Pages 952-1051 (MSPA: 2852-2951)
Act 3, Part 3 of 4
Who’s this guy?
At the curb of act 3’s halfway point, we meet the main villain of the first half of Homestuck. He looks like the Problem Sleuth extra Spades Slick, but he is actually Derse’s archagent, Jack Noir. He has great trouble dealing with John’s extra-strong father, and his fourth wall was stolen some time ago. We learn parts of what’s been going on at the kingdom: after Mr. Egbert was kidnapped, the queen made everyone dress like clowns, and Jack Noir can’t stand that. Is there any specific reason for him hating clowns like there is for all Dersites having an intense aversion to frogs? It really doesn’t look like it, though it does become extremely relevant to the plot when Jack flips out and fucks shit up. Maybe it’s like John’s hatred of Betty Crocker—hating it for no good reason. A lot of stuff in real life looks to me like hating stuff for no good reason—I often hear people talking about how much they hate things I know about but don’t really have an opinion about.
Jack Noir orders his muscular agent, the yet unnamed Hegemonic Brute, to the scene. Many will notice that he looks like Hearts Boxcars, serving to make the resemblance to the Midnight Crew extra obvious to those who know about it. John’s father beats up the Brute, and Jack decides to handle this mess himself.
The first outfit change in Homestuck.
Then we switch to John. He opens up some more birthday presents from his father. The first one is a fetch modus control deck, plus a special surprise: a non-idiotic array fetch modus! He finds it boring though, and combines his queue, stack, and array fetch modi. Many people will think, why the hell would you do that, John? Anyway, his next present is a box of delicious Fruit Gushers. Even better is his biggest box: a fancy suit to wear around. John is as happy as can be with his new cool birthday presents, until he finds the dark secret of Fruit Gushers: they are made by Betty Crocker. His view of the world shatters around him. This is all a dream, this is all a dream, this is all a dream.
Then Jade has her real guardian strife: in an interactive sequence, she strifes her dog, who has all kinds of crazy powers, in order to get her package from John which she will have sent through time. Bec warps her around her island, and we glimpse flashes of some kind of green sun. What kind of dog is this?! It’s easy to forget that he warps Jade around various locations around her friends’ homes, which makes me wonder, has anyone remarked such a thing, like glimpsing Jade outside their house for a split second? She feeds Bec an irradiated steak and dances with cheerful victory music playing, heavily contrasting against the tribal drum music used in the flash. Then she suddenly falls asleep. Bec carries her and puts her in bed.
Rose is now in what seems to be her mother’s room. All it has is cabinets of wine and a transportalizer to the lab, in which one can find a fluffy bed with cat and wizard plushes. This serves as a pretty good indicator of the weirdness level of her household; among the four kids, each one has a generally weirder life than the previous, with Rose falling under “kind of weird”. I think that the whole section of her exploring the Skaianet lab serves partly to underhandedly give readers a feel for what her mom is like. Interestingly, it’s never outright stated that her mother is wrapped up in all this (though it is made pretty obvious), only that Rose finds all the stuff in the lab to be bizarre. Rose’s mom may well be the most mysterious of the kids’ guardians, given that the stuff the narration does explicitly state about her is clearly inaccurate, and if what Roxy is like is anything to go by, she’s probably not at all the kind of person Rose purports her to be. I’ll get back to this topic in the following act. Anyway, a meteor then destroys the lab near her house, and she has to escape the burning alcohol room. John goes downstairs to prepare to alchemize stuff. After a whopping one (1) page focusing on him, we have to see what Jade is dreaming about.
There is not much to realize.
Of course you can fly.
Jade lucid dreams in a pink and yellow colored version of her bedroom. I never, ever, ever have lucid dreamed, where I know I’m dreaming and can do fun shit in the dream world by my own will. It sounds so awesome to have dreams like that, but no, instead I dream about running around school naked in a panic to find some respectable clothes while everyone else is confused as to why I’m panicking. Dream Jade can fly and has a dreambot who mimics her dream self’s actions. I remember flying in a few of my dreams, but it’s not really floating around, more like soaring through the sky in a horizontal position. She looks at her birthday package from John, but already knows what’s inside.
Then we have a months-past flashback in which John talks to Jade on her birthday. We see that his posters suddenly have clown scribbles—what the hell? She and John talk about the trolls. Jade says that there are twelve of them, and says that she had to tell one of them to go away. She says that they sometimes get past her block filter and that some of them are pretty funny (which ones? pre-flipout Gamzee with his clown religion and his weird grammar? Nepeta with her roleplay stuff?). John says that he will change his chumhandle to ditch the trolls, but as it turns out, nothing gets past them. I think the software on the computers the trolls find was specifically designed by whoever to automatically override all block filters because they are destined to help our heroes out (or hit on them, which half of them do).
