Hell freezes over… Which reminds me of this great story…
But seriously. Is this a first? Rusty actually FISHING? Surely no greater tonic exists in the Trail-verse for a broken heart caused by having to release your beloved animal friend back into the wild…
Careful, now, gentlemen. Canoes are tippy… in fact, the center of gravity is so high in panel one Mark and Rusty might as well join the circus… Ever heard of kneeling down? But then this is a magical moment, why shouldn’t the laws of physics go unheeded?
Yes, let’s skin the and gut the little creatures while they are still gasping their last… Yummy!
The writers of this strip must really hate Rusty… I mean, we could have spent more than two days witnessing the downfall of Big Mike, maybe even have Big Mike return a punch or something… but now we are on day what (?) of watching Rusty realize that he can’t keep the otter and now saying good-bye??? And “I love you???” Yikes, this is painful.
He sure is keeping the brave face going, isn’t he? Oscar’s not looking all that happy to be “home,” though. Like I said before, he is still on the teat, and well, that‘s going to make things a little hard on him as he walks and swims and frolics his way to starvation… “Take care of yourself,” “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” “Don’t take any wooden nickels,” “Watch where you step,” “Don’t forget to write…”
Poor Rusty… pouring out his soul over the imminent release of Oscar the baby Otter… and Mark is as obtuse and uncaring as ever. Did he even hear the lad? “Mark I am very sad right now…” “Huh? Did you say something Rusty? Just keep paddling.” And why do they have to paddle to the drop zone when in every other scene of the story they could drive themselves to the stream? To make the long good-bye even longer and the separation more painful, apparently. Oh, Mark, you are indeed the cruel one!
And…. TIME! We started this little story arc on June 4th and here it is august 9th. A little over two months and Mark was barely gone from Lost Forest, just enough time to “do a little hunting” and get stuffed in the meat Locker… No doubt the next story will have him separated from the clan he finds so unfulfilling… Editor Bill Ellis- Where are you???
“Getting that member of the varmint family out of my house can’t happen soon enough, in my opinion…” Doc wants to say but is sensitive to the lad’s feelings… He also wants to say that “Because Oscar has yet to be WEENED, his chances of survival are slim and none… unless he connects with a wet-nurse Otter, but no matter, we can’t afford another mouth to feed around here, even a small one, what with that mooching son-in-law and his adopted progeny about…”
Even with Rusty’s tortured past, he doesn’t appear to be haunted by separation issues… And Cherry, such a sensible plaid wrap skirt you have on… are you going off to your school teacher job later?
That last panel deserves to be turned into a framed print or at least a t-shirt… Undying and everlasting hope springing eternal in a young man’s heart… almost brings a tear to the eye…
Mark, there is a special place in Hell for people like you who lead others on, make promises and then don’t follow through, especially when the targets are overly trusting, impressionable youths… You are no more going to take Rusty fishing than you are going to pleasure Cherry in any meaningful way… you are a cad, a psychological manipulator who by dint of his self-perceived charm and good looks can string people along indefinitely…
“And Gee, Mark… with all that’s happened, and even with the tingle I feel running up my leg, I really can’t stay here with you on this dreamy shoreline watching the sun set and trout feed off a fly hatch… I really have to get back to the office and earn a living. Unlike you, I have rent to make and my dead-tree newspaper job is hanging by a thread…” This is so twisted I can barely summon the remarks I want to make… or maybe this just speaks for itself.
But gosh look how content Rusty’s face is as he cradles and nurses Oscar… Andy looks on approvingly…
Read the Curmudgeon’s take on this:
The cruelty of Nature is well documented, but the cruelty of Mark Trail, Man of Nature, retains its power to shock. Blissed-out Rusty nurses his otter and dreams of fishing, but mere days from now he will have neither otter, nor fishing, nor any last shred of hope. Mark just twists the knife, while Andy’s mind is all on dinner. Say — maybe they’ll have fish!
Wanted in several states for POACHING? Maybe even MURDER? And yet there he was dug in and operating with impunity at his “hunting lodge.” Listen here kids: a life of wrong-doing will only lead to, well, cigars, whiskey, a huge closet of colorful flannel shirts, and oh, yeah, retirement to the BIG HOUSE! I still say that there is another, more sure-fire way to put him away… I mean where are the agents from Treasury? Where’s the IRS?
So, with Sergeant York of the Aryan Brotherhood on the scene (c’mon, really?) and with Mark draping him arm around his newest, bestest “friend,” Frankie and Big Mike are no longer “in business.” I hope Mark doesn’t invite Ol’ Jason (oops, did I really just say that??) back to Lost Forest for coffee and gripping tales of life in the meat locker… that head of his is shining me!
…which apparently does not exist in the Trail-verse, Mark once again plays Judge, Jury and executioner… Big Mike has changed his shirt three time in the last hour or so… and is seen here sorting through the collected works of??? Maybe I was being too hard on him, a man who appeared no deeper than a wading pool… perhaps there are more layers and dimensions that would have revealed if we only had the time… Big Mike, we hardly knew ye… Or maybe these are the ledger books documenting his evil empire- the set he keeps and the set he shows the IRS… If he goes away it won’t be for Skinning Otters or Shining Deer, it will be for tax evasion, which is what brought Alphonse Gabriel “Al” “Scarface” Capone down!
Trail must’ve played some football in his youth! Look at the form he exhibits in making Big Mike go “OOOF!” Even though he doesn’t say it, can’t you just feel it? Head low, legs driving, shoulder to the gut, Big Mike sure didn’t expect that one!! We should be back at Lost Forest in no time… and will Mark acknowledge that without Jason Smith coming out to Big Mike’s to inquire about his health, he might have perished? Let’s see if Mark possesses the awareness and magnanimity required to string that thought together…
How appropriate that Frankie is laid out on a stack of what appears to be otter pelts! I am sure one of them is Mollie’s! Sweet dreams, Frankie! Your life, as you knew it, is about to change!!
Nice dramatic pause, Mark… BIG MIKE MORRISON! And what will Big Mike’s prison name be? There has to already be a “Big Mike” or two in the pen… so he will either have to change his name or fight for the right to keep it, since there certainly can’t be any, “Which Big Mike you talkin’ ‘bout” going on amongst the inmates and their keepers…
Jean Claude Van Damme got nothin’ on you, Mark Trail!! Nice crab-kick! Even with those skinny little legs, with body temp hovering in the hypothermic range, you take him out with one blow! Now this is the Trail I have been missing- no tackling, no more “it’s just us against nature,” but rather two baddies that need to be brought down the old way- with a swift punch or kick!
Love Jason Smith in the first frame- arms held “up” but not really… more like “whatever, I’ve been held at gun point before, I am a newspaperman, remember??”
All right!! This just in (2/22/2014) I stumbled upon this strip from 1999! Look familiar??
Replace a Reporter with a Game Warden, and voila! Reprise, right down to the kick, the flying gun and hat, the shirt collar, and the look of surprise!!
Who says you can’t go home again!!
I really need to cut Elrod and Co. some slack… but why would I start now? “Insert Big Mike Head Shot, front right ¾ view…” Recall how they have used this, and his mirror image before:
Sort of like a Slylock Fox game “tell me what’s different with these pictures…”
But enough of that, back to the story.
“Buddy?” “Friend?” Methinks they overstate the facts here…
“Stiff as a board?” “Dying to see you?” Oh my these are lines that the Joker or Penguin might have used in the original batman series!
There’s not an ounce of remorse here, ladies and gentlemen… these are cold hearted killers! How many other Nosey Parkers have they snuffed in the past just to keep their Trophy Poaching Empire intact? The mind Boggles…