Pages 666-758 (MSPA: 2566-2658)
Act 2, Part 5 of 5
You are now the Wayward Vagabond.
Last time, we saw Dave exploring his puppet-filled living room and John making a rad pogo hammer. Now we get to know the bizarre being commanding John. The Wayward Vagabond is given commands much like the kids are, but we see some differences between him and the kids. Aside from the obvious fact that he’s not a human, he doesn’t have a sylladex, instead picking stuff up with his bare hands. He screws around in his command station, just like how the kids all screw around in their houses. He makes a city out of cans (the eponymous Can Town), and he fantasizes about being the mayor of the town.
The Vagabond’s section of act 2 is practically nothing but a load of foreshadowing and Chekhov’s guns. In his station, there’s the machine which would be much later used by Jack Noir to go to the trolls’ session, there’s the uranium which is needed to fuel it, there’s technology to send items through time, and so on. There are also four items on the left area of the station, each connecting to one of the four kids: oil for John, chalk for Rose, amber (with a firefly trapped inside) for Dave, and uranium for Jade. Oil and chalk tie into John’s and Rose’s planets respectively; Dave has a collection of dead things encased in amber; and uranium connects to Jade’s affinity for bizarre sciences.
WV continues building Can Town, and makes a chessboard next to it, symbolizing the chess battle Nannasprite talked about. He also makes a mayor sash from a mayo label and a drawn-on R; he wears this sash for the whole rest of the comic. He then draws several planets in the sky on his wall: as it turns out, what he is drawing is the kids’ incipisphere itself, with Prospit, the four planets, and Derse. He looks at the screen, presses Tab, and out comes a bunch of cans of Tab soda, which he drinks merrily. He adds those Tab cans to his village and then examines the operating system of his command system. It has screens to view all four kids, and we see the list of commands he types, preceded by some commands in green that someone else must have entered. Andrew Hussie said in Homestuck Book 2 about those commands, “I think of those early commands in green as some things that were entered as test cases while this station was being built. I like to picture a mild mannered carapacian in a lab coat just running through the drill, making sure the terminal checks out. Then he gives it a thumbs up, and the thing just sits inside a meteor for a while, crashes into Earth, and waits centuries for this bozo to show up and fuck around with the keyboard.“
A literal early-bird cameo.
WV then checks out Rose’s and Dave’s screens. On Rose’s screen, we see a slightly damaged handless version of her wizard statue against a white background; this serves to inform us that WV’s station stands where Rose’s house once stood as indicated by the statue’s hand near his station seen in the act’s concluding flash. Dave’s screen tells us way in advance that (1) he’s gonna have that bird he accidentally killed prototyped in his sprite, (2) Lil’ Cal will be ripped apart, (3) his sword will break in half (which Dave much later remarks happens way too often), and (4) his shirt symbol will also break in half. This means that we already know what three of the four kids have or will have prototyped: John has the clown doll, Rose has Jaspers (revealed in advance when she talked to Jade in a flashback), Dave has the bird, but Jade’s is not revealed until it’s actually prototyped much later, and it fucks shit up. WV decides against turning on Jade’s screen (obviously teasing readers about wanting to know the deal with the fourth kid). He then switches the screens to home, and there’s yet another countdown, this time 4 hours and 13 minutes.
The guy spends four hours making and playing a chess game out of those cans, which is pretty blatant symbolism, not only paralleling the chess stuff we learned about in Nanna’s exposition dump, but also suggesting that he has something to do with the whole chess battle, which he sure as hell does. Then the second desert wanderer, the Peregrine Mendicant, makes her first appearance. WV goes to another room in his station which contains a map of Earth and of the kids’ incipisphere. The technology in this room is used in the story to introduce the recurring concept of appearifying objects and paradox slime, which is, among other things, how the heroes of the story were made. WV uses a piece of technology to appearify the pumpkin which we glimpsed near Jade in the psycheout between Dave confronting his brother at the roof and the story switching to WV’s perspective. He then appearifies some other stuff from the other room, and appearifies the firefly Serenity out of the amber. He gathers all his stuff in a pumpkin to leave, and then comes the big flash that concludes Act 2 of Homestuck, [S] WV: Ascend. Here’s a quick summary of the flash:
- WV’s command station blasts out of some tube and flies to a whole new location in which there is some frog temple, built over many years in prehistoric times;
- a tree command station gradually grows where John’s house once stood;
- Rose’s mother opens a passageway to let her daughter into the lab near their house;
- John’s father (now on Derse) escapes the imps who kidnapped him;
- and Dave confronts his brother who appears in full view.
