“When danger reared its ugly head, he bravely turned his tail and fled.”

Okay, sometimes it’s really hard to not throw in with the snarkers. This is silly on so many fronts that it could take a page to get through. The fishing boats are just a nuisance. But maybe the ship’s crew were bored enough to make engaging their anti-pirate boarding system worth the time and effort for a good laugh. Still, this scene of “defense, sacrifice, and escape” just doesn’t live up to its moralistic aims.

  • Why did the other boat need to stay behind when they could have both just moved away? It’s not as if a cargo ship can turn on a dime and chase them.
  • Why are the two crew members of that other boat just standing around in panel 3 instead of trying to get away?
  • Exactly why are Mark and Diana worried? Nobody’s shooting at them.
  • When did Mark ever run away from danger? Oh, right. This is the less idealized Mark, who reacts to danger like many of us.
  • And what is Diana even doing in panel 4? Where did her bravado go?
  • So, was that boat’s “screening sacrifice” really an act of courage or just an act?

I mean, c’mon! Neither boat was in any real danger, except from the undertow of the cargo ship, itself. Those fire hose defense systems aren’t designed to pursue pirate ships moving away from the ship. However, perhaps Rivera thought it would make an exciting action scene to have fire hoses waving all around and spraying water everywhere. But the result reminds me more of the robot on the TV show, Lost in Space, which would ineffectually wave its arms whenever it sensed danger. On the other hand, I would feel very insulted if this entire sequence of “dangerous mission”, furtive pursuit, dangerous reprisals, and unknown sacrifice was all just some kind of parody. I’d be much happier if this were just Rivera’s attempts to construct a classic adventure story.

She has not had the opportunity to do so, until now. The first story was for introductions and more of a social commentary on the Mark Trail tradition of the idealized hero as much as it was a nod to environmentalism. The second adventure was less “adventure” and more mad-cap lunacy in a state (other than Florida) known for its quirky characters. So we are now into Mark’s third story, which is cast in a more traditional format of a Mark Trail adventure; only the premise is shaky (illicit zebra mussel importing). It’s still early in the story, though. But for all of you die-hard Trailheads who think this is not as good as the pre-Rivera Mark Trail stories, think back to the Bat Cave and the Hawaiian Island stories. Even the Himalayan Sasquatch adventure. These were all stories that mostly had no point to them, solved nothing, and suffered ridiculous escapades.