Cookie Fonster’s Homestuck Commentary Part 67: Meet the Rad Dude with Rad Shades

Introduction

Part 66 | Part 67 | Part 68 >

Act 6 Act 2, Part 2 of 6

Pages 4437-4469, 4517-4537 (MSPA: 6337-6369, 6417-6437)

And a rad title refrance.

NOTE: My next few posts for Act 6 Act 2 will be divided as follows:   

  • One post for the rest of Dirk’s half of the selection screen (might be a shorter post than usual?)
  • One post for Roxy’s half of the selection screen
  • Two posts for the rest of the sub-act

I’m not sure if I’ll keep going with the every Sunday schedule or do something a bit faster. I keep forgetting that I stopped being able to maintain a steady posting schedule months ago, when I had that big school project in April and May. But I still feel tempted to say how often I’ll release posts regardless.  

You’ve clearly got some time to kill before your bffsy gets back from her emergency. Might as well do some casual reading. 

Rather than going through sylladex mishaps while waiting for Roxy to get back to her, Jane decides to read some books instead, presumably because she’s so “mature”. Seriously, everything she’s done so far has come off as unbelievably childish. The only thing that prevents her from reaching Vriska levels of immaturity is feeling bad about leaving her dad in suspense.

But there’s nothing casual about hoisting even an abridged Sassacre’s up to your lap, so forget that. There’s always GAME GRL. But the articles are all a bit vapid, and in your view, somewhat demeaning to female gamers, and women in general. You and Ro-Lal are convinced the whole thing is just written by the same odious d-bags who write GAME BRO. Which is exactly what makes it GOOD 4 THE ELL YOU ELLZ, her words. 

It’s clear that Game Grl is a completely satirical magazine, perhaps even more so than Game Bro considering how sexist it supposedly is. Its purported intended audience is gamer girls, but its actual intended audience is the same sorts of people who enjoy stuff like South Park.* This brings to mind the whole thing of layers of irony, which itself brings to mind Dave. With that in mind I have a new headcanon: in the scratched universe Dave is the creator of all those satirical gaming magazines.

* Roxy would probably fall into both categories (i.e. be motherfuckin’ both things).

Alright, it’s finally time for Detective Pony. Before we begin, I’d like to note something: for the sake of this post series, I’ll consider the fanmade full version of Detective Pony to be canon. Even though I consider it to be canon regardless.

The book pretends to be about Acorn saving animals from a fire, but it’s really more about Acorn befriending a black cat who goes missing. Just to be clear I’m referring to the original book, not Dirk’s version.

You’ve read this a million times already. It’s one of your favorite gifts. 

The funny thing is, I’ve read this a million times too. The modified book is quite possibly the funniest thing ever.

We get to see the following pages of the book:

If Dirk thinks “Harley” is a dumb name, does that mean he thinks Jake, who said “Halley” that way due to a speech impediment, is an imbecile? This may be obtuse foreshadowing of their relationship going horribly.  

The story portrays the Pony Pals (Anna, Pam, and Pawnee) as being obsessed with nothing but ponies (“it’s not a pony, so who seriously gives a fuck?”), which I see as making the story much more logical regarding the book series’ title and supposed premise. Seriously, the original book is mostly about a cat rather than ponies; what the hell is with that? Though right now the modified book is a lot more horse-focused than it originally was, it later grows to be mostly focused around ancient Greek shit, effectively destroying its own original premise.

Going on, Acorn immediately kills the cat, establishing that this is a story about HORSES, where the cat is the fiend because he constantly gets in the way of the kids’ Pony Pals shit and comes back to life whenever he is killed. I think Detective Pony totally deconstructs the way the story purports to be about ponies by making it legitimately about kids who want nothing more than to do pony stuff, but then deconstructs that by having a whole metafictional plot involving Dirk inserting himself (and also Jeanne Betancourt) into the story that eventually consumes the entire book.

Later, about halfway through the book, rather than see the gag through to the bitter end, Strider began pasting over entire pages of original text with his own completely rewritten version of the story, while keeping all the chapter titles. His revision is a tough, emotionally draining read. But it’s cathartic, in all the worst ways possible. 

He tends to get carried away with his projects. 

The last line in this description of how the story goes gives us what may be the main point of showing us Detective Pony: as an example of one of Dirk’s crazy projects, right up there with his responder, Lil’ Seb, Brobot, and his rapping robots. To get the full Dirk effect, I highly recommend you read the full version of Detective Pony, which I linked above.

Come on Jane, you could’ve just taken us on a long and wondrous Pony Pals interlude rather than being an impatient doofus.

Jane decides to run Roxy’s file regardless despite her warning, meaning that she stupidly disobeys not only her father, but also pretty much everyone.

