What’s Going On In Mark Trail? Why was that kid so snide toward Rusty? November 2022 – February 2023

The recent story in Jules Rivera’s Mark Trail featured Robbie, a rival classmate of Rusty Trail’s. Their fight got started in class, as such things will, particularly in a quarrel about who had the better presentation about cryptids. Rusty Trail knew stuff about krakens that his classmate didn’t mention in the report. So you can understand Robbie’s being fed up with the know-it-all.

This should catch you up to mid-February 2023 in Mark Trail. If you’re reading this after about May 2023, there’s probably a more up-to-date plot recap here. Thanks for joining me.

Mark Trail.

13 November 2022 – 12 February 2023.

Stories were wrapping up last time we visited the Lost Forest. Caroline accused Cherry Trail of having an affair with her husband, Honest Ernest. Cherry accidentally lets slip it’s Violet Cheshire he’s seeing. Caroline wants to teach him a lesson. She accepts Cherry Trail’s suggestion of taking all of Ernest’s home-brewed lawn toxin to a waste collection facility. So that’s all fine, right?

Meanwhile at the Tiger Touch Center, escaped elephant Gemma has stormed into the scene, revenge apparently on her mind. Tess Tigress admits to Rex Scorpius why an elephant might want revenge against her. Years ago — at another, overloaded, zoo, she claims — the attempt to sell off Gemma and her sisters enraged her mother. They had to put the mother down. And Gemma remembered, which is plausible enough. I’m not clear how Gemma knew where to find Tess, especially across several states, with one of them Texas. It can be explained, we just don’t see it done.

[ The Tiger Touch Center plunges into chaos after a rampaging elephant tears through. ] Rex Scorpius; 'What a bust. The catgirl of my dreams turns out to be a cruel zookeeper. Now I have no girl and no family.' Mark Trail: 'That's not true. We're here for you!' Diana Daggers, driving up: 'Yeah, Rex. You've got people. Need a lift?' Mark Trail: 'Diana! We have two tigers to haul with us. Is that going to be a problem?' Diana: 'Hm ... I'll clear off the back seat.'
Jules Rivera’s Mark Trail for the 26th of November, 2022. Wait, wasn’t this the first story in Skin Horse?

Gemma chases Tess out of town, and out of the country, and out of the story. The mysterious tent turns out to have juvenile tigers, ones too large for ‘therapeutic’ touching, and way too large for their cages. Luckily Diana Daggers drives back around, ready to pick up Rex, and Mark Trail, and the tiger cubs. The Tiger Touch Center gets closed up, people who weren’t sure they were in a cult go home. Tess Tigress is absent, and so is Gemma, threads for another story, one imagines.

The current story got started the 5th of December. It plays on one of the traditional Mark Trail snarks. A common story transition, particularly in the Jack Elrod era, was Mark Trail promising Rusty a fishing trip that the new story would preempt. James Allen actually got Rusty on a fishing trip. And now Jules Rivera has Mark Trail take up Rusty on his request from like three years ago to go fishing.

Thing is, Rusty’s a bit older, getting into the teenage years, and not excited to get up at 4 am on a Saturday to spend time with Dad without even someone else that Dad could talk to instead. Mark Trail fears the worst, that Rusty doesn’t like fishing. Cherry talks sense into him: ask Rusty what he would like to do today instead.

[ Mark notices Rusty get into a quarrel with one of his friends before the cryptid river boat hunt. ] Robbie: 'The Bassigator isn't real, Rusty. I can't wait for you to be proven wrong.' Rusty: 'You're the expert, 'Cuz you're wrong all the time.' Mark Trail: 'Whoa, boys! This is supposed to be a friendly trip. Let's not fight before the boat ride.' Rusty: 'But Dad! You fight around boats all the time! It's like your whole thing!'
Jules Rivera’s Mark Trail for the 29th of December, 2022. Hey, Mark Trail has other hobbies, like probably avoiding the Florida police and Coast Guard.

