All’s well that, uh, flaps well??

Of course, Mark’s hungry!  He hasn’t eaten in weeks!!  Poor guy!  Why, his jeans are about to fall off his withering frame.  While Doc and Cherry have been enjoying the hospitality of Ed Dunlap, Mark has been subjected to all manner of incarceration and torture!  My and how fast the Wheels of Justice turn in the Trailverse!  Jared’s in jail?  You mean maybe he is being held as a person of interest pending his indictment hearing?  And there’s Ol’ Jeff Baucom!  Folded like a cheap tent!  Still tied up and leaning against the house in the corner of the first panel.  I almost didn’t see him!  Makes me wonder if Rusty has been hiding in the corners all the while, maybe emitting muffled cries for validation and love…

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Ed, you are so full of it…  You thought Mark was a Bad Guy for sure…  Or at least you did not know WHAT to think about what had just gone down…  won’t be so trusting now, will you??

And there’s Andy… Nothing like a good dose of hot, steamy, rancid dog breath to whet the appetite… bon apetit!!

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I am actually quite grateful.

That we were spared weeks of toil and trouble getting back to Dunlap’s cabin with two pack baskets of artifacts and one bad guy- “Jeff Baucom.”  How exactly Mark was able to maintain control over Jeff… but wait, did he just leave him at the “abandoned shack,” all tied up?  Hmmm… I wonder.  And Jared Sosbee – what’s become of him?  He left weeks ago, to “go get the sheriff,” or something like that.  Like I said before, he is probably holed up in some safe house awaiting Jeff B’s return with the loot.  Oh, how disappointed he will be!!

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But in the last panel, Mark maintains that he “has” the Relics and the Bad Guy… Oh well, anything to wrap this story up…  it’s time that Mark and the clan return to Lost Forest and see what’s become of their world, having abandoned it… And by the way… I am sure Rusty is quite tired enough of doing the “Home Alone” thing…

“Those” Artifacts? What? Are there others??

Pretty shallow grave there, Jeff-my-Man…  Maybe covered by an inch of dirt and the pine straw…

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You took an awful chance there, Mark…  must not have been an “Ol’ Bear,” but maybe a young one, easily spooked…

It would seem that Mark has a new Catch Phrase  (sort of like, “Do you feel lucky, punk?”) “I’m not much for words…” That is unless you are all alone, verbalizing your every thought… then you are a regular Chatty Cathy

Mark Trail… Smarter than the average bear…

Wow!  Those synapses are firing and dots are connecting, and Mark, despite all the blows to his head over the course of this story arc, puts all the pieces together!! Not very believably, mind you, but at some point we had to wrap this saga…

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Do you love the face in panel two, or what??  The look of a man who realizes his entire life has led him to…. THIS MOMENT.  A mountaintop moment on the forest floor!!  Face to face with a BEAR!  Now, any experienced guide will tell you that Bear are not to be challenged, can run faster and climb better than you, and while Mark is an experienced woodsman, he ought to know better- go get the gun… fire a warning shot, scare the bear off.  C’mon Mark don’t be an idiot, not in your moment of revelation!

Mark, I sure hope YOU don’t bury YOUR garbage…

And, no, “Bury your garbage” is not a euphemism for anything…  like “Junk in the Trunk…”  I am talking about the OUTDOOR CODE.  With which I would assume you are well acquainted??  The whole “Leave No Trace” idea that would preclude one from ever “burying garbage…”  But no matter, it’s throw-back time in the Trailverse, when that practice was acceptable and as long as it was out of sight, it probably did not matter what campers did with their trash…

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But wait ‘til “That Ol’ Bear” bites down on some syrup infused arrowheads… That is going to be one surprised and unhappy Ol’ Bear… But this is really a sad commentary on the impact of man on what is otherwise a noble and self-sufficient beast- Bears have only recently (relatively speaking) come to regard man as a reliable food source, since we can’t seem to go anywhere without bringing food with us, that bears have come to associate man with food!  And it’s not that bears tend to eat man, it’s all the hoho’s and Nature Valley Granola Bars that we keep in our backpacks…

But I sermonize… Let’s be grateful now that Jared was such a spaz and dropped the syrup bottle and spilled its contents into one of the pack baskets.  Who knew where that was going?  Certainly not me…

I have “heard” gun shots not half that loud…

Didn’t know broken brush could create a report approaching 130 dB…

And Jeff was never what one would call, ummm…, handsome, but now that he is riddled with Wasp stings all over his bald pate, he is downright hideous to behold…

And as the writers try to figure out where the you-know-what this story line is going (“I know! a bear! Yeah- A BEAR! Comes along, see, and oh!  Smells the syrup on the basket containing the artifacts, yeah! That’s it, and then it gets to digging…)  Sorry if I just guessed that one, but well, that’s why I am the one commenting on all this…  Sorry if that was a major spoiler…

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But oh, thanks for what seems to be a resolution to this pack-basket-o-fun… Now we just need the others to randomly stumble upon Jeff and Mark, complete with Sheriff or constable or something… but in this present situation, with Jeff tied up, it might still look like Mark took the Indian stuff???  And HE buried it??  OK, figure that one out!!

tied him up right…

…and killing him with kindness?  Took me a minute to figure out what Mark is doing in the second panel…  applying baking soda to the wasp stings…  what if Jeff was allergic?  He’d be dead by now for sure and the mystery of the artifacts would have gone to the grave with him…

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But Really Jeff, I mean, what is your problem??  Was your father a crook and you are taking up the family business?  Are you just a jerk by nature?

By now we certainly have to wonder what the others are doing…  just sitting around eating flapjacks with homemade syrup?  Is Jared waiting dutifully at some pre-determined rendezvous point, only to think that Jeffy-poo has double crossed him and is now living the Life of Riley with all the money he got for the artifacts??

What role does Mr. Bear play in this Greek Tragedy?  Only in the Trailverse…