Pages 248-357 (MSPA: 2148-2257)
Act 2, Part 1 of 5
Where John’s house ended up.
Act 2 of Homestuck opens up by skipping years in the future, but not many (if 413 years can be deemed as “not many”), to a post-apocalyptic desert Earth. A certain black-colored being referred to as a “wayward vagabond” walks across the desert and comes across some kind of device with the arc symbol spirograph logo. Then, Rose starts her Sburb walkthrough with her trademark nigh inscrutable purple prose, with the standing-out quote: “Since you are reading this, chances are you have installed this game on your computer already. If this is true, like many others, you have just participated in bringing about the end of the world.” Shit just got real.
THEN, we see what happened to John. In a rather chilling animation, we learn that his house now stands atop a pillar of rock within a dark realm above a gray layer of clouds. And THEN, the kernelsprite becomes a floating blue clown ghost, and John hears a voice in his head (soon after revealed to be the Vagabond) say “BOY”. In my second read-through, I first thought that voice was the clown sprite. And after that, we have the comic’s first walkaround game as John explores his house and the voice in his head comments on everything, with the narration responding to its comments. Every so often Homestuck will have a walkaround game of some sort; those are one of several features that make Homestuck really unique.
Walkaround games in Homestuck often help summarize stuff that would otherwise take up massive stretches of pages. This walkaround is an example of that, since from John and his head voice’s exposition of his house we gather that John’s father went missing, that there’s mysterious oil everywhere in his house, and that the electricity is still working, instead of having to cover it in a long sequence of pages. For another example, take the trio of walkarounds with all the pre-scratch trolls (called Openbound). In those three minigames alone, we learn a large portion of what we know of their backstory, and we learn all we need to know about all but two of those other twelve trolls, instead of wasting hundreds of pages getting to know ten minor characters.
The mayor commanding John.
Anyway, we soon learn that the voice in John’s head is the Wayward Vagabond (later referred to as WV or the Mayor) typing in some kind of command station. Rose, meanwhile, tries to prototype something into John’s sneaky clown sprite, and his grandmother’s ashes end up spilled into the sprite, creating Nannasprite and bringing his departed grandmother back to life. Next, Rose tries to get the car up so John can get his other Sburb disc (along with his present from Jade), but she loses connection and the car falls, which is just one step in an entirely separate chain of events (i.e. Liv Tyler).
So then Jade talks to John about the explosion she heard, and mentions a certain “Bec” for the first time; from her line “but bec doesnt want me to go near it” we can deduce that Bec is probably some kind of guardian. Jade also tells him “if anyone can save the world i think it is probably you!”, which might make you wonder, why does she think that? Maybe you’ll suspect something’s up with her, and as it turns out, there sure as hell is. John also asks Dave to get his Sburb discs and get Rose into the game, but Dave says he lost his discs in an embarrassing sequence of events and will have to get his brother’s discs. Rose, meanwhile, picks needles as her strife specibus, reads a book about eldritch abominations, and gets ready for an encounter with her mother, but just then we get a scene switch to our third kid, Dave Strider.
There’s this really cool dude, ok?
So far, Dave isn’t exactly the most likable guy. From what we see, he’s obsessed with acting too cool for anything ever, doesn’t care about what he should care about, and is really into doing so using what he calls “irony”. In the pages preceding his introduction, it’s shoved right in your face how obnoxious he likes to act. We later learn that deep down he cares about people much more than he lets on, which is perhaps best exemplified in his birthday letter to John, but his guardian’s negative influence induces him to crank his too-cool-for-school persona to extra-high gear. For instance, he won’t admit that he wears his sunglasses out of appreciation of John who gave them to him rather than for irony’s sake. This makes his subsequent character development—which he gets the most of out of the four kids to the point of criticism—all the better. Many readers love him very much because having these insecurities is part of his deal, and such insecurities can make for a very relatable or compelling character. But in my opinion Dave’s insecurities are often played too far; for instance, at one point he gives this whole ramble about sexuality and masculinity stuff and how he was supposedly REALLY repressive about it though we hardly knew about that until then, as if it wasn’t enough for him to feel like his guardian was the world’s biggest asshole and struggle with the concept of being a hero. But when he’s his usual flippant self, especially when he’s still being honest about his thoughts on the world, I do like his character quite a lot.
Enough character analysis for now. What maze of ludicrously clumsy bullfuckery will Dave fall ass backwards into? First, we see John and Dave’s first conversation in the comic from Dave’s point of view, starting with finding apple juice (his favorite drink to this day) in his closet. Their movie babble makes a lot more sense now, and we suddenly understand everything. Dave browses the Internet, introducing us to his legendary intentionally terrible comic Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff. Hussie has stated that SBaHJ was created as something the kids can reference as in-jokes and memes. Dave then talks to Rose in a conversation which consists mainly of exchanging sarcastic remarks, with highlights such as Rose’s line, “Sometimes I wonder how you are ever allowed to pay for meals in restaurants. It must be hard to keep a low profile when you’re always overhearing awed voices whisper, ‘It’s that guy who has a blog.’ “ It’s the conversation I talked about in my first post where Rose tries to push him into playing the game by teasing him about sexuality, and like I mentioned, Dave’s sexuality is made as a really big deal much later on, which in my opinion is weird because no other character’s sexuality has been made anywhere near as big of a deal (closest by far is Dirk who was “gay from the start”), but I’ll discuss that later. Their interactions give some the impression that Dave and Rose are a potential romantic pairing, which is of course later crushed by the revelation that they are siblings separated at birth. Oh yeah, what exactly happens in that conversation? Rose tries to get Dave to play Sburb, and Dave says that he only will if her life actually depends on playing that dumb game. To be brief, that happens.
WV commands John to stop doing nothing, a command that made me chuckle possibly in all 3 of my read-throughs, definitely in my first one and in this one, maybe in my second. John investigates a leak of the still mysterious oil, but before we see where the oil’s coming from, we switch back to Dave so we can see what sylladex mishaps led to the loss of his Sburb betas. Sudden scene switches like this are business as usual in Homestuck. Anyway, a crow flies into Dave’s room on top of his juice-stained betas which are hanging on a wire, and he accidentally kills the bird, leaving both the bird and betas on a neighboring apartment building to remain there forever and definitely not come back again later. Dave now has to look for his brother’s Sburb discs.
See you next time as John’s ghostly grandmother explains what the hell is going on and Rose explores the rest of her house.