If there’s one thing not needed in this picture…

…it’s Mark.  If the whole point of this was to procure a get-away car/truck/SUV, that’s been accomplished.  Why Baldy hasn’t ice-ice-babied Mark or at least left him stranded at this point is a wonder to me…  Not to mention that Mark could ID the guy in his sleep by now.  Mark is a definite liability here.

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Oh look, see the Big Horn Sheep!  For some reason come down from the elevations where one would normally find them…  Guessing they are very close to sea level at this point… but hey, what do I know??  Rapid City is at 3,200 ft!  But still I think these animals typically frolic at 6-8,000 ft based on my own expeditionary experience…

An airstrip huh? And Mr. Ponytail is in a plane?  Will he find his way out here?  Who knows… who cares??

Finally! Ferrets!

There they are!  Lower left!  Cute little guys, about to emerge from an “abandoned” prairie dog burrow, abandoned because they ate all the prairie dogs!!  Looking to wreak more havoc on the landscape!

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And what on earth is Mark hanging onto in the second panel?  That is the funniest looking steering wheel I have ever seen!  And all the shading drawn in around him?  Are we looking at Mark through Baldy’s eyes?  Does he have glaucoma?  I still don’t understand what Baldy’s strategy is here… there are probably 50  other ways to secure a getaway car that don’t involve brandishing a handgun and bringing other people into the situation, let alone Mark Trail…

Well, so much for the Water-World defense…

I thought for sure yesterday that Mark was trying to remind the counter agent that he wasn’t fit to rent anything…  based on his dubious record of returning items unscathed…  But here we find him behind the wheel of a lovely blue SUV, apparently being paid for by one Leslie Joyce.  Who is what? A benefactor? An investor? A Sugar-Mommy?

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But Mark, you are breaking with tradition!  Bad guys always call good guys by their surname- “Mr. Bond” or “Mr. Powers.”  “Nice try?”  How about, “Yea, right!”  Baldy probably has so many aliases he could tell you his name and it wouldn’t really be helpful!  And for love of Mike, that’s not a girl!  That’s a woman!  And doesn’t the kidnapper usually call the shots as far as where they go?  Are they going to drive to the Res and then what? Get introduced to Johnny Lone-Elk?

Going right to the black-list!

As Mark approaches the Rental Car Counter (which looks more like a makeshift lemonade stand…) we see the agent all hunched over with (as it turns out) her back to the world…  Maybe she just finished a sneeze, or is sneaking a drink of something…

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Gertz!  Ha!  I see what you did there Mr. Allen!  But wait there’s more!  The line that Mark dreamt up that will keep him from being able to rent a car at all…  He’s invoking the “Water-World” defense- one more thing in life that caused great tumult but was clearly not his fault… recall Cherry reminding Mark of the last time that he and Johnny Lone-Elk got together… And Leslie Joyce!  We met her a loooong time ago when we were fighting Terrorism, World Domination and Radiated Sharks with Mississippi Ken!  And even though she provided the protective suit, she reminded Mark of something, something that happened that required Mark to have “some nerve” to call her…  Yup, I’m seeing a large bulletin board with pins and yarn connecting all these people and events!

Let’s make this a little more obvious…

With Mark stroking his whiskerless chin he is rapidly giving himself away!  The fact that he is thinking, thinking of a way out of this!  One that will out Ol’ Baldy and not get him and “The Girl” shot…

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So it appears that he can’t walk and think at the same time, which is making everyone impatient.  “Give me a Minute- I’m working on it?”  That’s the best you got, Trail?! But with the knowing and cunning look, Mark clearly has something up his sleeve.  Why not a good old fashioned haymaker?  A roundhouse to Baldy’s jaw?  He’d never see it coming!  C’mon Mark, Just like in the old days…

This Olde Trope Never Works…

Guy has gun, other guy doesn’t have gun.  Guy with gun makes guy without gun drive.  Gun stays trained on guy driving.  Let’s think about what happens to both guys if guy with gun shoots guy driving.  Both guys die.  Or at least get maimed…  And as we recall from her single verbal offering, the “girl” doesn’t read, or at least attaches very little value to those who write, so very little lost there if Baldy shoots her…

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As has also been pointed out, cars are about the only form of rental in which Mark hasn’t been blacklisted…  so this is kind of funny.  He’ll end up doing something to hurt the car, and well, more paperwork.  But is he traveling on his own or on the Magazine’s dime?  I think we all know the answer to that one…