In case you were too busy this week, let’s review what you missed: Some time must have passed since a runaway forest fire destroyed the Crypto Event, because the fire appears to be out and investigators are on site. After an interrogation by an officer of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Mark and Happy Trail were not only cleared of wrong doing, but made to feel like chumps, out of touch and underpaid. We also learned that the Crypto Brothers somehow got out of town and escaped to what appeared to be Venice Beach, California. But Cherry wants to top off this splendid vacation with Mark by spending some quality time in a rose garden while Happy spends time with Rusty. Poor Rusty!
This story appears to be in the wrap-up stage, but Rusty’s own adventure is unresolved. Perhaps Happy Trail will team up with him and they will make an exciting discovery. Perhaps they will even have enough time to get the Sunday paper and read the nature chat for today.
It would be hard to dispute the topical relevance of the bald eagle as the subject of the Sunday nature chat. Rivera makes an interesting link with Franklin’s quote and the Eagle’s near extinction. On the other hand, I don’t believe Franklin’s belief influenced pesticide manufacturers or poachers. There are a few matters of grammatical style we could quibble with here, such as the unnecessary use of quotation marks in a speech balloon and the confusion of using the verb “opportunist” in place of the adjective “opportunistic.” Yet; I appreciate Rivera’s position that it is wrong to ascribe human morals to wild animals. As the blue singer Kurt Crandall sings, “Pets ain’t people.” And we keep seeing the consequences of naive people confusing pets and wild animals (such as bison and bears).
Mark and Happy continue to sit side-by-side at some kind of big table, as if they are at a conference. But is this inside or somewhere outside of the house? It’s a strange look. Clearly, the F&W officer is being snarky. Some behind-the-drawing board interrogation has been going on and we’re getting only the summation. Is Mark is too poor to rent an SUV? How could he afford cross-country airline tickets?
Story-wise, the Saturday strip ends in some kind of corny Hallmark Moment, recalling traditional Mark Trail post-adventure reunions. In other words, where is the edginess that the Reboot is supposed to deliver? Is Rivera bowing to traditional expectations or is she mocking them?
Anyway, this kind of special moment normally takes place after a story ends and Mark comes home for a few days. This may not be the conclusion of the adventure, as there are loose ends to resolve. But Rivera likes to weave multiple story threads, so this could be just the end of the Cricket Bro-NFT story arc. We still have the final resolution of The Seaside Specter to process; the Happy Trail-Crypto Bro business relationship to dissolve; and discover whether the Trail family will stick around for an actual vacation.
Is Happy Trail trying to push his cricket bars on the fish and wildlife officer? That’s a rather shabby, but bald, action that could go sideways, or could be laughed at. I reckon this whole thing has worked out like most of Mark’s vacations: anything but.
One other observation: Both on Tuesday and today, we have seen the F&W officer framed in a white outline. Clearly, this is to help ensure we see the background action in each panel as a visualization of the officer’s testimony. It’s a good technique.
As is common in Mark Trail stories, a lot of details fall by the wayside, especially at or near the end of an adventure, and it appears that Rivera has kept up this dubious tradition of her predecessors. And there are several problems today. How is it that the game warden knows to refer to the brothers as the “Crypto Brothers”? Why does Happy Trail think Mark is also a good friend of the Crypto Brothers? How is it that Happy Trail does not understand why they would cut out without letting him know? And did the Crypto Brothers perform with Kiss?
I wonder whether Mark or Cherry ever got the business relationship between Happy Trail and those two grifters severed. Seems they were too busy doing other things, as far as I have seen. It would have been simpler and more effective to have hired a lawyer to take care of things; but then, there would hardly be this story to tell. The story is not yet over, but it does present an interesting situation where Mark is not always successful. In fact, Mark attempted to sabotage the only real effort (by somebody else) to put a stop to the Crypto Brothers’ scheme. Can Mark overcome these issues and finish up in the black?
More mattress-stuffing, as even Happy Trail acts stupefied to hear the news. And why is Mark excited, having written and talked about beavers as firefighters in the past? It’s too bad that only the two Trails are here, leaving the warden to have to repeat this information to everybody else. No, wait. Mark will want that pleasure, I think. So, where is everybody else?
Maybe the Bunco Brothers are down by the river snapping photos of beavers for a new series of NFTs.
