Hello, sports fans! Wait, if you really are a sports fan, you’re likely watching a game or a multi-hour pre-game program instead of reading this. That’s okay, I can wait a minute.
Right. So what happened this week, you ask? It was a week of basking in the sun of success for Mark, who overcame smoke, fire, and hostile readers to find and disable the power station that was sending dangerous voltage through downed power lines at the mill. Not sure what happened to the fire, itself, though one panel suggested firefighters showed up to contain the blaze. Ultimately, an informal grievance committee of lumber mill workers complained to Mark that the Bogus Brothers were taking advantage of them by stinting on working conditions, fire procedures, and safety. They brushed off worker complaints, while even Pappy Happy could do nothing to help them. This started another fire, this time inside of Mark who grew even more concerned for his dad’s financial and legal welfare. Perhaps they would all feel better if they took a break and read today’s nature chat!
Yes, Mark. Go ahead and humiliate your son, just as you so often get humiliated these days. I notice that you did not mention your own (albeit reluctant) prior participation in a Yeti Hunt. Or was that one undertaken by your retired dad? It does get confusing.
Still, today’s Sunday strip seems like some kind of passive-aggressive putdown of Rusty’s ambition to hunt for the Seaside Spector. Why can’t poor Rusty get to enjoy his adventure without The Parents feeling the need to tell him there is no Santa Claus or Easter Bunny!? He’ll grow up to be cynical and anti-parent all too soon, Mark.
So, is Rivera building the case that Mark Trail suspects Pappy Happy of suffering from early-stage Alzheimer’s, making Mark feel it necessary to butt into his dad’s affairs to protect him? Or maybe Mark thinks his dad is just the gullible type that takes people at their word? Then again, Happy did make a business agreement with those two losers, so he might have a point. Dad deserves to get a little bruised.
In other news, looks like the applause has quieted down, this being the Saturday installment. Mark’s rescue has already passed into local history and legend. Is it time to move on?
Where do we go from here? The Trailverse sometimes works in mysterious ways. Maybe Rusty’s Seaside Specter started the fire to chase people away. That’s a classic “monster” kind of thing to do. And that could be a great way to bring the Trail family together again, for a really special vacation.
I seem to be following in some footsteps of founder Dennis when he sometimes posted multiple strips at one time, probably for a similar reason to mine: I got busy and couldn’t get back in time. Today is therefore a twofer.
It is clear from these two and the prior days that Rivera likes to spread one event across a week’s worth of strips. This week, it is the post-rescue analysis. I’m not sure why these workers stuck around in a work environment they knew to be dangerous, unless their personal situations were bleak. But to develop the plot or at least provide a suitable stage for Mark to exercise one of his virtues, these guys had to be innocent victims of the Burn Brothers’ ineptitude and malfeasance.
But why unload on Mark? Happy Trai had been here before and was happy to leave things as they were, rather than force the issue with the Bunko Brothers. Why? And when did Cherry develop her Brooklyn patois (“…minding these guys’ business…”)? Mark’s closing bromide would have sounded better had he conjugated “run” as a gerund, to match “doing”.
Sigh! It seems as if Rivera is going to pad this post-rescue vignette out for the rest of the week. Today, we have the common TV/movie meme of the tough-looking dude with an aggressive approach forcing Mark on the defensive, only to be gob smacked when the Big Lug suddenly professes his undying gratitude for the rescue. And never mind that they didn’t get out earlier, when it was possible.
So, who is next in the appreciation line? Maybe the beavers. But more likely, the Bro Brothers, but they will probably be more upset over the loss of lumber.
Calling Jerry Mathers! So, I avoided the obvious title for today’s post. Mark misspeaks in panel 2, as beavers go after the utility poles, not the power lines. Beavers do move around, so it’s possible the mill was there first. And with a large surrounding forest, it isn’t that likely the beavers would go after treated utility poles instead of normal tree trunks. But it happens. Would be easy enough to wrap fencing around the base of utility poles in places like this to deter beaver logging.
