I think a second week of Cherry’s story would have been better, but we did leave Mark in mid-punch, getting hammered by Killer Bee. We return to the action and its follow-up, which amounts to Mark still standing after that right jab and vowing to unleash the much talked-about “Two Fists of Justice!” Of course, it might be wise for Mark to put on some boxing gloves in order to minimize the chance of breaking a knuckle. But will Cricket Bro foil Mark’s justice and stop the fight before Trail returns the compliment to Killer Bee?
Artistically, I know people will complain (as they already have) about the sometimes spindly anatomy of various figures, whether it be Dirk’s legs or Mark’s body in panel 2. But it seems to be a stylistic feature of the strip in general, and here, it is used to effectively differentiate Mark’s appearance from Killer Bee’s partially-visible strongman physique. By the way, this feature was not apparent in Professor Bee’s initial introduction, where he looked a lot slimmer, more like a dancer. But he was wearing a full-length coat or duster. I suppose ‘clothes make the man’? Anyway, this difference helps set up a dramatic question of whether a person of slight build can overcome a person with a more aggressive and strong appearance. In the old days of this adventure strip, the outcome of this fight would be obvious. With Rivera, the outcome seems less certain.
Perhaps that sense of uncertainty we have seen in Mark’s character is a deliberate ploy created by Rivera, so that when Mark does send Bee to the mat, it will be a greater surprise to the onlookers and a more pleasing dramatic turn of events. This reminds me of watching a Popeye cartoon, where the much bigger Bluto always pounds Popeye mercilessly until he can consume his magical spinach and gain the strength of ten men. Then Popeye wipes the floor with Bluto and wins the day. But we’ll have to wait until Tuesday to see what happens next.
Now, Rivera has a good sense of design, and panel 1 is a good example. First, there is a similarity in angle of the two figures, which aids in the aggressiveness and movement from left to right. The curved bee antenna is mirrored in the curvature of the “stars” of Mark’s face as he gets punched. Nice touch! The funnel-shape above Mark’s head, which I suppose represents part of the effect of Mark’s head getting walloped, is mirrored by the triangular shape of Mark’s torso, as it falls to the right.
Anyway, in spite of my academic noodling above, I think we are all ready for some good old-fashioned Mark Trail Payback at this point. And it’s about time we see Mark return to his “man of action” roots! There’s been enough of Mark The Clueless Wimp.