So where are the air bags?

Dang! Even Professor Bee Sharp can’t help pontificating in a crisis. He’s out-Trailing Mark!  And an interesting choice, isn’t it, to have The Professor be the one to extricate Cricket Bro, rather than Mark. This is one of Rivera’s positive mods to the strip, where Mark is not always the singular heroic figure, doing all of the rescuing and hero-type actions on his own. However, Rivera might have done a bit more research on what front-end crashes look like.

Burning Questions

Is this the same fire that started at the lumber mill?! If so, shouldn’t they have seen it over the past several days? The May 9 strip showed what appeared to be firemen working on the fire, so we are given to believe that fire was extinguished. Would Mark and family be so cavalier as to leisurely hang around if it was still a threat?

Speaking of cavalier, the people in panel 1 are certainly dedicated or completely jaded if they can still just stand around after Cricket Bro just raced across the lawn to try and run over two people. Even a fiery crash apparently did nothing to excite them enough to go over and take a look.

Employing one of Rivera’s standard compositions in panel 2, Trail and Sharp look upon the crashed car, but not out of veneration. Instead, it portends a bad omen that Cricket Bro is locked in an electric car. This must mean getting him out is going to be problematic. Problems on top of problems. Not a good day for anybody, except maybe Professor Sharp. Hmm….

The Weekly Recap and Sunday Nature Chat

Joseph Nebus wrote a recent “What’s Going On In Mark Trail” blog which succinctly expresses many things I’ve been wading through the past year about Rivera’s take on the strip. And more. It is worth reading.

I still appreciate Rivera’s desire to add more complexity and storylines to the strip, but it can be hard to keep track of things in the constrained format of a comic strip. It’s calls for longer storylines, though readers (in general) seem to prefer quicker, shorter stories. I don’t mind length, as long as it is done to fill in and move the story. This past week saw Professor Sharp’s exposé of the Crypto/NFT scam broadcast during the outdoor celebration as well as Cricket Bro’s violent reaction, resulting in his attempt to literally run over Trail and Sharp. Instead, he crashed his car into a tree, resulting in a fiery explosion. Though Mark’s first thought is rescuing Cricket Bro, what will Sharp do?

Part of the complexity, as we have seen, is former opponents now acting more or less in concert with Trail, though with different motives and objectives. I think the currently popular portmanteau is “frenemy”. Cricket Bro, Diana Daggers, and Professor Bee Sharp have all opposed Mark, but recently played up to him, though Sharp’s relationship is more ambiguous and conflicted. In short, these are all shades of gray, not simply old-school black and white. Like the difference between “Dragnet” and “NYPD Blue.” Mark’s Dad may be the most complex and mysterious character in the strip, if you think about it. I’m hoping we see new opponents, so this doesn’t turn into a version of Batman fighting a circle of the same six villains.

A good Sunday topic, though it should have come out in April, when lawn-seeding time begins. I got over the “perfect lawn” syndrome years ago, just because it is a lot of work. Anyway, I agree with the content today, both philosophically and practically. We live in town, but our back yard is a combination pasture-and-garden. It draws in bees, lots of birds, butterflies, etc. The front yard is more clover than grass and looks just as nice.

Calling Dean Martin!

The crowd of hopeful investors stands in front of the “setting sun” band shell as they watch the more interesting action going on in the foreground. It’s one thing to be involved in various scams; but another to actually move on to attempted murder. Or so it seems.  This must be a German EUV because it crashed with a K instead of a C.

This dramatic overreaction almost certainly will lead to an equally animated reaction on the part of the crowd, but not before Trail (and maybe Sharp) rescues Cricket Bro, as needs must. All in all, this is not your father’s (or your own former) Mark Trail, with its simpler, black & white (predominantly white) opponents. This is more like global realpolitik, where your former enemy becomes an ally, or vice-versa.

So, what will the situation be when they pull Cricket Bro out of the wreck? Do Mark and Sharp decide to save him from an angry crowd?

In pursuit!

Rights make strange bedfellows. Sharp and Trail were dangerous rivals early on, and still have a strong distrust for each other. They both want to stop the cricket brothers, but from different motives and with different means. So, Mark finds himself trying to stop Sharp from exposing the two brothers out of concern for his dad’s safety. And here he is, trying to save Sharp from getting run over by Cricket Bro. If the Brothers had any doubts about Mark, they have been resolved.

For some reason, Trail and Sharp decided to exit the DJ platform, rather than stand their ground. And that must be why Cricket Bro chose to pursue the two in his car, his so-called Cricketmobile. It is completely colored from roof to hubcap in a single color, as if it was the Batmobile. Mark’s response lends support to the allusion. Based on the way Rivera normally writes sound effects, I would not be surprised to see “Accelerate!”, rather than the traditional “Vroom!

