I hate to admit it, but this story is really going sideways. Maybe the art, as well. Perhaps Daggers (in panel 3) means she has all of the Herp Hacienda Gang’s transgressions captured on a security video that she can access from her phone and will turn over to the “proper authorities.” Or she put a tracker on the Prius.
Rivera has an aggressive drawing style that I like (though many Trailheads strongly disagree!) ; and it is well done most of the time. But here, it looks like a first-year student in “Cartooning 101” got involved, especially panel 1.
Anatomy is almost completely warped out of proportion, and details, such as Cricket Bro’s hands, are painful to look at. The composition is flat. The “Smack!” effect (including the lettering) is crude and not well-balanced. It kind of reminds me of the low quality work you could see in the old Charlton comic books of the 1960s. Some of you may know what I mean.
Anyway, the drawing gets a little better in panels 2 and 3 (even Diane’s hand looks pretty decent), but the overall effect of the strip is disappointing. Rivera normally does a lot better, though we’ve seen some inconsistencies lately. It makes me wonder whether she is working under deadline pressure or perhaps has an assistant doing some of the work. We know that cartoonists (including Dodd and Elrod) sometimes use assistants for things like lettering, backgrounds, or inking. At an extreme level, the Garfield comic strip is completely drawn and inked by Jim Davis’s assistants (or “ghosts” as they are called in the cartooning industry), though he creates initial sketch ideas and approves the final strips.
So, which is it? I know that Rivera works in an electronic format (as does Dilbert’s Scott Adams), so that could easily allow for cooperative work. But this is just idle guesswork. Most likely, this is all her work and I’m just making shit up.
On a positive note, I applaud Professor Bee Sharp for his ability to so rapidly change back into street clothes, like some actor playing multiple roles in live theater. Granted, all he did was pull off his boxing attire and jump into a workout suit, but that’s still fast work. Now wouldn’t it be nice if Mark ever changed his clothes! I wonder: If you opened Mark Trail’s closet back in Lost Forest, would you see 20 red and black plaid shirts on hangers?