Turns out my fence idea is hardly new and is used to protect regular trees, as well! (https://www.beaverinstitute.org/management/tree-protection/) I wonder if Mark will recommend that strategy to the Scam Brothers, or will he instead berate them for their animal insensitivity? Mark certainly can get a bit self-righteous and over-the-top.
In today’s episode, everything settles back into normal space-time. As a fire militia has finally shown up to put out the fire, Mark and Cherry revert to their standard husband-and-wife/parent roles. This means Mark also regresses to his normal Clueless Mark persona.
Note that this “clueless” aspect of Mark’s personality generally reflects the “clueless dad” character found in family TV shows of the 90’s and beyond, such as “The Simpsons”, “Married with Children”, “Malcolm in the Middle”, and “Everybody loves Raymond”.
As a point of comparison, Vintage Mark Trail found his contemporary parallel in the “Wise Father Figure” of 1950s TV programs, such as “Father Knows Best”, “Leave it to Beaver”, and “Bonanza”. Of course, Vintage Mark Trail has been endlessly ridiculed for his apparent lack of Quality Time with Rusty. I’ll admit to making grand generalizations here, but I’m just looking for possible ambient influences in Rivera’s changes to Mark Trail, such as what she might have seen on TV while growing up.
So, we finally had our first actual action and adventure episode in the Oregon Vacation story (Don’t blame me for that prose; it was Rivera and her alliteration a few days ago that tempted me). Sure, Rusty’s Seaside Specterhunt looked like it might have been the real deal, but we can’t deny first honors to Mark, can we? Still, I hold out hope Rusty gets his adventure.
This action-packed week saw Mark racing across the smoky, fire-infested grounds of the burning lumber mill to locate the main power supply. Mark shut down the power going to some dangerous downed electric cables that had trapped mill workers (and his dad) from escaping. With Mark surrounded by cheering employees, Cherry made a surprise appearance to hug her hero, as is expected in the Heroic Tradition.
Thus, we got a brief, but noteworthy, Mark Trail Saves the Day adventure, the kind that might have appeared in a vintage Mark Trail story. I think this is also the first solo Mark Trail adventure since Jules Rivera took over. I’m glad to see that Rivera gave Mark that opportunity as well as a win that for once was not obscured by satire, goofiness, or chicanery. Hmm, well it was a bit goofy. Anyway, before you click off, let’s jump to today’s nature chat!
Okay, that’s about a minute. This is one of the best arguments for vegetarianism. Oh, bugger! Shouldn’t Rob Bettencourt have been the one to present this topic? Looks like Mark finally sold out to Cricket Bro, just like Dad! It’s what’s for dinner. I’d gladly pay you Tuesday for a cricket burger today.
Crickets don’t look like hot dogs. Hot dogs look like sausage. Make cricket sausage!
[slightly edited] Turn off the power and all is right with the world, huh? Did somebody/everybody forget there is a big fire all around them? BTW, did anybody call the forest service? Anyway, as we observe Mark hastily run towards the sudden appearance of Cherry, we also unhappily observe the appearance of hastily drawn art today.
Still, at least Mark took the initiative to face danger in order to save the workers (and his Dad). Behold! This means that Mark completed his first solo hero adventure, as far as I can tell, since Rivera took over. Not a big adventure, but an adventure all the same.
Now how did Cherry get to the mill in the first place, as there was no other vehicle at the Bros’ house? It’s a bit far-fetched to believe that the Bozo Brothers went to get her. They’re probably busy trying to figure out a way to blame Mark for the fire.
Panel 1 presents us with the “Heroic Mark in Radiance” aura, paraphrasing a manga reference (I think) to Dragonball Z, something I noted in prior submissions as far back as April 2021. It ties in nicely with various Pokémon references in the strip that one of our readers has pointed out to us from time to time. Given Rivera’s presumed age and avocation, she would certainly have watched these animations while growing up.
How did all of those “trapped” employees wind up in the clearing by the power station in the first place? Did they follow Mark? Perhaps we must assume all of this stuff is located between the downed powerlines and the flurry of flaming foliage. Whatever the answer, Mark regains some of his former hero status points for his unselfish action and accomplishment (especially compared to the Useless Brothers). Finally, take note, readers: We have our first actual adventurein this story. Let’s hope there is more.