You can wake up now, the week is over. As far as the current story arc goes, Mark left the retreat with Bunny, er, Honey, . . . no, Holly (?) to investigate her plea to help her friends hurt by a collapsed trail. Mark arrived to find Rob and Sharp lying injured at the bottom of a steep hill. Instead of smiling with the feeling of justice done, and returning to his job, Mark’s good side decided to rescue them, instead. Presto! Shazam! Mark made a dog-cart pulled by faithful Andy suddenly appear to assist him. Clearly, there was an unspecified time delay. Somehow (how, Rivera does not show us) Mark was able to either get the cart and Andy down the hill or get the two boobs up, whereupon they all returned to safety, with Bee Sharp in the cart and Rob helped back by Jadsen. Of course, the two casualties complained and whined along the way. So typical.
As I noted before, this otherwise nonessential side story could have been presented in a more dramatic fashion, but I reckon Rivera decided that actual drama was out of place in a strip based more on eccentricities and parodies (or was that satire?). Parody and goofy characters have pretty much been Rivera’s approach since she started. I’m not against that in general, but I think this strip would be better if she intertwined some real drama here and there into the stories. The two elements can work together. Isn’t that we mean by a dramedy? For example, the movies In Bruges, The Wizard of Oz, and early Jackie Chan movies; Buffy the Vampire Slayer on TV; and Tintin in comics. So, it can be done.
I like the idea of the butterflies spelling out “Mark Trail” more than the execution, which looks more like fall leaves. Yet, this is a good, positive Sunday strip showing that sometimes, things do get better. By that, I mean the monarch butterfly population.
Rivera saved some drawing time, as cartoonists will try to do, by taking a few butterfly images and replicating them to create the swarms. Unfortunately, she included a heavy outline in the replicated images (e.g., panel 2), which foils their natural light appearance.
Wondering how the massively increased count would lead to an extinction classification? The count is of the smaller western population, which used to be 10 million. The eastern is larger, but falling fast.
I’m no lepidopterist, but from what I can fathom, even though there is a modest increase, the overall decrease (over the decades) has been dramatic. I did read that the eastern monarchs have a more modest growth, but are still in bad shape and on the list for endangered status: