome years ago, just because it is a lot of work. Anyway, I agree with the content today, both philosophically and practically. We live in town, but our back yard is a combination pasture-and-garden. It draws in bees, lots of birds, butterflies, etc. The front yard is more clover than grass and looks just as nice.

Calling Dean Martin!

The crowd of hopeful investors stands in front of the “setting sun” band shell as they watch the more interesting action going on in the foreground. It’s one thing to be involved in various scams; but another to actually move on to attempted murder. Or so it seems.  This must be a German EUV because it crashed with a K instead of a C.

This dramatic overreaction almost certainly will lead to an equally animated reaction on the part of the crowd, but not before Trail (and maybe Sharp) rescues Cricket Bro, as needs must. All in all, this is not your father’s (or your own former) Mark Trail, with its simpler, black & white (predominantly white) opponents. This is more like global realpolitik, where your former enemy becomes an ally, or vice-versa.

So, what will the situation be when they pull Cricket Bro out of the wreck? Do Mark and Sharp decide to save him from an angry crowd?

In pursuit!

Rights make strange bedfellows. Sharp and Trail were dangerous rivals early on, and still have a strong distrust for each other. They both want to stop the cricket brothers, but from different motives and with different means. So, Mark finds himself trying to stop Sharp from exposing the two brothers out of concern for his dad’s safety. And here he is, trying to save Sharp from getting run over by Cricket Bro. If the Brothers had any doubts about Mark, they have been resolved.

For some reason, Trail and Sharp decided to exit the DJ platform, rather than stand their ground. And that must be why Cricket Bro chose to pursue the two in his car, his so-called Cricketmobile. It is completely colored from roof to hubcap in a single color, as if it was the Batmobile. Mark’s response lends support to the allusion. Based on the way Rivera normally writes sound effects, I would not be surprised to see “Accelerate!”, rather than the traditional “Vroom!