What Rusty wants to do is cryptozoology. To wit: finding the bassigator, Mark Trail doesn’t believe there is such a part-bass, part-alligator, but what the heck. He can borrow a boat from the De-Bait Team. And a bunch of Rusty’s school friends, plus a promising new enemy he’s picked up. They’re rivals over the quality of their in-class reports about cryptid animals. This is ridiculous in exactly the right way to tickle me. It’s got that nerd-sniping chic to it.

So next week Mark Trail and Rusty and some of his classmates set out in a boat to find adventure. Or at least some coves, you can always find a good cove if you’re trying. The search bumps up hard against adventure and coves: alligators in the Lost Forest waters, farther north than they should be. And, worse, the boat runs aground in a cove full of alligators.

Cherry Trail doesn’t know exactly what happened. But Duke, who provided the De-Bait Team’s boat to the expedition, mentions knowing about the horseshoe-shaped cove with all the alligators. And Cherry, who’s slipped a tracking device into Rusty’s backpack, knows they’re at that cove. So they’re off to the rescue.

[ Mark gets out of the boat to push it back into the water. ] Mark Trail, pushing the boat barely ahead of the alligators: 'Rusty, when you feel the boat hit the water, throw the throttle in reverse.' Ian: 'Whoa! Mr Trail is so brave!' Mark Trail, confident: 'Bah! Thes gators can't scare me! I work on deadlines!'
Jules Rivera’s Mark Trail for the 25th of January, 2022. That’s funny because I have definitely finished this article before its schedule deadline time of 7:15 pm Eastern the 14th of February, you know. Long before, long enough before I could re-read it and fix weird sentence conglomerations that crept in.

Mark Trail, meanwhile, has gone and rescued himself. With Rusty at the helm he hops off the boat to push it into the water. Rusty backs the boat away from the shore, and the kids help yank Mark Trail aboard before anyone can be eaten. They follow the tracker Mark Trail left on Cherry’s car, to a happy safe reunion. And all the kids, including Rusty’s imminent enemy, agree this was awesome. Fair enough.

And some more happy news. Bill Ellis is up for a story about alligators moving into the Lost Forest. So Mark Trail gets a writing gig he doesn’t have to leave home for. All’s looking great and there’s no way there’s any problems ahead.

Sunday Animals Watch!

Here’s animals or natural phenomena mentioned in the Sunday panels the last few weeks. Please forgive me not having some wisecrack about them. It’s been a pretty rough couple days and, I mean, the train wreck in East Palestine, Ohio, doing for the Ohio River Valley what the US Navy’s doing for Hawai’i, makes it hard to do my usual whistling past the graveyard here.

  • Roadside Zoos, 13 November 2022.
  • Rip Currents, 20 November 2022.
  • Pumpkins, 27 November 2022.
  • Elephants, 4 December 2022.
  • Muskrats and Beavers, 11 December 2022.
  • Moose, Reindeer, and Caribou, 18 December 2022.
  • Christmas Trees, 25 December 2022.
  • The Klamath Dams, 1 January 2023.
  • Alligators, 8 January 2023.
  • Squirrels, 15 January 2023.
  • Formerly Legendary Animals, 22 January 2023.
  • Snowflakes, 29 January 2023.
  • Mountain Lion P-22, 5 February 2023.
  • Iguanas, 12 February 2023.

Next Week!

Sure we’ve got platitudes, but we always have platitudes. What the past several months of Karen Moy and June Brigman’s Mary Worth have given us is a wedding. And, even better, humiliation for Wilbur Weston.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

2 thoughts on “What’s Going On In Mark Trail? Why was that kid so snide toward Rusty? November 2022 – February 2023”

    1. I did; I couldn’t figure a graceful way to mention it. I figured it was setting up a later plot point, and the De-Bait Team guy mentioned it too. But so far there hasn’t been any appearance of drugged attack squirrels in the main narrative. But I did notice this new story is starting off with the promise of Mark Trail fighting a bear, so, we’ll see where this goes?


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