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Act 4, Part 5 of 6
Pages 1777-1908 (MSPA: 3677-3808)
I use this same picture later in this post but it’s such a great panel that I’ll use it as a title picture.
I’ve seen people comment that this guy looks like some weirdo from Adventure Time.*
* If you’re wondering, about 3-4 years ago I followed that show, but then I quit, and from what I hear about it, it really got kind of weird. There’s stuff about the punky vampire girl not wanting to be a vampire anymore??? Sounds like she’s a character with complications and stuff, which ties in with the fact that I’ve seen people compare her to Vriska.
Last post we went over a whole bunch of stuff, like angry guys killing their bosses because of stupid clothes and girls throwing F1 keys at guys with 3-D glasses and demonic puppets miraculously landing on lightning-fast rocket boards and that sort of stuff. Now we get to watch AR? rocking it out on Bro’s rocket board through an asteroid belt. PM? is also up to stuff, getting ready to board a shuttle to the battlefield to find the white king. Then a clone of Clubs Deuce in a ridiculous outfit known as the Courtyard Droll appears and steals the magic ring. I really like how this bozo’s debut is played out, making a dramatic entrance starting with the tip of his crazy hat as he creeps up and steals a ring. He’s really short and could be sneaky, if only he didn’t love crazy hats so much. Nonetheless, he succeeds in stealing the ring. He gets a message from the Draconian Dignitary to give him that ring. In that message, the titles of the other three Derse agents are all revealed, specifically the ones whose acronyms are the same as those of the Midnight Crew. Speaking of the Midnight Crew, this message shows us how each of the quartet of Derse agents is given a different task to do, just like what the Midnight Crew does. This is done even more systematically with the alpha kids’ Derse agents, where each is assigned to kill a kid; funnily enough, the Droll is the only one of those agents who succeeds at his job. Just then, Jade, after over 100 pages without her, has her dream self make a dramatic entrance, beating up the Droll, taking the ring, and putting it on, even though it doesn’t do anything to humans.
At this point we’ve got the gist of all the exiles’ backstories except for the first exile introduced, WV. While the others were the queen, a regular delivery lady, and an everyday policeman respectively, we learn in a flash titled [S] WV?: Rise up that WV was a rebellious soldier who led both the white and black armies against the black king. It’s the first flash that used art made by people other than Hussie, and it’s another one worth a bullet list rundown:
- the battlefield transforms into a cube and then a sphere due to the prototypings;
- the white and black soldiers start fighting each other;
- a farmer who happens to be WV’s past self unites them against the black king;
- the white king gives PM? his crown and scepter but she encounters the Brute who punches the scepter out of her hands;
- Jack Noir appears and beheads the black king;
- and the white king’s scepter falls.
I don’t have too much to say about this flash, other than that a lot of stuff happens in it, it’s a great way to show how dramatic and triumphant WV’s past is and what’s up with the chess battle, and that the anthropomorphic chess pieces are a nice touch and reminder of what this is—pawns, knights, bishops, rooks, and kings all appear in this flash. Who would’ve thought that the cute mayor guy could have such an important backstory? Also, I find it interesting that the black king is killed so unceremoniously—normally he’s Sburb’s final boss, but in this session, a crazed rogue villain shows up and chops his head off. I think this is done to convey just how far off the rails the kids’ Sburb session is.
Above: Good. Below: Way better.
Rose goes on an alchemy binge and makes things like a hubtopband, needlewands, a stylish velvet dress, the Thorns of Oglogoth, and useless things like magnetic wodka or a bronzed vacuumbrella. I’m gonna say again that I really like those sequences where players experiment with the Sburb interface to make cool stuff. The alchemy system is a mechanic that I find particularly appealing, with such features as wizard statues giving objects magical properties. Rose uses her weapons to kick ass with style. Dream Jade builds up Dave’s house to his first gate. Then Dave has an even better alchemy binge.
