No more goose jokes, please!

Well, I’ll stop doing them. I see the team got the geese contained. And Mark stayed out of it, thank goodness. But did they move the geese to another yard, first? If not, how does this help the keytarist? I presume the geese are still honking. In fact, they’re probably honking a lot more! I’m surprised Jimmy Songbird, the keytarist, isn’t taking advantage of the situation by working on a way to incorporate the goose honks into a song. I remember the old Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass song (Tijuanna Taxi) with a taxi klaxon that sounds something like a goose. 

Story-wise, I suppose Rivera has to establish Rex’s bona fides as a true video animal wrangler star. I don’t necessarily see any signs of his supposed depression, so that clearly isn’t the point here. Maybe Mark will get inspired to start his own video gig to enhance his visibility and earn some extra cash.

Honk if you love geese!

Well, here is a chance for Mark to gain some street cred, if he has a mind to help Rex, and assuming Rex wants the help. We can see signs of Mark’s growing impatience in the last panel, as if Mark has an “I can fix this!” pulse quivering up the back of his neck.

Diana told Mark earlier that Rex has depression issues, so I’m thinking that if Mark interferes, it will not exactly build up Rex’s self-confidence. Just bite your tongue and stay put, Mark! Well, if this fails, there is still time for the Kaytarist of Hamelin approach.

“But first a few words from our sponsor, Canada Dry….”

No, Jimmy Songbird is not speaking in some kind of bad dialect. The Keytar is the actual name of this instrument, which is kind of a keyboard slung around the next like a regular electronic guitar. I remember seeing Edgar Winter use this instrument in his earlier shows. Never cared for the instrument, myself, but so what? I wasn’t a professional musician.

Still, how is Rex going to confront these geese and get them moved:  Make friends with the geese and cage them? Get Jimmy to pretend to be the Pied Piper? Put up a yard sign stating, “Geese Hunting in Season!

I reckon we’ll just have to wait and see; that is, unless Mark gets a brilliant idea and winds up creating chaos on the set.

Why is Mark suddenly such a dork?

Mark’s clumsy dialog is clearly mirrored in the equally clumsy artwork, which continues to befuddle me. How the art can go from decent to awkward so quickly is a mystery. By the way, I don’t expect that being presented as a writer for Teen Girl Sparkle will do much to enhance Mark’s reputation or standing with Rex.

Actually, I’m a bit surprised that anybody who has had contact with Canada geese actually likes Canada geese. But I do like some of Rivera’s labels: “Animal Rexpertise” is clever!

Neither adorable nor dashing

Today’s strip may do very little to win over long-time Trailheads (which Rivera probably gave up on some time ago) but will probably also do as little to bring in new readers, who will think that Mark is just a real jerk. If the best Rivera can do is turn Mark into her own parody of Woody from Toy Story, then I wonder if she has seriously miscalculated.

From a story angle, Mark’s odd behavior would seem do work against giving Rex any reason for building trust, which is presumably necessary to help keep Rex out of the cult. From a selfish point of view, Mark’s appearance and action certainly shoots holes in my presumption that this would be a more serious story. On the other hand, perhaps this is a deliberate act on Mark’s part to keep suspicion off of him and make him appear impotent. Okay, I’ll reserve further judgement and see how the week pans out.

When in a funk, just join a cult!

Wait, is that Caroline in the background of panel 3, before she hooked up with Honest Ernest? Well, maybe not. Anyway, seems Diana has a back-history of losing clients to cults. Perhaps she might be influencing their depression, as warmth and charm are not her strong points. But she certainly has no talent for saving them from cults! What about Mark? I don’t recall seeing that particular skill on his resume.  Still, this is the Mark Trail comic strip, so we must hope for the best.

Some readers might be hoping to see some long-awaited-for fists-o-justice action in this assignment, but having seen Mark go up against Professor Bee Sharp, I’m hoping Mark wisely brought along a holster filled with a Colt .44-40 and plenty of ammunition. It doesn’t sound like this lion zoo cult is filled with washed-up hippies.

Daggers drops the shades

It’s not every day we see Diana Daggers sans shades, so this assignment is clearly important to her, at least. And we now learn that Diana’s objective all along is saving Rex. Is their relationship more than professional, or has Diana gone full-tilt altruistic?

But Mark is a nature journalist, not a commando. Does Diana think Mark can expose enough of the cult’s practices to bring Rex around? You’d think Diana could do that herself. After all, why should Rex trust a stranger, especially one dressed like Sheriff Woody? The plot possibilities are piling up!

Still, Mark might want to watch his backside. Perhaps it is Diana that is part of the cult, and she has developed this negative feeling about men. Maybe Professor Bee Sharp’s betrayal put her over the edge. And now, she could be luring men into this strange cult. Tigers have to be fed, of course.

Deep Fake

Thank goodness Rivera is adding more layers of complexity to the story, as well as avoiding the macho driver put-down I wondered about yesterday. I don’t mind being wrong. But I’m glad to see the plot take on some surprising turns, rather than sticking with the original farce of an assignment.

So, the roadside zoo assignment is a blind and Rex is the actual assignment. We’ve been getting a more nuanced view of Diana for the past few stories, beyond the cartoon tough gal image she originally portrayed back in Palm Springs. It seems somewhat incredulous that Amy and Diana just happen to be childhood friends, but still, why not? After all, how incredulous was it that Cricket Bro turned out to be Mark’s childhood nemesis, Rob Bettancourt? Okay, don’t answer that!

Mark’s other editor, Rafael, also knows Diana, which further explains her frequent appearances. Still, I hope this is all of Diana for a while. Mark needs new people to interact with. So does this strip!

Buckle up, readers!

So, Diana is in charge? At least we know how and why she met Mark at the airport. I’m going to take a wild guess that this is not LAX, since there are so few people in the terminal and there is no way a car could just park right outside, all by itself without getting towed.

I notice that Diana is on the passenger side of the car in panels 3 and 4, opposite Mark. Another big limb here, but I’m thinking that Rivera is setting us up for some misogynistic “I’m a guy so I’ll drive” trope humor.

A good time to go get a snack, folks

It’s one of those time-wasting submissions today. For some reason, Diana Daggers seems to have become somewhat like Kelley Welly in this rebooted strip, always unexpectedly showing up to interfere in Mark’s assignments, but not getting chased off.

Rivera has introduced at least twenty new secondary characters (those with speaking roles) in the strip, but that seems hard to believe, when we keep seeing the same three or four. Isn’t Rex Scorpius enough of a character? Or is Rivera suggesting it is Mark that needs the character support here? Sure, Daggers has interesting qualities as a supporting character. But over-exposure will almost certainly dilute her edginess.