Like all swarthy men before him, Johnny's heart is pure, his loins are potent, and his mustache is ferociously uncomfortable. But below that mass of tight, glistening curls lies a firey mind incapable of mercy or composure, one that will stop at nothing until the Malotte name is unsullied, avenged, or the surname of every caucasian on earth.
But Paul's empty-handed return to the camp is doubtlessly the most unswarthy blow to Johnny's sporting camp yet, and the man you see in the panel above is not the man you will see just 10 days later. Witness the disintigration of a gentle mind:
Johnny's concerned, but not enough to touch his face. This is clearly an unsettling gesture.
It's difficult to grasp Johnny's state of mind when his body language suggests so many intense, seemingly unrelated emotions. He's eager to hear Paul's explanation, but it looks as if he's going to run away before the color-coordinated lad can conclude his frayed excuse. Is he losing weight or gaining it? Again, impossible to tell. Paul is still holding the oar for a reason.
Fear begets rage in the Malotte household, and after hearing that pant-sy camp competitor Bull Malone is behind the boat-soaking, Johnny's has no recourse but to head down the only road he's ever known in the unscrupulous world of commercial outdoorsy stuff.
It's going to take more than a frightened, possibly pregnant wife to convince Johnny that Bull's boastful ways don't warrant gunplay. Thankfully, a desire to taste the flesh coaxes Malotte away from his firearm.
Violent ambitions aside, Bull proves to be quite the adversary after Johnny stops talking to himself on the dock. Strangely enough, both pugilists in the Mark Trail universe can sustain more than one hit before conceding defeat, leading to several panels of implausible action.
Only when Bull takes the fight about 30 times too far do the ranger and his rangery cap decide that they've seen just about enough. There won't be any hoes impaling skulls on their watch.
And that's were we stand--two weeks have passed, emotions have been put on physical display, and our eponymous hero is nowhere to be seen. Stay tuned for more gripping episodes of the most enjoyable Mark Trail saga ever.