Poor Mark, isolated and alone, after abandoning Diana Daggers, with a long walk ahead of him. And who is this “old friend” of Mark’s? Mark Trail has a history of characters that drop in and out of the strip, sometimes with years or decades in between appearances. This might be another one. Now, I cannot say that I’ve been following Mark Trail for many decades, though I’ve read the strip on and off over the years. Again, it’s too bad that nobody has thought to reprint the Mark Trail strips as has been done for many other comic strips.
Could this be Cliff McQueen, the “former” forest ranger who was once engaged to Cherry Davis before Mark finally won her over? I tried to find an old strip showing him, but nothing turned up in my searches. If somebody has a copy of his portrayal from back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, let me know. However, I suppose it doesn’t really matter all that much, now. But it does make you wonder if they are real friends. Seems that Cliff is now a “firefighter”; and his relationship with the boat “De-Bait Team” is part of his identity.
Today we do not see Diana or Mark’s boat. Perhaps Diana cut and run; or cartoonist Rivera simply focused on the current situation, leaving Diana off to the side for the time being. But it is a nice, if subtle, bit of drama, whether she is there or has left.
Of course, “De-Bait Team” is the boat that followed Mark and Cherry and was “hosed” by the cargo ship as it stayed behind to aid in Mark and Diana’s “dramatic” escape. It appears that neither the boat nor its crew suffered any lasting damage. In fact, it looks like Cliff didn’t even get wet! I reckon that they must have locked themselves in the bridge and simply moved away. Go figure! This doesn’t absolve Mark’s indecisiveness, of course, though it might help settle his current anxieties. Still, Cliff makes a point of mentioning his selfless act as he greets Mark. This should make an interesting conversation, once Mark has moved past his belated recognition of an old friend.