“Mark, you watch the boat and pretend to fish. I’ll take care of the rest.”

So, another fishing boat finally appears. I reckon that cargo ships make good fishing spots. Why, I see fishing boats all the time, hanging around the container ships in Duluth Harbor.

Not really.

Okay, so we finally learn a bit more about this assignment, such as that Diana is clearly far ahead of Mark with regard to background information on this assignment.  Diana dribbles out the details to Mark as if were “need to know” covert information. And perhaps we’ll eventually discover that the issue is not zebra mussels in general, but zebra mussel infestation in this unnamed body of water, somewhere near Lost Forest.

But try as I might, I cannot resist:  It’s one thing to fashion the new Mark Trail as a less idealized naturalist hero who has doubts, whose hair is no longer immaculate, and talks to animals. But it’s another thing, entirely, to make Mark appear ignorant, stupid, and incompetent.

  1. Mark seems curious that mussels (like other mollusks) could attach themselves to ship hulls. Then again, The USGS web site reports that mussels are commonly spready when ships dump ballast water .
  2. Why does Mark only now realize one of them has to go underwater to get photographs?
  3. And why doesn’t Mark realize it is Diana who is going underwater, not him? After all, she is the one wearing a bathing suit and carrying a (presumably waterproof) camera.

Mark really is becoming the second-banana in this story, the loose change in your pocket you don’t mind losing. His job is apparently to be the main distraction, while Diana does the real work.

The only thing that can save this wreck as a Mark Trail story is for Diana to get trapped or captured, requiring Mark to don his hero costume and come to her rescue. Or something along those lines.

Well, may Jules will rename the strip to Mark Trevail.