I realize I am on vacation, but did I miss a day? Are they talking about the recent fire or the lumber mill fire? We’ve already been over why this had to be a new fire and not a continuation of the lumber mill fire. So why is Mark all up in arms, literally, about his father? He didn’t seem too concerned about his father during the event fire! And why does Dad need help talking to a game officer? Is he now senile?
After watching the 60 minutes episode last night on petty bureaucratic problems with deploying the Chinook helicopter as a fight fighting tool in California, maybe that state should just let a lot more goats and beavers loose in its forests, like they do up in Oregon! And the US Forestry Service can replace its pointless bear icon with Smokey the Beaver, an animal that has an actual positive role in firefighting.
In case you missed this week, lots of stuff caught fire! Cricket Bro’s car caught fire after it hit a tree, so Mark and Professor Sharp wound up saving him. Not sure Sharp would have done that on his own. Another forest fire appeared and started burning up the event site. Panic ensued. Cherry and Mark found each other and started looking for Rusty, who was still at the halfpipe when it inconveniently fell apart…on Rusty. While trapped, he saw The Seaside Specter staring down at him. Real or hallucination? Not sure, because it was Mark and Cherry who found him. Maybe. We only saw the aftermath of the rescue, so it remains to be said by Rusty who it was who pulled him out from under the halfpipe ruin. Meanwhile, we are not sure what happened to Happy, or even Cricket Bro’s brother. Finally, it seems Sharp’s attempt to stop the scam failed, as Rivera noted that the Brothers somehow sold lots of monkey NFTs. It’s enough to make you want to stay on this Sunday’s strip for a while longer. Keep your hands in your pockets as you read the Sunday strip!
An interesting take on the goat: not the usual overview, but a case of ‘applied goatness’, I reckon. The West Coast is going to need a hell of a lot of goats to make a significant contribution to minimizing forest fires. Still, it’s a pretty clever idea. But will they be left on their own in the forests? Will they “go native” or become feral, wild goats?
Greatest “what” of all time? I’m not sure, but it’s something to chew on.
We finish out the week with The Seaside Specter once again mysteriously disappearing, as Rusty is located and rescued by Mom and Dad. Ho-hum. No concerns about Happy Trail’s safety, it seems. I’m truly glad that, surrounded by a raging forest fire burning everything around then and sending people running in all directions, the Trail Family can find the time to stand around for group hugs. Maybe Happy shows up to get them outta there.
Rivera informs us that Professor Bee Sharp’s warning about the Scam Brothers went unnoticed, as they somehow still raked in the cash with their Monkey NFT Event. Good does not always triumph.
So, we’re at a junction in the storyline. Do we continue with the fire story arc? Do we follow Mark Trail Tradition and jump ahead to the next day? Or go with the venerable “we temporarily interrupt this story to set up the next adventure” direction? I reckon we’ll find out Monday!
This may sound self-serving and phony, but I actually did consider mentioning the Seaside Specter yesterday as a possible candidate to rescue Rusty, but more as a throwaway joke than a serious prediction. I went with Kelly, instead. But who is playing the Seaside Specter? I’m thinking it’s The Professor. My luck, it will be Happy Trail.
The larger concern here is that Rusty’s Adventure has dribbled out here and there. You see it and you’re not sure if Rusty is just filling in a few panels for Mark, or if Rivera is turning from Mark to give Rusty his due. Allen certainly gave Rusty co-star billing in the Mexican Smuggling Caper a few years ago. I think this iteration of Rusty might be a tad younger than his predecessor, which might explain the difference. On the other hand, Rivera has plausibly linked Rusty’s cryptid hobby into the Oregon Vacation story.
You sharp-eyed readers surely noticed that Rivera spelled “Crash” with a “C” today, not a “K”, which supports my flimsy hypothesis that her exploding EUV is probably a German car. Not that it really matters, but how else to explain “Krash” and “Krack” (for the EUV’s windshield)?
Moving on, forest fires are known to sometimes move very fast, so I reckon we can’t dismiss the speed with which this event site is now aflame. I’d criticize Rusty’s choice of a safe place (the wooden halfpipe), but he is just a kid. And just maybe that sheet of wood prematurely falling on Rusty really is heavier than it looks. Just another example of the slipshod work that the Crypto Brothers demand.
But we ask, who will come to his rescue? Mark already performed one fire-based rescue. What about the three girls? It’s doubtful; they were older and probably had the good sense to run in the opposite direction of the fire. I think it comes down to Pappy Happy. He’s the only one not accounted for, unless we discover that Kelly Welly is also working this gig.