So this week saw Mark canoodling with Cherry on their morning exploration of nature. Cherry then efficiently disappeared to take Rusty to a scout meeting she forgot about. Mark quickly tuned into a video meeting with his new assignment editor, Rafael Suave, of “Hot Catch” magazine. I’m glad to see Rivera move beyond Amy Lee, not because of any problem with her, per se, but that Mark is supposed to be an on-call writer for any and all of the magazines of a magazine empire. But Suave’s assignment has had many Trailheads rubbing their collective chin: Researching the origins of, and solutions for, Zebra mussels in our lakes? Really!? Known since the late 1980s, their origins are now well documented, as is how they often spread. There are even known treatments to minimize their impact and spread, though some people think they can be helpful. I also noted that the story assignment—in which Mark is questioned whether he knows about zebra mussels—was diluted by the prior Sunday strip of Mark discussing zebra mussels (see my blog post of August 8, 2021 strip)! This seemed like an editorial slipup that KFS should have caught.
Zebra mussels are not exactly the kind of hard-hitting, state-of-the-art nature/environment issue that I would have expected Rivera to put into Mark’s hands. In an interview (go to https://www.comicskingdom.com/trending/blog/2020/10/07/an-interview-with-jules-rivera) Rivera gave to Comics Kingdom last year, she noted that “Coming up with new storylines isn’t even that hard.” Perhaps she should have tried a bit harder for this story. But, we’ll have to see how it unfolds.
If Rivera continues with her usual strategy, we should also see a parallel mini-story. The last two times it starred Cherry, in order to establish her backstory and character identity. Perhaps this time, Rivera will reveal more about Rusty or Doc. But for now, on to the Sunday nature talk!
Mark clearly has his “I’m really concerned!” face on in today’s strip. It may not be groundbreaking, but it is timely and well drawn. I think Rivera’s style keeps the subject matter entertaining as well as informative. And today’s installment makes the valuable point: Thanks to our reckless and criminal use of oceans and rivers as toilet bowls, we continue to damage sea life, water, and our food. At first, I was thinking (as I do once in a great while), “Why couldn’t Rivera have made this issue the basis for Mark’s assignment?” But then I remembered: Mark is not a scientist. He doesn’t even have a staff of researchers and interviewers. He’s just a nature photojournalist and part-time vigilante.
Finding poachers, animal kidnappers, and two-bit bank robbers are in Mark’s wheelhouse. How could we possibly expect Mark to single-handedly take on criminal or reckless activity in a big corporation (for example) with its army of attorneys ready to bury him in law suits; or security thugs, ready to bury him in a landfill? Poor Mark couldn’t even find anything illegal with Cricket Bro or his corporation; and he had his hands full just trying to evade Professor “Killer” Bee Sharp and his security thug, Diana Daggers, who is now Mark’s newly-assigned collaborator! How is that for two fists of justice?!