Well, Juliet it beith not; yet doth the plot turn. And here, I was thinking Reptilionnaire might be in cahoots with Cricket Bro, or just a sidebar to the ever-changing focus of this story. Not only did Cricket Bro (aka Rob Bettancourt, the childhood frenemy of Mark, who just happens to be involved in this whole cricket protein racket) take advantage of Mark, but so has Rep. Like an old Mark Trail storyline, Rivera has already throwing several red herrings at us, with abrupt transitions and missing scenes (the unseen video shoot, itself; whether Mark took that card from Cricket Bro; whether Mark ever retrieved his smart phone, etc.).
Mark’s natural curiosity gets the better of him and he stumbles onto this secret meeting. As a spy, Mark is not exactly Mr. Subtle with his eavesdropping, is he? But maybe he can’t hear what is going on. A window you can open might work better, Mark!
Like Alice in her Wonderland, Mark has been bouncing between oddball situations, really out of his element, and trying to cope. But let’s give Mark some credit, even though it took some sleepy-time tea and a 7 PM bedtime suggestion to awaken Mark’s investigative juices. We can read Mark’s growing suspicions by his pointed expression in panel two.
Everybody else seems to have an alter-ego/avatar; so It’s time for Mark Trail, Conspiracy Cracker to make his appearance on the stage and figure out whatever the hell is going on in this land of kooks and solve whatever it is that needs solving. But what do you think it is?
- A PETA underground group that thinks Cricket Bro is doing harm to insects and is out to destroy him?
- A company of industrial spies intent upon industrial sabotage?
- A gang of crooks who cooked up the “Reptilionnaire” scam just to get close to Bettancourt and rob his house?
- Something completely different?
Personally, I like the third choice the best. It has the most going for it as a story line. And it gives Mark the opportunity of spoiling the conspiracy (here come the Two Fists of Justice!) and forcing Cricket Bro to ultimately eat crow and beg Mark’s forgiveness for his transgressions against Markey. Though Mark has not taken any photos (once again), he still has a sure-fire winner of a story to sell…maybe to one of the other magazines in the F.E. & Cook holding company, besides Teen Sparkle!