who is whose bitch now??

Really Mark, did you think that Jeff, the hardened criminal, is just going to roll over and start complying?  You are going to need to prove to him that you would be willing to USE that gun, more than he was able to prove it when he was pointing it at you… you know, shoot a toe off or something like that…

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So now they get to repeat the death march, in reverse, paddling upstream…  this is going to take DAYS…

And in case any of you were wondering whether the gun is of any use now, (I was…) it should be, based on this demonstration

damn…

They don’t call him “Ol’ One-Punch” for nothing… one blow sends bad guy AND rock flying…  Impressive too is Mark’s ability to drag Jeff by the scruff of the neck onto dry land and deposit him unceremoniously against a River Birch… Jeff’s gotta go what- two and a half bills??  That’s impressive considering the lack of sleep and nourishment we are dealing with…

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“You’re Done…  That’s It!”

Classic words from our hero.  Deep breath, everyone…

Yes, Mark, find the gun.  Find the artifacts.  YOUR work here isn’t done…

I am so excited I can barely type!

As Jeffie-B is relieved of his colt and driven into the shallows, all he can do is pick up… a rock?  This is awesome!  Mark has the wingspan necessary to keep him at bay while he reaches back to deliver a crushing blow!!  Now they can meet on level ground, “sportsmanlike” in the words of Andre the Giant…

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Panel one shows Mark in pure “head-down, drive forward” mode.  I have seen this before.  Clearly Mark played some “ball” in his youth…

All I can say is “finally…” this has to be the turning point of this story…  but will Jeff fold up like all the other baddies, or will be come back on Mark?  Stay tuned!

no words, just ACTION!

The Gun, the GUN!!  Get THE GUN!!  With the help of his “little friends” Mark Trail is turning the tables on big, bad, evil, son-of-a-bitch bad-ass Jeffie-B.!!  The Wasps CAN tell good from bad as they attack the gun wielding, kidnapping, thieving scoundrel…  Now Jeff wishes he HAD “just killed” Mark Trail, and not turned him into his valet…

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Love how Mark can turn his L.L. Bean Chamois-cloth shirt (now on sale!) into a hoodie at a moment’s notice to protect himself from the stinging mass…

So Mark… your next move?  This was a deft strategy in the moment, but have you really thought this through?

Not to be picky…

But the canoe used to be green… now it’s all washed out…  but no matter.  Mark is summoning his friends the Wasp colony in his bid to be free of Jeff and his drawn pistol…  WASP… White Anglo Saxon Protestant…  Not that Mark has professed any church affiliation that I am aware of, but he certainly fits all the other criteria…

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And oh!  It’s when Mark has the presence of mind to not verbalize that we can tell he is actually thinking… and may be able to get out of this predicament he is in!  and Jeff is blithely unaware of what Mark is doing this time!  Walking behind Mark on the Trail… looking off to the side rather than at his captive, Jeff is about to get his comeuppance!  But can Mark protect himself?!? Oh the tension mounts!

And the bees go buzzzz….

With Mark applying proper leverage and “use your legs, not your back” technique, up goes the canoe onto his shoulders.  Of course we could not have anticipated the hornet/wasp nest on the trail.  I think we can see what is going to happen now… But I don’t think the stinging mass is going to be able to discern good from bad… Is Mark going to knock the hive down and then hide under the canoe while Jeff B. gets the life stung out of him?  It is interesting that Mark will have to rely on nature to help him out of this jam… rather than relying on his own rights, lefts and kicks…

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But with the Wasp mugging for the camera in panel three like Ferris Bueller, let’s assume they can tell the difference…

I would suppose that after this is all wrapped up, the Trail/Davis’s will NOT EVER want to go back into the woods… “canoe trip,” like “petting zoo” will become a euphemism known only to them as a time filled with nothing but pain, suffering and headaches…

…and 2013 goes out with a… portage?

As Mark in panel two contemplates the arc of his life (perpetually 35 years old, has never done anything except what he is doing right now, got married to ensure a roof over his head and three squares a day, tricked into becoming a step father)  he thinks of jumping off the rock face to his death as a viable option to doing Jeff’s bidding…  thinking of the peace that Johnny Walker must know, having hurtled over the edge with the angry, grazed elk, never to scheme again…

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…and yet, all Mark can seem to think about is the location of “those artifacts.”  Otherwise, this whole thing will have been for naught.  Like a terrier on a bone, this guy is… even in the face of certain death, he can only think of that which is driving the plot line.  Because really, does anyone think that Mark is actually in mortal danger here?  I mean, the strip is named ‘Mark Trail’ after all… But even as we manufacture some tension, the mind still races as to how Mark gains the upper hand…  does he put the canoe up on his shoulders and then do a 360, taking Jeff out?  He can’t kill Jeff, since he knows where the loot is hidden.  Oh, such a conundrum…