Pay no attention to the fool behind the camera!

We’ve already had a week of Mark and Rex at the gate to the touching zoo, and we’re still here. You’d think somebody would, at least, have had to go to the bathroom. Unlike the sober, straight-forward Mark Trail of Sunday, we’re back to the Kramer version of Mark Trail.

Well, I think I already planted my flag in the hypothetical ground that Diana’s expulsion was deliberately staged and this danse des imbéciles of Mark’s is just a pose to fool the zoo staff to overlook his actual undercover investigation. So, we’ll see who turns out to be the real fool here.

Mark Trail: Peeping Tom

Mark’s overly suspicious mind turns him into a peeping tom, invading Rex’s privacy. Mark is making a lot of assumptions on virtually no evidence, while ignoring the actual evidence given him (that is, Rex’s desire to retire early to get enough sleep for an early morning gym visit).

For example, why does Mark seem to think that Rex snuck off to do something secretive, when Rex exited in full view of the crew, while also snubbing Mark’s overtures? And what business is it of Mark’s, anyway?

Wait. How can Rex call his dog on the phone? Is there a human taking care of Buzz who can answer the phone? Or is Buzz a modern-day Lassie, capable of understanding humans and performing human actions?

Nectar of the gawd awful?

As far back as the ancient Egyptians, libations have been part of religious and funeral rituals as well as celebrations. Libations composed of oils, water, milk, or even alcoholic liquids were poured onto objects or on to the ground. In spite of Ernest’s “aw shucks” redneck pose, he apparently had enough of an education to create this clever brand name for his otherwise odious concoction.

Thank goodness Cherry has enough common sense to see a possible link with the pet rash problem. Maybe we’ll learn something next week, if Rivera doesn’t drag us to Mark’s tiger spa assignment.

It is what it always is?

So why would the SSS hire Cherry as well as Honest Ernest for the presumably same job? Or did Cherry mix up her own assignment? Is there a reason for these continued conflicts? Well, a pointless question, perhaps, since this situation is used to move the story along.

Ernest is an interesting character. His very pose in yesterday’s strip is an archetype of his comical arrogance and almost affable, positive attitude.  Until pushed, that is. I hope we’ll learn more about his personality and motives. For one thing, Ernest was at least smart enough to diversity his business with another revenue source.  We’ll just have to see how the story develops.

Bollocks the garden. Just take the cash and run!

Honestly! Ernest and his chemicals to the rescue. Or fescue? Whatever.

Oh well, back to Cherry’s small world of Big Problems. I’m glad to see that Cherry has a business and something to do other than wait for Mark to come home from his latest adventure. And there’s checking in on Rusty (if he hasn’t run off with the Seaside Specter) and ol’ Doc and his rash crisis. But doesn’t Cherry’s business have any other customers around which an adventure can be built?  What about her secret garden commandos? Surely, there is a story to be found there. Instead, we have the Big Hat and the Big Mouth once again.

“What’s the average speed of a rampaging elephant?”

Hmm, how hard could it be to track a rampaging elephant in the United States?  Just follow the destruction, stupefied homeowners, and authorities already hot on its trail.

But Bill Ellis is easily impressed by anybody who can connect the dots. So why is this a job for Mark, who is a nature journalist, not an animal tracker? Seems to be quite a stretch. At least, Mark seems to have enough good sense to consider the second assignment.

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?

Rusty connects the dots

What Rivera has been doing since she took on this strip is to consistently run a secondary storyline alongside the main (Mark) storyline. This is one of Rivera’s better contributions to Mark Trail (along with the reduction in exclamation marks!), providing—for a comic strip—a more complex story environment that wants regular viewing to keep things straight. Until this Oregon Vacation story, Cherry has been the chief star of the secondary stories. Now, it is Rusty’s turn to fill the alternate plot. Rivera has kept Rusty’s storyline along what we might expect to see for a pre-teen boy. Little Orphan Annie he is not. But Rusty is trying. So, will Rivera finally let Rusty have more room to grow?

Dept. of Curious Observations:  Panel 1 is a curious image, don’t you think? Aside from a bear cartoon-bombing the scene, we see what appears to be an open door with trees growing directly in front of it, making the doorway inaccessible. I thought that picture on the wall was meant to represent a painting; but now it is clearly a strangely-drawn window in which we see Rusty crafting his plans. The room is clearly lit, yet the adjacent doorway is totally in darkness.

Finally, a tip of the hat to BobS on CK for opining that the SurfSquatch graphic novel that Rusty is reading might have been produced by Cricket Bro’s corporation as an advertising tool. Clever connection!