Dave makes things like iShades, comfy awesome suits, fancy swords, Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff objects, weird puppets, his brain in a jar, and … fuck it, just look at the picture above. The crazy stuff he makes even weirds out those imps, though he somehow keeps a straight face—that’s why I love those moments when he makes faces other than his deadpan expression, like here or here. Dave’s alchemy binge is probably the best out of the four kids, what with the mutant puppets encased in amber and jars and stuff. He then snoops into Rose’s journals: one of them is a genetic code, and the other is an unreadable wizard story.
Rose burns her genetic code journal. Dave asks her about it, thinking that she’s burning her wizard story to spite her mother or some shit rather than doing something the undoubtedly trustworthy elder gods asked her to do. This is where we get to something I quoted back in an Act 2 post: Dave thought until now that Rose hated wizards, and just now knew that she likes them but hates that her mom pretends to like them. For some reason, Dave is the one who gets Mom’s motives right. Davesprite also talks to Rose about the thing with burning the journals, and doubts Rose’s trust in the gods of the Furthest Ring. Rose and Davesprite have a bond from knowing events of the same doomed timeline, although this is the only time they converse, at least plain old Rose and vanilla Davesprite, not the wacky squared sprites.
I can’t think of something more sensible to do with your own corpse.
While Dave and Davesprite discuss how funny it is that Rose doesn’t know that Dave has copies of the books she owns, the Dignitary sneaks into Dave’s room. Dave goes to his room to see the books and beta stolen, and the dead body of his alternate self who traveled back in time to try stopping the thief. Interestingly, he keeps a straight face at the sight of his corpse. He’s pretty lucky to be able to throw his body into lava. I’ve spent some time contemplating what would happen if I saw my body in my room. I don’t happen to live in a building hanging over an active volcano, making this hypothetical situation a little tricky. Maybe I would sacrifice a blanket to hide that thing and hope it doesn’t bleed through. Sollux and Dirk are the only other characters I can think of who saw their own dead bodies in front of them (though for Dirk it’s just his severed head); Sollux’s reaction is asking the trolls to get rid of it, but Dirk just stands there with a straight face because the stuff with his severed head was planned the whole time. I wonder how much of Dave’s straight-face reactions to weird things are actually disregarding it vs. how many are pretending not to freak out.
John goes to the ectobiology lab where he views his and his friends’ guardians around his group’s dates of birth. In a rather nice sequence, John creates ghost imprints of his grandma, Jade’s grandpa, Dave’s brother, and Rose’s mother, and ends up creating them out of their own slime. I like the way the whole sequence of cloning the guardians shows lots of parts of their intertwined backstories, with Rose’s mom working for Jade’s grandpa to go over to the west coast and investigate meteor impacts where John’s dad and nanna lived, Dave’s brother noticing an impact and having a pair of triangular shades ready for baby Dave, baby Jade and her grandpa settling on an island, and how Nanna died (John’s meteor destroying the joke shop she was inside). Dr. Meowgon helps John out and sits on a button which combines the genes in the paradox slime to create John and his friends. And that, my friends, is how the main characters of Homestuck came to be.
I’ll stop and say stuff about the kids’ origin story. First off, I like the way it’s self-fulfilling, like pretty much everything in Homestuck is. The game creates itself through the meteor carrying the frog temple which contains Sburb’s code and seems to always be found by someone created by the game (in this case Jade’s grandpa) and used to make it. The game creating the players ties in with the game’s origin—the players are all either paradox clones or made from those clones. The kids being cloned not from one guardian but each from a pair of guardians is an interesting twist which Hussie did because having a one-to-one guardian-kid cloning correspondence would be too obvious. And more importantly, to crush the hearts of people who shipped John/Jade or Rose/Dave. In any case, the ectobiological relations between the kids and guardians are shown quite strongly in the alpha kids’ traits, with how not only each kid strongly parallels his or her young guardian, but each kid’s young guardian has a noticeable resemblance in personality to the kid’s ecto-sibling. Jake’s resemblance to John is the most blatant, while the other pairs of this kind (Jane/Jade, Roxy/Dave, Dirk/Rose) are also pretty clear. Dirk and Rose are the only such pair who hasn’t interacted yet as of the Omegapause, and I would really like to see an exchange between them.