It’s often considered to be the comic’s first truly stunning animation, what really captivates readers. It has two large-scale timelapses, cool renditions of landscapes, and dramatic music. It even gives us the coordinates for John’s, Rose’s, and Jade’s homes. However, it may also seem rather cryptic, which is why it’s not unheard of for readers to watch the animation through multiple times. This cryptic feel is typical of big flashes like this, but you’ll gradually get over it and make sense of those animations more easily.
END OF ACT 2
Recap time: what do we get out of the second act of Homestuck? It’s a great deal more plot-filled than Act 1 is. In Act 1, we didn’t have much plot going down other than the Sburb interface and the notion of meteors raining down on Earth. In Act 2, however, we are introduced to numerous concepts regarding Homestuck’s mechanics, like the desert wanderers commanding players, all of Nannasprite’s exposition (where John went, the chess battle, the Seven Gates and Skaia, the light and dark kingdoms), the imps John must fight, more mechanics of Sburb like the system for alchemizing objects, Jade’s unexplained foresight, appearification technology, and so on. I’d say that the three things Act 2 follows the most are John’s experience in the game of Sburb, Dave in general, and the actions of the mysterious Wayward Vagabond.
Despite the large amount of plot points in Act 2, a lot of the act is just as silly as Act 1 is. Emotional moments are barely there at all until Act 4, like John remembering his letter from Dave and promptly reconsidering going off to his seventh gate, or John reading his gleeful letter from Jade about how she’s so excited to show him around Prospit after seeing that her dream self died and that the whole planet was destroyed. There aren’t any real “wow” moments in the first two acts either except for the animation that concludes Act 2.
Before I end this post, I’d like to say stuff about John’s and Rose’s characters. I did give a summary of Dave’s character when we were introduced to him, but I didn’t do the same for the first two main characters. I said in my first post that I’ll discuss how lovable John is later, and now’s a pretty good time for character summary.
John Egbert is thus far the ordinary nerdy goofball protagonist of Homestuck. He has many traits typical to protagonists of stories: he has the fewest outstanding quirks, he is the first one to do several things (enter the game, start making cool weapons, ascend to god tier), and he is almost always straight to the point and good-hearted, not to mention naive at times. In the first two acts he is mostly portrayed as being kind of goofy, but later he is shown to be seriously good-hearted and an exceptionally lovable guy, which makes him my favorite character in Homestuck. I mean, look at his birthday letters to his friends (especially to Dave), or even better, his interactions with Vriska (which I’ll be analyzing quite heavily). His dynamic with Vriska is one of the most interesting in the comic, with how he fluctuates between respecting and disliking her as the story progresses; his current opinion of her as of the Omegapause is a decent balance of both in my opinion.
Rose Lalonde, the second main character, is very likable from the start. I would say that the most defining thing about her is that she knows what’s up. She knows what to take seriously (like the deal with Sburb), helps John out in a rather admirable almost big-sisterly manner, deduces many things regarding the game, and takes a passion in analyzing others’ motives and quirks—though she does have blind spots in her knowledge, like her mother’s motives, or the point of there being a ridiculous cat version of her. She chooses not to be openly affectionate the way John and Jade are, and the way Dave sometimes lets it slip that he is. Her friends tend to see her as kind of unusual but strangely enjoyable; other people talking to her (the trolls to be specific) aren’t too keen on her, with the exception of Kanaya, who fangirled over her when she found her walkthrough and would go on to become exceptionally close to her.
I gave Dave Strider a character summary on my fourth post, but I’ll briefly sum up his role in act 2 as follows: from what we know, he is pretty much the kid who tries way too hard to be cool, doesn’t seriously care about much, and has a super messed-up home life. Jade, meanwhile, is still mysterious, and we don’t know much about her other than that she inexplicably has some knowledge of the future, and just as inexplicably withholds that knowledge from John.
I think that’s enough recap of the second act of Homestuck. See you next time as we open act 3 and get to know our last and strangest main character, Jade Harley.