This is all getting very creepy. Mark says he is not spying on Rex, but then pretty much shows that he has been spying with his stupid suggestion of a four-way pet call. Is Rivera being sarcastic in panel 4 about making friends, I wonder? I sure hope so. If I was Rex, I’d send Mark packing back to Hicksville. If I read Joseph Nebus correctly in his “Another Blog Meanwhile“, he suggests that Rivera is attempting to emulate a Jack Elrod style of writing through her use of certain words—especially interjections—and putting greater emphasis on exaggerated poses. She is doing that.
Nebus’s hypothesis is that this look-back might be a deliberate appeal to old school Trailheads and might help them appreciate the strip again if they look at it with this idea in mind. It’s a tempting idea.`
I think most Trailheads would agree to the general assessment of the pre-Rivera version of Mark Trail as a person and world caught in a time freeze of the 1950s with often hokey stories, simple morals, and TV-style action. As Nebus rightly says, a lot of readers enjoyed the strip specifically for reasons like these. Certainly, online commenters enjoyed poking fun at the old Mark Trail. As I wrote many months ago, this could be a major reason they dislike Rivera’s version: Because it could appear to be a deliberate parody, a continuous snarking, of Mark Trail (the comic strip), thus usurping their fun. Just a thought. Yet, I do think Rivera’s vision is larger than simply poking fun at a legacy strip and its long-time readers.
I still think Mark is acting very creepy in this story.