I love these baby scenes.
Jade’s grandpa rides a ship through the veil towards Skaia, and he ships two passengers overdue for a reunion, in more ways than one. The pun of shipping John’s dad and Rose’s mom is so brilliant I don’t even know what to say. Karkat trolls John, who is now in a lab full of troublemaking babies. At this point it’s pretty clear that Karkat is a lot more angry at John than he was/will be early in Act 4:
CG: YOU BLITHERING FECULENT SHITHOLE.
CG: OK THAT’S YOUR CUE TO LAUGH AT ME SOME MORE I GUESS.
CG: BECAUSE YOU SEEM TO REALLY GET OFF WHENEVER I FLAME YOU.
CG: HUMANS ARE DERANGED.
EB: oh man, i must be getting closer to the conversations where you’re trolling me harder!
EB: this is pretty exciting, i can’t wait to see what you’ve got up your sleeve.
CG: YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN??? FUCK YOU ABOUT THAT.
Karkat reveals to John that he just created himself, his friends, and their guardians. He also says stuff about that Ultimate Riddle Nannasprite talked about:
CG: IT’S NOT EVEN THAT GREAT.
CG: OR EVEN MUCH OF A RIDDLE AT ALL.
CG: IN THE COURSE OF YOUR ADVENTURE YOU WOULD HAVE ENCOUNTERED ALL THESE FRAGMENTS OF LIKE WEIRD POEMS AND SHIT.
CG: YOU FIND THEM ALONG YOUR QUESTS, WITH CLUES AND STUFF BURIED IN THEM TO HELP YOU SOLVE PUZZLES AND MOVE HUGE STONE COLUMNS AND MAKE STAIRCASES APPEAR AND LOTS OF NONSENSE LIKE THAT.
CG: AND IT’S ALL MASKED IN THIS FLOWERY SORT OF FROTHY POETIC JACKASSERY THAT NOBODY REALLY CARES ABOUT.
CG: AND I SURE AS HELL DON’T CARE ABOUT SPOILING IT FOR YOU.
CG: BUT WHAT ALL THESE LOFTY SYMBOLIC ALLUSIONS BOIL DOWN TO IS SOME GRANDER STATEMENT ABOUT WHAT YOU SEE HAPPENING HERE.
CG: THAT YOU WERE ALWAYS THE KEY TO SEEDING YOUR OWN EXISTENCE THROUGH THIS GAME.
CG: AND ANY HOPE THAT IT COULD HAVE PLAYED OUT DIFFERENTLY OR THAT YOU COULD HAVE AVOIDED THIS WHOLE MESS WAS ALWAYS JUST A RUSE.
I find his explanation of that riddle pretty interesting because it differs vastly from the kind of stuff sprites and whatnot would say, and because instead of the characters finding out the riddle through finding clues in the planet’s guides, an alien veteran of the game explains it the way normal people explain things. While it goes without saying that I missed this explanation of the riddle on my first read-through, I didn’t catch that this is an explanation of the Ultimate Riddle in my second read-through either. Like I said in the introduction post, I didn’t catch everything in my second read, where I only mostly didn’t skim stuff.
Karkat goes on to explain that just as John created all the kids, he created all the trolls—one of many parallels between Karkat and John. John convinces Karkat to troll him again a few minutes from now, breaking Karkat’s backwards march for a bit. We see that five of the babies have each gathered with an object in the lab. Then Karkat trolls John again, and John screws with him, making up that he made a dare with the trolls, and Karkat tells him how dumb dares are. I love how despite the trolls’ portrayal as those aliens who know everything, Karkat is shown to do dumb things, aware of how dumb it is but doing it anyway for reasons. He goes on to explain the reckoning and how the babies arrive on Earth through meteors—which John compares to Superman—and John tells Karkat to continue talking to him in the future. Karkat is irritated.
There isn’t too much of Act 4 left, so I’ll stop here. See you next time for another round of plot threads tying together and a lot of dramatic stuff.