John goes back to his room, and he sees posters defaced with clown graffiti. How did they get there? He thinks it’s imps, but they were there months ago. Rose also goes back to her room with the mutant cat, and talk to John about his brain problems. She reveals that they were there all along, and that she thought John defaced them to mock his father’s interests. John doesn’t take her seriously, and gets angry about that weird “prank”. I really like this panel, in which he slams his fingers on the keyboard with an angry face while wearing his new white suit, like an angry little businessman.
The process of four kids becoming friends, in action.
Then we switch to the exiles. We haven’t seen the Vagabond in a while. He is stuck on top of his command station which now sits near the frog temple, and he can’t find a way down, having used up all the cables. The exile side-story might be the part of Homestuck where reader-driven commands are most evident. In WV’s section of Act 2, it’s suggested that he uses his urine as paint. And now, it’s suggested that he appearifies the frog temple, which he declines. Hell, the whole gimmick of him being a mayor was entirely from a reader-driven command, which would lead to each exile having their own obsession being a thing; this means that if not for readers, WV wouldn’t be referred to by all the characters as the Mayor. As a side note, I wonder if Jade will ever recognize him as the person she sent letters to in order to send a package through time. We see that inside a spire near the temple, someone is letting out some cable. WV tries to appearify the cable but appearifies Jade’s package instead. Then he appearifies the cable and goes down, carrying the package with a letter to him from Jade, instructing him to send the present through time. Our third exile, the Aimless Renegade, has been lurking around in the frog temple. He catches a glimpse of PM’s station flying towards the temple, and WV descending from his station.
John talks to Rose about his discovered clown graffiti which was there the whole time. Rose then holds an impromptu psychotherapy session with him. John explains that he thought that his dad’s room would be full of clowns, but it wasn’t. She says that he must have subconsciously made the clown drawings, and didn’t know about them until his view of his father changed. She goes on to explain that John’s father thought his son liked clowns and littered his house with them, and as they talk, John makes a bunny sassacre fedora. Then she shows her progress on building up John’s house. I’d like to say something about that sequence: first off, it’s interesting how Rose figures out John’s father’s motives in no time flat but is blind to her mother’s motives; second, John’s reaction to Rose being about to psychoanalyze him is pretty much “oh no, you’re doing the therapy thing”. I especially like John’s reaction to Rose’s stereotypical therapist line:
TT: I don’t like to use the word “crazy”.
EB: oh god.
EB: see?? this is therapy bullshit!
Prospit in full view.
Back to Jade: Jade’s dream self somehow grows three extra arms and plays an advanced solo on her appropriately expanded electric bass. This is another example of early installment weirdness: not once more does someone undergo such unexplained bodily mutations, not even in dreams. There is no explanation for how Jade got those extra arms, and she smiles as she gets those arms like it’s no big deal. Even her dreambot, which her grandpa built, grows those arms. How does that happen?! In any case, watching a multi-armed Jade casually play complex music on a super multi-keyboard bass brings a smile to my face. There’s one mistake in that flash which I caught with my perfect pitch skills: she presses the keys E E E E G C on the keyboard, but the music plays E E E E G D. The flash concludes with a zoom-out to reveal that Jade dreams in a place called Prospit, the light kingdom orbiting Skaia. This means that Jade’s dreams are not only in a physical location, but also in the same realm John entered. Jade explores the golden city below the tower in which she dreams, which is shaped exactly like her house. We see plenty of white beings, and what looks to be the Peregrine Mendicant wearing different clothing? What’s that all about?
WV also sees the mail lady outside her station, which arrived to where he and the other guy are. He reads Jade’s letter, which tells him to go to her and give her the package. One weird thing I noticed about the letter is that she draws arrows as “==>”. Why is that? It takes a lot longer to draw than a regular arrow →. I guess it’s a connection to “==>” being used to advance a page. Also, AR grabs his gun and shoots near the other two exiles for some reason. The mayor scoots over to the mail lady, can’t help but look at her every few seconds (is she attractive but the pictures don’t show it?), and gives her the package, with a letter telling her what to do to send the package back in time
Dream Jade goes over to her neighboring tower, in which we see a sleeping John wearing a similar outfit to Jade’s yellow pajamas. She chooses not to disturb him since he will wake up when he’s “ready”, whatever that means. We learn that Prospit’s moon is about to have an eclipse, and I’ll end this post here, right before John’s alchemy binge. I covered exactly 100 pages in this post.
See you next time as loose ends are tied together along the drive to the conclusion of Homestuck’s third act.