Intermission, Part 2 of 2
Pages 1265-1357 (MSPA: 3165-3257)
Continuing from where we left off, Spades Slick jumps to a timeline where Crowbar, the Felt’s least stupid guy, is alive. His subordinates are battling three Felt members. Then Snowman (8) makes her debut in the intermission’s only sound page. She teleports to Slick and stabs him in the eye, talking onscreen as she does that, the most incredible ability of any character in this intermission so far. We learn that if you kill her you destroy the universe (reference to the 8-ball in pool), which is why everyone stops shooting their guns when she’s around. There’s a few interesting things about Snowman’s debut flash. First, she is shown to be a somewhat mystical lady, being able to teleport by phasing through existence. I think we are to assume Doc Scratch gave her that ability, given that he made it so that if you kill her you destroy the universe, but it seems a little weird for him to just give her abilities like that. Carapacians generally aren’t able to teleport around like that. Also, Slick lets Snowman stab his eye like that. What’s that about?
Anyway, next we demonstrate the ridiculously dumb special power of the obese Sawbuck (10): if you hurt him, you and he are taken to a random point in time. Slick uses Sawbuck to go the past, kills Stitch, and then ends up teleported way to the past when he was an exile in the at the time barren Alternia. Then Sawbuck takes him to the future in which the fight we saw never happened and only Hearts is there. He puts Crowbar, Sawbuck, and Stitch’s corpse in his war chest with Boxcars’ help, and goes back to the original timeline. He uses Sawbuck to go back in time and meet this timeline’s Sawbuck. Crowbar and the other Sawbuck exchange bullets and zap around time, and then Slick meets his past self from before he removed Crowbar’s pin. Past Spades Slick (PSS) is about to ask Future Spades Slick (FSS) what happened to his eye but FSS disappears. PSS does a bunch of stuff we already saw, and it’s clarified that the stuff with him and his future self happened while we were watching someone else.
Slick uses Sawbuck to go to a point in the future where Crowbar and both Sawbucks have been decapitated, then goes back and decapitates all three in one of the bloodiest panels in Homestuck. He catches up with Droog, who is with Deuce and Stitch. Droog gets Stitch to fix Slick’s eye using his effigies. Slick goes over and pretends to joust with his set of weapons, but Snowman catches him being ridiculous, and he’s embarrassed. You may wonder, is something going on between them? Some people might catch on and guess they have some kind of hate romance, which is of course true; black romance is a concept that recent updates have gone into quite a lot, especially pushing John and Terezi as an example of one, but I’ll get to that a little later when the two first converse.
My favorite death in the intermission, by far.
Diamonds and Clubs meet up with Hearts and they all get swarmed in Eggs and Biscuits clones. Then Slick charges and kills the “real” Stitch. He saves his subordinates by whacking Eggs’s timer with Crowbar’s crowbar, leaving one Eggs and one Biscuits. Hearts goes for the cannibalistic and eats Eggs’s head off. Nobody seems to think it’s weird, just thinking, yup, Boxcars just ate someone’s head off. Later John would zap to this scene and comment that it’s completely useless to history, and I find it weird that Hussie didn’t put in a little John retcon at that page or something. Ah well, still an awesome scene, and the only useful thing any iteration of Boxcars does. Then, Biscuits hides in his oven, which is described as not having special time properties, but it’s then confusingly implied otherwise by the narration’s line, “You set the bomb to go off in a few seconds, when both it and Biscuits are released from it in a few hours.” As it turns out, Biscuits’ oven is actually useful for storing a lot of things in a small space, which Slick much later does with all of the Felt’s leprechauns and a few other characters. Clubs puts a bomb in the oven and leaves the scene, so that a few hours later Biscuits will get blown up. Slick is about to pry the safe open. Clover asks him to reconsider and hits on him some more, leprechaun style. I wonder if the dancing and riddles and whatnot in leprechaun romance was actually inspired by the stuff Clover did. Also, Diamonds fails to kill Clover because he’s so lucky.
Then Cans (15), the biggest member of the Felt, makes a dramatic entrance, and punches Droog and Boxcars both into the future, into a grocery store and into a horse calendar respectively. Slick pries that safe open and enters a timeline where among the Midnight Crew and the numbered members of the Felt, only he and Snowman are still alive. Weirdly, Slick has never mentioned his subordinates at all since then—especially weird because I think that with Die’s doll, it’s perfectly possible for him to bring back his teammates. Anyway, he arrives in Lord English’s vault he intended to open. He gets ready to scan the bar code printed on both his arm and his card, but Snowman appears, shooting the card, ripping off his arm, and locking him inside so that he’s stuck there. Slick solves the problem by flipping his sprite, and enters the vault.
Before we go on, I’d like to note that now that we know who Lord English is, there’s a lot of open questions about his vault—why exactly did he put it there for Slick? I think what’s most likely is that Caliborn likes Jack Noir (having used his session’s and the alpha kids’ session’s iterations of him for his good), and thus hoped to use the trolls’ Jack Noir (Spades Slick) to his advantage as well. But why would he built the secret vault on top of a command station? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think we know much of what Slick did with the trolls as an exile, since he commands Karkat only at the end of the intermission and at one point in the trolls’ arc when he tells Karkat how much he hates everyone, and eventually manages to somehow escape the station, get a robotic eye and arm, and travel to the green moon to enter Scratch’s apartment, all offscreen. What we do know is that his past self helped the trolls exile the black queen (later known as Snowman), who in turn used Terezi and Vriska to exile Jack Noir. Maybe Caliborn just hoped that directing yet another version of the useful stabby guy to a command station might help him; he’s been established not to be particularly intelligent but incredibly persistent.
This guy again?
Been a long time.
In the vault there is a command station in which Slick can view Karkat, who he recognizes. I wonder how he’ll react to seeing him again in the B2 session, or how Karkat would react to reuniting with his session’s Jack Noir who he saw as a friend. This is the very first physical appearance of a troll. We take a closer look at this gray guy with horns and a Cancer zodiac shirt, and from the shirt symbol you might be able to deduce that he must be the gray text guy who trolled Jade. I’ve seen readers have various reactions to this. Some will connect the dots and figure this must be from the session the trolls played, and maybe even that Slick is their Jack Noir; some will just think “what the hell is going on”; some will recognize the trolls as being from Homestuck because they’ve seen pictures of them around; and some will recognize the trolls, but not know that they’re from Homestuck until now. My reaction in my first read-through was closest to the third. Before we learn much about that alien guy, the intermission ends.
So what do we get out of the intermission? In a nutshell, it’s a stretch of enjoyable but seemingly irrelevant content that concludes with a teaser proving to us that it actually is relevant to the plot. It is so much more action-packed than acts 1-3 of Homestuck, or a large portion of the whole comic for that matter, and it is unique in that it serves largely to foreshadow the future, underhandedly feeding us bits and pieces of the deal with the trolls’ session. Unlike most of the rest of Homestuck, the intermission has fairly little dialogue, mostly in the form of “you say blah blah blah, he says blah blah blah”. It also isn’t too heavy on characterization: the main characterization we get is using Spades Slick to give readers a sense of personality for Jack Noir, and we also get something of a personality for his subordinates, counterparts of the other three Derse agents. But it’s a pretty enjoyable stretch of pages nonetheless. The intermission took up two weeks worth of updates between the end of Act 3 and the start of Act 4, which is exactly what I’ll be covering in the next post, so see you next time as John explores the planet he entered, Jade messes with Dave’s house, and the exiles have a cookout.