Pages 138-247 (MSPA: 2038-2147)
Act 1, Part 3 of 3
NEW: Link to rewritten version (I recommend you read it instead of this post)
A weird game indeed.
Where were we? John just installed Sburb, and bam, he and Rose can now play it. Immediately you’ll notice a glaring oddity of the game: it lets Rose mess around with John’s house from afar in a Sims-inspired game interface. It’s already obvious that Sburb is not an ordinary game. The first thing Rose does is accidentally move John’s magic chest to his roof. Then she starts deploying a bunch of weird devices around John’s house as she talks to him about the game. What the hell is going on here you wonder loudly.
John installs Pesterchum on his father’s PDA so that he can talk to friends on the go, and he talks to Jade again. Not much remarkable from that conversation, except for the ending: Jade talks about an explosion she heard outside her house. Later it’s revealed that there’s more to that conversation than meets the eye: it was Jade’s dream self pestering him, and the explosion came from a Skaian cloud vision of the meteor carrying the frog temple and her omnipotent dog impacting paleozoic Earth. But she withholds that kind of information from him for a while for no good reason, which is yet another recurring theme in Homestuck.
you can see me, right.
tell me what is wrong with this picture.
Rose talks about how she keeps losing her Internet connection, and mentions her mother for the first time—her relationship with her mother will be first discussed later in this post. John and Rose continue to work together as Rose figures stuff out from the rather worrying GameFAQs walkthroughs other people made. Oh yeah, and Rose helps John open the cruxtruder device with his sledgehammer, releasing his kernelsprite which gets prototyped with that clown doll, continuing that huge universe-destruction chain of events.
Then, an important thing happens: John sees a meteor in the sky headed for his own house. Also, his father comes home, confused as to why there’s a toilet with a cake in it in his backyard. Then John talks to Rose and Dave about that meteor headed towards his house, and he describes his situation to Dave as “kind of a nightmare”. Rose gives him advice and decides to make her own walkthrough, Dave says that John shouldn’t play that game, and John sneaks around childishly avoiding his father.
Now before we go on and meet Rose, I’m going to do a bit of a recap of all this Sburb stuff. So far, we know the following: Rose clearly wants to play through and figure out the deal with that game. John has similar motives, wanting to figure out the deal with the game he thought would be so awesome to play with his friends. Dave, meanwhile, doesn’t think that he or his friends should play the game even though he and his brother both have copies. Jade, who we so far know very little about, doesn’t even seem to know about the game. Ironically, it’s later revealed that Jade unknowingly plays the biggest role in causing this whole crazy adventure to happen because of those prophetic dreams which manipulate her into causing the events meant to occur.
A young lady stands in her bedroom…
Now we finally meet our second main character, Rose Lalonde, in a rehashing of John’s introduction. Right off the bat she and John are both given some silly commands, most of which are refused. As she explores her house, we quickly get hints that she has a rather backwards view of her mother’s motives: she thinks everything her mother does (e.g. holding a huge funeral for her cat) is to spite her, while it’s later made obvious that it’s out of overt affection, as she herself comes to realize much later. She also sees meteors (plural) outside her house from her telescope.
John, meanwhile, is in peril, thinking that he’ll probably be dead no matter what. Rose advises him to go to his balcony to make a blue apple with the alchemiter machine. In the end-of-act-1 flash, he bites into this apple the second the meteor blows up his neighborhood, and the curtains close in on an explosion. It’s highly unlikely that our thus-far protagonist won’t survive the explosion somehow, but his neighborhood blowing up is still a nice way to end the first chapter of a work of Internet fiction.
So what do we get out of the first act of Homestuck? We learn about the video game mechanics that govern much of Homestuck’s world, and we get to know the outlandish workings of the mysterious and troubling game called Sburb. We get characterization of John as the ordinary protagonist, and Rose as his advisor friend. Dave and Jade, at this point both unnamed, have little role in the story so far outside of being John’s other two friends. Alongside that, John’s father appears as his bland but caring guardian, and Rose’s supposedly spiteful mother is discussed and makes a brief appearance, not to mention Dave bringing up his brother, the ashes and picture of John’s grandmother, and the narration’s mention of Jaspers.
One thing that’s very open to speculation is the deal with the Sburb players who are not our story’s heroes. Rose claims that none of their walkthroughs go further than the point of the meteor hitting their house. This implies that maybe the meteors obliterated them because they were not the four teenagers fated to play the game, and maybe their only purpose was to create walkthroughs on GameFAQs to help John and friends get through Sburb? That would be kind of depressing if true. Furthermore, there are many connections between Earth or the universe in general and our heroes, e.g. they are the four humans the trolls who created their universe can contact, Jack Noir from their session destroys their universe, there’s ample evidence that their guardians created Sburb, and so on. On the other hand, Rose explains in Act 6 Intermission 2 during one of the comic’s many exposition dumps (which I’ll have to read through again when I get there) that each universe has numerous Sburb sessions, the majority of which are doomed to fail. Plus, there’s the mystery of fedorafreak, an Earth inhabitant who is strongly implied to have started a separate session of Sburb, possibly along with his business friends as suggested by Hussie on his Formspring, but even then his ultimate fate is left to the reader’s imagination. It’s probably best to go by Rose’s exposition in Act 6 Intermission 2 regarding all those other Sburb sessions, which is obviously something I’ll go over much later.
Overall, act one of Homestuck is a good example of a “dull first chapter” so to speak. “Dull” here means that it doesn’t have much action, or emotional moments, or massive plot going down. Don’t be misled by that last point though, since Act 1 is sprinkled with a good scoop of Chekhov’s guns—the explosion heard by Jade, the bunny gifted by Dave, the doll prototyped by Rose, and the meteors storming down by we-don’t-know-what-yet. As I’ve said before, I don’t really have qualms about Homestuck’s first act being “uneventful” because it’s nice to have a good amount of time to set the stage for the story.
See you next time in Act 2 as John is haunted by voices, creatures, and darkness in the mysterious world he entered. Let me know what you think of this post series so far in the comments.