Mark and Happy continue to sit side-by-side at some kind of big table, as if they are at a conference. But is this inside or somewhere outside of the house? It’s a strange look. Clearly, the F&W officer is being snarky. Some behind-the-drawing board interrogation has been going on and we’re getting only the summation. Is Mark is too poor to rent an SUV? How could he afford cross-country airline tickets?
Story-wise, the Saturday strip ends in some kind of corny Hallmark Moment, recalling traditional Mark Trail post-adventure reunions. In other words, where is the edginess that the Reboot is supposed to deliver? Is Rivera bowing to traditional expectations or is she mocking them?
Anyway, this kind of special moment normally takes place after a story ends and Mark comes home for a few days. This may not be the conclusion of the adventure, as there are loose ends to resolve. But Rivera likes to weave multiple story threads, so this could be just the end of the Cricket Bro-NFT story arc. We still have the final resolution of The Seaside Specter to process; the Happy Trail-Crypto Bro business relationship to dissolve; and discover whether the Trail family will stick around for an actual vacation.
Is Happy Trail trying to push his cricket bars on the fish and wildlife officer? That’s a rather shabby, but bald, action that could go sideways, or could be laughed at. I reckon this whole thing has worked out like most of Mark’s vacations: anything but.
One other observation: Both on Tuesday and today, we have seen the F&W officer framed in a white outline. Clearly, this is to help ensure we see the background action in each panel as a visualization of the officer’s testimony. It’s a good technique.
As is common in Mark Trail stories, a lot of details fall by the wayside, especially at or near the end of an adventure, and it appears that Rivera has kept up this dubious tradition of her predecessors. And there are several problems today. How is it that the game warden knows to refer to the brothers as the “Crypto Brothers”? Why does Happy Trail think Mark is also a good friend of the Crypto Brothers? How is it that Happy Trail does not understand why they would cut out without letting him know? And did the Crypto Brothers perform with Kiss?
I wonder whether Mark or Cherry ever got the business relationship between Happy Trail and those two grifters severed. Seems they were too busy doing other things, as far as I have seen. It would have been simpler and more effective to have hired a lawyer to take care of things; but then, there would hardly be this story to tell. The story is not yet over, but it does present an interesting situation where Mark is not always successful. In fact, Mark attempted to sabotage the only real effort (by somebody else) to put a stop to the Crypto Brothers’ scheme. Can Mark overcome these issues and finish up in the black?
More mattress-stuffing, as even Happy Trail acts stupefied to hear the news. And why is Mark excited, having written and talked about beavers as firefighters in the past? It’s too bad that only the two Trails are here, leaving the warden to have to repeat this information to everybody else. No, wait. Mark will want that pleasure, I think. So, where is everybody else?
Maybe the Bunco Brothers are down by the river snapping photos of beavers for a new series of NFTs.
I realize I am on vacation, but did I miss a day? Are they talking about the recent fire or the lumber mill fire? We’ve already been over why this had to be a new fire and not a continuation of the lumber mill fire. So why is Mark all up in arms, literally, about his father? He didn’t seem too concerned about his father during the event fire! And why does Dad need help talking to a game officer? Is he now senile?
After watching the 60 minutes episode last night on petty bureaucratic problems with deploying the Chinook helicopter as a fight fighting tool in California, maybe that state should just let a lot more goats and beavers loose in its forests, like they do up in Oregon! And the US Forestry Service can replace its pointless bear icon with Smokey the Beaver, an animal that has an actual positive role in firefighting.
We finish out the week with The Seaside Specter once again mysteriously disappearing, as Rusty is located and rescued by Mom and Dad. Ho-hum. No concerns about Happy Trail’s safety, it seems. I’m truly glad that, surrounded by a raging forest fire burning everything around then and sending people running in all directions, the Trail Family can find the time to stand around for group hugs. Maybe Happy shows up to get them outta there.
Rivera informs us that Professor Bee Sharp’s warning about the Scam Brothers went unnoticed, as they somehow still raked in the cash with their Monkey NFT Event. Good does not always triumph.
So, we’re at a junction in the storyline. Do we continue with the fire story arc? Do we follow Mark Trail Tradition and jump ahead to the next day? Or go with the venerable “we temporarily interrupt this story to set up the next adventure” direction? I reckon we’ll find out Monday!
This may sound self-serving and phony, but I actually did consider mentioning the Seaside Specter yesterday as a possible candidate to rescue Rusty, but more as a throwaway joke than a serious prediction. I went with Kelly, instead. But who is playing the Seaside Specter? I’m thinking it’s The Professor. My luck, it will be Happy Trail.
The larger concern here is that Rusty’s Adventure has dribbled out here and there. You see it and you’re not sure if Rusty is just filling in a few panels for Mark, or if Rivera is turning from Mark to give Rusty his due. Allen certainly gave Rusty co-star billing in the Mexican Smuggling Caper a few years ago. I think this iteration of Rusty might be a tad younger than his predecessor, which might explain the difference. On the other hand, Rivera has plausibly linked Rusty’s cryptid hobby into the Oregon Vacation story.
You sharp-eyed readers surely noticed that Rivera spelled “Crash” with a “C” today, not a “K”, which supports my flimsy hypothesis that her exploding EUV is probably a German car. Not that it really matters, but how else to explain “Krash” and “Krack” (for the EUV’s windshield)?
Moving on, forest fires are known to sometimes move very fast, so I reckon we can’t dismiss the speed with which this event site is now aflame. I’d criticize Rusty’s choice of a safe place (the wooden halfpipe), but he is just a kid. And just maybe that sheet of wood prematurely falling on Rusty really is heavier than it looks. Just another example of the slipshod work that the Crypto Brothers demand.
But we ask, who will come to his rescue? Mark already performed one fire-based rescue. What about the three girls? It’s doubtful; they were older and probably had the good sense to run in the opposite direction of the fire. I think it comes down to Pappy Happy. He’s the only one not accounted for, unless we discover that Kelly Welly is also working this gig.
This might look like we are seeing things wrap up, but I doubt it. Now, why would Rusty be in danger, unless he is in danger of losing his innocence? And about time, too! Aside from the approaching forest fire, there are several other issues that require Mark’s attention. Oh, you can list them as well as I can, so I won’t bother. Besides, I’m on vacation, so I can be a little lazy now and then.
But at the top of my Resolution List is that all of these West Coast Crazies disappear from the strip for at least a year to make room for new faces and new personalities. I think Rivera has gotten enough satire and wackiness out of these people as she can for the near future.
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.