A Two-Fer Post

I’ll save my horrendous day of getting on and off planes all day for another time. But there is a specific national airline this person is not going to use in the future.

So, this is all Sharp has? Mere accusations? I assumed he was going to follow up with actual evidence. Sounds familiar. Mark’s position here is ambiguous, as if he is fine letting the dupes get duped, just as long as Daddy is okay. That’s responsibility with a capital, er, lowercase “r”.

As anybody who has ever gone to a hall featuring electronic dance music or been passed by a car with seriously large speakers and high wattage can attest, the sound is really, really loud. And the bass track is almost always oppressively punishing. How is it, then, that Trail and Sharp can hear what Cricket Bro is saying? As in virtually all fiction and tell-alls, the story sometimes takes precedence over reality.

Rivera spins the vinyl back just a bit for a second listening. And I’m going on vacation!

A bit of a recap today from last week, because we all know people have short attention spans. Actually, this is nothing new in comics. They’ve been doing recaps for a hundred years. For continuity strips, Sunday strips were themselves sometimes recaps of the previous week’s dailies for families who only subscribed to Sunday delivery. Anyway, if you missed my post yesterday, consider yourself caught up.

Announcement: Starting tomorrow, I will be on vacation for four weeks. Chances are I will have to post Tuesday with Wednesday. No big deal. This doubling or even tripling up may be more frequent, owing to my circumstances. Comics Kingdom’s latest marketing ploy makes this more difficult for me, but I’ll do my best to not miss any days.

Here is the Weekly Recap and Sunday Nature Talk

It’s SUNDAY!  In this action-packed week, the Big NFT Show finally began. We haven’t yet seen the main event in progress; rather, we sat through various interactions of Family Trail members. I reckon all of the action this week probably took place within a 30-minute time frame:

  • Mark and Pappy Happy discussed the impending doom when the crowd discovers the scam
  • Mark and Cherry traded quips as Rusty was amazed at the large halfpipe in action
  • Rusty then got gob-smacked by a trio of cute teens hanging out by the halfpipe until he found the courage to start a conversation with them
  • Mark ran into Professor Sharp, who was on his way to reveal the scam-in-progress to the crowd. Mark tried to stop him. Sharp pushed his way into the event DJ’s booth and means to upload his thumb drive for all to hear and see. Can Mark stop him? Should he?

While we all wait for Monday to see what The Professor has to show, let’s look at today’s nature show.

Figured it would be spiders, today. And a web-based title panel is made to order. I used to informally study spiders. Trail is right; they are very helpful to humans, insofar as their pest-eating ability is concerned. In fact, if you find spiders in your house, it usually means there are even less desirable bugs around and the spider(s) is cleaning up for you. So don’t squash them, even if they look scary. Seems our fear of spiders (and snakes) may be an evolutionary holdover, though that is small comfort to people with strong phobias.

Just try to ignore them, unless they are dangling from a thread over your head where you sleep. In that case, you should run like hell, because you are probably a character in a murder mystery novel about to be murdered by a clever fiend who is most likely your uncle, in order to beat you out of your inheritance! Either that or quit wearing mosquito-themed pajamas.

Arachnids for Sunday?

Action builds as Trail decides his unconfirmed fears are more important than exposing the Crypto Bros.  Rivera continues to indulge in Batman TV Sound Effects (Grip! Snatch!). Everybody in the strip seems fixated on full names. What a day. Hey, watch out for that wolf spider (I think)!

Now, why would The Professor expose himself to Trail (as he did yesterday), if he didn’t want to be interrupted? I suppose predetermination wins out once again. And we have another cliffhanger that will only unfold next week. This reminds me of the Rocky & Bullwinkle episodes that always ended with cliff-hanging reminders:

Tune in again next time for ‘Play NiFTy for me’ orSay it Loud! It’s fake and I’m proud!’”

Cue the theme.

All I want is the truth. Just gimme some truth.

What’s with this habit of Mark Trail always using Sharp’s full name? Can’t Mark Trail just call him “Professor Sharp” or even “Sharp”? Does Jules Rivera think we would forget a character that makes an appearance in the strip at least once every two or three months? It’s not as it is what’s-her-face, that uh, reporter, you know, who is Mark Trail’s rival or something, right? How many times has she been in this strip since Jules Rivera took over? Yes, who could forget . . . her?

Anyway, pretty nice panel 4. Very manga-ish.

So, another dramatic moment arrives. Which way will it go? I hardly think Sharp is going to suddenly agree with Mark and just do a fade. So, he’ll attempt (at least) to expose the Bunco Brothers. Will Mark intervene or be smart and rush his family to safety? Will we see Sharp storm the stage in this Saturday’s strip to call a stop and announce he has a revelation?