Home » LA Confidential » You had me then you lost me

You had me then you lost me

Well, I should have glommed on to Daggers’ shades the other day. I mean, who the hell drives at night with sun glasses, anyway!? But, I cannot fathom that Rivera would actually resort to this silly escape trope. “Unbelievable” is right. And I don’t think that the roadrunner is much of a distraction. But, really now. I’ve enjoyed most of the weird story twists and the outrageous characters. But, I bit my tongue at the inept laptop heist; I waited patiently to find out what the hell Cricket Bro’s game plan was; and I sat through another ridiculous video production that never got off the ground. Throughout this story, we experienced one dead-end plot device after another. There’s enough loose strings here to overhaul a tennis racquet.

Meanwhile “Mad Dog” Daggers blathers on about her car dash-cam recording the chase, which is supposed to “catch Mark Trail in the act of his little high-tech heist.” All it will show is a chase, of course. I mean, the heist is already done, so there is no “gonna catch” to do. If they don’t already have a recording of the laptop room and the escape in the hallway, they have bupkis. And is that what this whole charade at the Cricket Bro office was about?

I see no reason to spend much time pointing out all of the obvious holes and weaknesses in today’s installment. I will say this:  Diana’s losing Mark would be more believable if Professor Bee was not also in the chase car. This is like one of those jokes from the 1980 “Police Squad” TV series with Leslie Nielson. Except Mark Trail is not a sitcom, I think. (By the way, if you have not seen Police Squad, go out of your way to watch it. Try your public library. It’s far funnier than the movies they later made.)

As I have noted several times, I give a lot of credit to Rivera for taking chances and investing the characters in more complex and sometimes outrageous stories. There is, indeed, humor to go around, but normally the kind that Rivera deliberately constructs. Unless, of course, this current sequence with Mark is meant to be some kind of parody, perhaps of movie car chases? Are we to take this “escape in the dark” as a serious plot device or a symbol of the absurd? Are we supposed to laugh in a smug, cynical way at the ineptness of Bee Sharp and Diana Daggers for losing a car that was not more than 10 yards in front of them? Or do we chuckle at a satirical take on car chases?

It may very well be that Rivera has revised a serious adventure strip filled with serious protagonists and melodramatic villains into a satirical adventure strip, filled with protagonists who bumble and stumble their way to victory (like Inspector Clouseau) against nefarious, if comical, villains. I’m okay with that. But please, Jules, let’s at least have some reasonable guidelines in the stories.

And, to think:  We leave Mark’s story suspended for a week while we return to the continuing adventure of Cherry Trail: One Woman’s Fight for Botanical Justice.

Now, somebody please tell me what that white bit of something is, coming out from under the chase car in panel 4. Doesn’t look like a rock or even a deployed airbag, losing its air. Perhaps it’s the roadrunner zipping under the car.


2 thoughts on “You had me then you lost me

  1. I can rationalize how Mark Trail et al would have lost Bee Sharp with this maneuver, if they came to a point where the roads suddenly turned and split off and got confusing. Which maybe that’s what they did, but the choice of panels doesn’t make that easy to see. I’m not sure how I’d arrange it to make that clearer, though, at least not without slowing down the action. Maybe an overhead shot of Mark’s car coming to a three-way fork in the road?

    • Agreed! An overhead shot would have helped clarify the action here. And this quick fade trick would be even more believable if the turn was “downhill” or a switchback. I wonder if Reptilionnaire turned off the lights BEFORE making the turn. As you say, Rivera does not have a lot of space to put in the details, but I think she could have trimmed some earlier panels of unnecessary blather to give her some room. Anyway, it’s a good topic for discussion: How to maximize information in as few panels as possible and keep the pace going.

      More captions would help, and Rivera has used captions effectively in the past. But strangely, less so now. Personally, I think having Diana spin out of control on a tight turn would provide a much more realistic solution, especially given Bee Sharp’s concerns over her rage-fueled driving.

      Thanks for the thoughts, Joseph.

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