Let’s take inventory of the expressions here…

Dusty the Ranger reminds me of Dr. Zaius from Planet of the Apes… same protruding, fixed lower mug… and then there’s Mark- cracking wise- “Well, Ol’ Friend, (he says in sort of a Ronald Reaganesque fashion) the bear delivered THAT message himself before YOU had a chance to… ha!”  He’s literally cracking himself up!  And Cherry looks back in, what? I don’t know… disbelief?  How’s the shoulder, Mark?  I bet it only hurts when you laugh…

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This must be as fun (or maybe scary and disconcerting) for Mark as it is for us… All these new emotions to try on.  It’s like when Data the Android received the “emotion chip” in an episode of Star Trek The next Generation… what will Mark do with all these new found emotions?  Cherry isn’t sure she doesn’t want the old, wooden version back…

“What happened to the man I married?,” she must be wondering…

And they already have a suspect in custody?  What up with that??  What’s Mark to do now?  I don’t get where this is going…

Well, I told you that that story in order to tell you THIS one…

Hold the phone!  Keep the clock running!  This story has only just begun!!  The look on Mark’s face is telling- jaw is clenched, eyes are narrowed, posture is forward…  Meanwhile the look on Cherry’s face tells the real story, as in, “Oh dear, there he goes again… off to save the natural world from evil-doers…”

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And of course what is Dusty’s job other than to TELL MARK about what is going on?  And then stand back and watch Mark do his job?  I mean, what?  Dusty is actually on the payroll and has in his job description to bring in bad people, but why would he do that if he has this crazy vigilante living in his jurisdiction??  Well, maybe they will work together…  maybe we will get a little Dusty back-story to help round out his character…  Remember, this is James Allen’s world now…

Command of Animals AND Body Hair…

James Allen just keeps breaking new ground.  Nipples.  There… I said it.  Nipples on Mark’s chest.  This could be a first, although I won’t spend the time to prove my thesis…  That, and once again, Mark seems to not have to ever shave…  This just seems unnatural along with the total lack of hair on his torso…  What about, oh, let’s not go there… but really- does he ever shave? I haven’t ever seen him with so much as a stubble.  Even Dagwood shaves… every morning in front of the bathroom mirror…

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And Mark, you are so clever, and could not wait to vocalize all that you have endured and how you schemed your way out of it… but you left out the part where you backed up and went over the falls!!  That’s the best part!  Simply saying you “hurt your shoulder” doesn’t do your story justice…  But that’s you Mark, modest to the end…

Not sure about the look on Cherry’s face in panel one… is it gas?

Move along, people, nothing to see here…

…except an ever-so-tender kiss on the Trail-cheek after his brush with death!  Was there time for a life-flashing-before-his-eyes moment?  I wonder…  But Dusty and Cherry, not Rusty and Andy, found Mark a little worse for wear but alive and able to write non-stories and fight eco-evil another day…

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OK, maybe this wraps a story line… we’ve been at this for 39 days… and we never even left Lost Forest!  Unless of course we consider the hint that Ol’ Dusty dropped a week or so back- the fact that there appears to be a poacher afoot!  Trapping bear and making them angry and aggressive…  So this is probably just a pit stop on the way to figuring that one out…

But a handful of stars and a thumbs-up to James Allen…  that was actually moderately exciting!

I Know this Probably Doesn’t BEAR Repeating…

… ha, ha, ha…

But we have certainly arrived at a new plateau in the Trailverse…  Mark shirtless and needing help, Cherry part of the story but NOT the one needing help… (well, never has she been shirtless, but always in need of help…)

Which reminds me of a Haiku I heard the other day…

Atop that plateau
We were greeted by an odd
Sense of inertia

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OK, everyone, let’s take a breather…