Some readers might be thinking about now that Mark Trail must be Mary Worth’s nephew, or successor. It seems odd, if not intrusive, that Mark would be all over Rex for being all over Tess. What business is it of Mark’s, anyway? First, let’s review how we got here: Mark was goaded by his editors into an assignment to investigate a dubious roadside zoo in Texas run by Tess Tigress that might be a cult, but might also be abusing tiger cubs. Mark would be working with Rex Scorpius, the famous “Internet” animal wrangler. An alternative assignment meant to sway him was to chase down a rampaging elephant somewhere in the south. Mark chose the roadside zoo story.
After arriving in Texas, Diana Daggers (original bad girl and now part-time sidekick) was there to pick him up. She confessed to Mark that his official assignment was something of a hoax. The real assignment is to help her save a vulnerable Rex Scorpius—her current boss—from the zoo cult and the clutches of its owner, Tess Tigress. The cover assignment is Mark’s investigative story on the zoo. Is Diana Daggers misleading Mark even more because she has personal feelings for Rex? Is she really jealous of Tess? To add even more complexity and drama, the elephant story has merged. And Mark now confesses to Rex that he may be more concerned about Rex’s personal relationship with Tess.
So here we are. It’s a more complex affair that we often see in Mark Trail’s adventures, but even so, this job is really outside of his area of expertise. Mark is not Mary Worth or even Dear Abby. Why isn’t Diana handling the situation? Good question, if I do ask it, myself! She was introduced several stories ago as a tough woman with an aggressive attitude to match. Diana even threatened bodily harm to Mark when they first met! But over the past several stories, her personality has softened, as has her attitude. She is almost a non-entity in this story. But is that also a secret ploy, meant to mislead Tess so she would not be looking for Diana?