When we last left Mark Trail, it wasn’t like this!

As Quick Draw McGraw used to exclaim during a crisis, “Now hold on there!” What do we have here, if not some kind of chronological and textual revisionism? This is one reason why more time should be spent on each of the two story lines, before switching between them. If we go back a week, we should recall that the Herp Hacienda Heisters had taken the laptop and set off a security alarm. They were intercepted in a hall by Cricket Bro, only to have himself intercepted and restrained by Mark. By the magic of The Cartoon Universe, Aparna suddenly uploaded her app to the Internet before handing the laptop back to Cricket Bro. Mark and his two companions then ran out of the building while Professor Bee and Diana Daggers consulted some kind of tracking program as a substitute for physically chasing them down. Or so it seemed, based on the actual published strips.

However, today’s strip must be a parallel universe redo that altered the time and sequence of events. Mark seems to have forgotten that hallway scene with Cricket Bro. And Mark’s exclamation of potential failure in panel 4 seems to suggest he wasn’t paying attention as Aparna uploaded her app while berating Cricket Bro, who was still being held by Mark! So, where the hell was Mark’s mind during all this? Was he still thinking that he should get back and thrash Killer Bee some more?

And why do we see rats in panel 1 gnawing on what appear to be network patch cables? Is this supposed to create a spark that starts a fire and totally engulfs the building in flames? Does this mean that a fleeing Mark Trail will spot the fire and force the gang to turn around and run back into the building to save whoever manages to get stuck inside before they are potentially asphyxiated or turned into charcoal briquettes? Maybe these cables link to the building’s security system? Mystery abounds!

The art seems a bit uneven. The first panel appears to depict our protagonists as stick figures in clothes, whereas the other three panels are filled with more conventionally decent Rivera drawing. Lest anybody be unsure, I generally like her drawing. However, I am not so comfortable with the first panel. I have proposed a theory in the past that suggested certain elongations or distortions might be deliberate stylistic choices to represent high energy, action, speed, or other dramatic events. And in truth, it is only Mark—who is running—who looks rather stick-like. But I may be reading too much into this. That comes from my unfortunate academic background, I think.

Anyway, I’m okay with a bit of a recap, but not if it is going to alter the chronology and events.