One of the innovations that Jules Rivera injects into Mark Trail is how she uses narration. Unlike the prior incarnation of the strip, the current strip uses narration boxes more frequently to provide context. Narration boxes have also been used to contain “flashback recollections” (see May 11).
However, what is most innovative is Mark interacting with the narration (see also May 12), as if there is a live speaker on site. This is a new trope to the strip; at least I did not find any occurrence in Rivera’s first story, where narration boxes were quite rare. Maybe this interaction is an alternative to Mark talking things out with animals, which was a feature in the Happy Trails story. I am guessing that Rivera is working out how much irreverence she can get away with while maintaining an otherwise serious adventure strip. No doubt, this approach pisses off more purist Trailheads who know that the original Mark Trail rarely joked when on assignment. Or off.
But one thing I’m stuck on: We all note the use of the derisive “Markey” in that first narration box, whereas he is given his normal name “Mark” in the second box (panel 4). Is there a significance to this usage? I dunno! Anybody got an idea?
Now we find Mark already in the ring…without boxing gloves. How did that happen, especially as he doesn’t seem too happy to participate? Certainly, Killer Bee (aka Professor Bee Sharp) takes it seriously. He is suited up, if you consider wearing fake bee antennae is part of being properly suited up for boxing. Still, even if Bee was some kind of college boxing champ, he is too much the narcissist to worry about the Marques of Queensbury rules. I hope that right jab to Mark’s face doesn’t put him down for the count, since he needs to keep these reckless bozos preoccupied for an entire 30 minutes.
Still, a 30-minute fight?! I don’t think so! Mark has fighting in his blood, as we know, so I expect he’ll connect fist to face and drop Killer Bee before long. Or Cricket Bro will interrupt.
Now, where is Cricket Bro? I figured he would at least be the referee, with Daggers acting the “ring girl”, parading her signs between rounds. And where are those cameras to record this commercial, by the way?