The week before this saw a six-day run of strips focusing on Cherry’s unsuccessful but violent encounter with Violet Cheshire of the Sunny Soleil Society. This week’s strips have focused on Mark’s return to the Herp Hacienda and his furtive encounter with the angry and frustrated Herp House staff who have been victimized by Mark’s childhood nemesis, Rob Bettancourt, aka Cricket Bro.
Whereas the Sunny Soleil meeting had a growing back-and-forth tension, enhanced by the back-and-forth dialog and and changing angles of Cherry and Violet; the HH gang’s meeting has been whiny and rather dull. One might criticize Rivera for the lack of drama, but I believe this was a deliberate choice, as was the juxtaposition of the two meetings.
- First, we have two women whose minds and decisions had already been set before the meeting started, pushing and probing each other to see how far they could go. But only one seems to be holding all the cards.
- Second, we have the naïve Herp Hacienda Gang, rudderless in a sea of righteous anger. But anger turns into frustration as they are over their heads, trying to figure out what to do. The sedate campfire setting seems to dilute the group’s anger. But this frustration also sets the stage for Mark’s involvement. Finally, Mark decides to intervene, much to the surprise and annoyance of the gang (we note how Reptile Man ironically speaks to Mark as if he is the child).
In this way, the two separate storylines converge: Cherry, having lost the first battle, makes a tactical retreat to regroup and formulate a new plan of attack, while Doc looks befuddled. Reptile Man has also retreated to the Hacienda to regroup with his comrades. But Mark, finding his focus at last, comes in to take charge (as that is what he usually does, right!?) and help this group, while getting a crack at Cricket Bro to stop his obviously illegal, unethical activities. At last, Mark Trail has a villain to defeat! And we have to believe Cherry will come up a plan to overwhelm and overcome her nemesis, jiu-jitsu master, Violet Cheshire. Hmmm….I wonder if they will complete their quests at the same time?
But first, dear readers, time for the Sunday Nature Talk. Bonus points if you guessed the topic.
Okay, I was surprised, as well! I believe we last (or first) saw an owl in the April 6 strip, as Mark was landing at LAX. And, if I may say so, I correctly identified (i.e. guessed) it as a Burrowing Owl then (thank you, thank you). Rivera has certainly gotten better drawing owls.
And in keeping with her tradition, Rivera has once again cleverly interpreted the “Mark Trail” title to match the day’s theme. This time, it is an elaborate underground burrow. Great job!