(Added some edits to correct grammar and clarity)
This past week continued Mark’s video conference (started the prior week) with Bill Ellis and Rafael Suave, Editor of the fishing rag “Hot Catch.” The hot assignment is an investigation of zebra mussels, which, for the laid back and smug Rafael means getting the goods on some big-time, evil companies that are exploiting the mussels’ spread for some nefarious purpose.
As commenters have noted, the only practical reason a company would do this is to help sell their own zebra mussel eradication solution. I suppose it would be a quite the coincidence if one of the companies turned out to be owned by Cricket Bro, given that Diana Daggers has somehow also wormed her way into this assignment as a videographer. That fact has naturally given Mark conniptions, based on his prior association that Rafael may or may not have known about. I’m guessing he did.
As Amy Lee did, Rafael patronizes Mark and goads him into taking the assignment. Mark is left to ponder his fate and consult his moral avatar, Ralph the Snake. Since Ralph is a stand-in for Mark’s conscience (filling in for both the “good” and “bad” avatars that pop up on characters’ shoulders in various cartoons and movies), it is no surprise to Mark when Ralph points out that Mark is no less a potential danger to himself than is Diana. DOH!
The former Mark Trail would never need to get in touch with a “Ralph” because the former Mark Trail did not have moral/ethical dilemmas; at least, none that were expressed. The former Mark was always steadfast, focused, morally grounded, emotionally conservative, and liked shirts with two pockets. And that is okay for a leading character. That is, after all, the genetic makeup of virtually all heroic types in American films, books, and comics for most of the 20th century. That may be one reason why so many readers prefer the former Mark Trail, in the face of the current trend of heroic figures that expose warts, self-doubt, questionable ethics, and excessive vigilantism.
And with that, we move to Sunday’s nature talk.
As is expected, Rivera continues to create the title panel based on the Sunday topic. It is not a surprising solution, though showing the bees moving out of a hive to form the title might have added a bit of humor. Rivera’s exposition on “killer bees” plays down their lethal effect on humans, which is fine, though they can still be very harmful and painful. In fact, their real danger lies in the fact that they can attack in large swarms. I read that repellents, such as DEET, have no effect on them. So, take Mark’s advice to heart.
I noticed that Rivera avoids using the commonly preferred name, “Africanized honey bee”, unless she is suggesting (by its absence) that the term “Africanized” is pejorative. That could be why she uses the terms “European” and “Hybridized” as descriptive labels. Interestingly, the hybridization of the African honey bee with European honey bees took place in Brazil back in the 1950s, and their distribution seems to be confined to the Americas. Since this particular species was created in Brazil, maybe we should just call it the “Brazilian killer bee” and go with that, though “Americanized killer bee” is fine, too. “Hybridized honey bee” is really not descriptive, but does sound like something a corporation would come up with, to distract from their harmful effects on other bees and people.