If I’m interpreting this scene correctly, Roxy programmed her virus to give a message that’s obviously from her warning Jane to step away from the computer? I guess it’s technically a nice thing for her to do considering that she’d think the explosion would kill her, but it kind of destroys the point of the program considering GCat would totally just save her from the explosion again.

Speaking of which, if you think about it, Jane sort of is surrounded by versions of all four of the beta kids’ guardians, who all try to serve as a guardian in some way. Dad is obvious, Mom is replaced with Roxy who constantly warns her about the witch’s evil ways, Bro with not only Dirk but also Lil’ Seb, and Bec of course is replaced with the smug white cat.

And so, the virus blows up Jane’s computer. The virus is often considered to be an example of Roxy screwing things up with good intent, but I totally 100% blame Jane for it.

This totally would’ve happened even if the computer blew up right in her face.

Note the seagulls in Dirk’s room, as well as the sunny sky outside the window.

This image above is one hell of a character teaser, perhaps the most open and filled-with-stuff teaser ever, contrasting against all the vague teasers in the trolls’ arc. I’m not sure if readers should closely examine this page to see all the stuff around his room—everything from SBaHJ merch to robot parts to My Little Pony posters—or wait until Dirk’s proper introduction a little later so the teaser effect is a bit more subtle like it should be. Dirk especially isn’t that much of a mystery character anymore, even with his name; there’s only a small handful of four letter names that start with “Di”. Same goes for Roxy’s name, really.

TT: I should probably warn you. 
GG: About what? 
GG: Yet another exploding game trap? 
TT: Well shit. 
TT: She already sent it? 
GG: Yes. 
GG: But to be fair, she warned me not to run it. 
TT: That’s weird. 
GG: Why? 
GG: She was probably just trying to protect me from the Batterwitch’s latest assassination attempt. 
GG: Sheesh, I can’t believe you all finally got me saying “Batterwitch” too. Who would have thought? 
TT: No, it’s weird because Lalonde was the one who rigged it to explode. 
TT: It’s a bogus copy she coded herself. The real game file she downloaded is totally legit. 

Here’s the story once again doing the thing where a story event is explained in words. Unlike some other cases, this one is a completely fair and not wasteful thing to do, because there’s NO WAY that would be clear to readers without that, far less so than even with the cryptic events of Cascade.

This brings to mind another random thought. Many story events in Homestuck really have two times they’re revealed: once in a flash or other visual scene, and again in an exposition dump that clears things up. Usually the main reveal scene is in the flash, but for this one, I think the pesterlog is the primary reveal of what happened.

GG: Why would she do that? 
TT: To accomplish exactly what it sounds like got accomplished.
TT: You narrowly averting the “fake” threat to your life, then getting your shit all hot and bothered at the Baroness over it.
TT: Then you abdicate your heiress throne or something, and give up on this game as a big fuck you to the genocidal cake alien. 
GG: But… 
GG: If she felt so strongly that I shouldn’t play, she could have told me. 
GG: Or, told me more forcefully, I guess. I would have listened! 
GG: Maybe. 
GG: 😦 

If you read between the lines here, what Jane is saying is quite amusing. She acts like Roxy didn’t already warn her a million times about Sburb. Even though she immediately, it’s still clear that Jane somehow refuses to listen to anyone, to the point where she sometimes thinks she was never even told anything.

TT: She’s working through some problems right now. 
TT: Really doesn’t want us to play that game. 
TT: So I guess this was the insane stunt she whipped up to derail the inevitable. 
TT: Kinda reckless for my tastes. 
TT: One of the above statements is a fucking lie, are you gutsy enough a gumshoe to spot it. 

Uh…

OK I’m kind of lost here. I have no idea which is a lie. The part about “derailing the inevitable” perhaps? Maybe it’s explained when we see this from Dirk’s perspective. I’ll make a mental note to remember this.

(2019 EDIT: How stupid can I be. “Really doesn’t want us to play that game” is a fucking lie.)

GG: Maybe she was justified in taking such an extreme measure. I sure hadn’t been taking her seriously. 
GG: She even warned me not to play it until she got back, but I went ahead anyway because I was too impatient! 

I guess I can understand Jane being impatient about starting Sburb. I’m sure readers felt the same at the time this stuff happened about the alpha kids starting the game. So far, every attempt for Jane to start the game has turned out to be a booby trap.

GG: Actually… 
GG: Now that I think about it, she was probably going to disarm it or such when she got back, seeing as her objective had essentially been accomplished already by an ACTUAL assassination attempt. 
GG: After that, I told her I would believe her about everything. 
GG: That probably made her feel guilty about setting me up, so she told me not to touch the file until she returned. 
TT: Sounds about right. 
GG: But then I went ahead and ran it anyway like a doofus. 

You know what would be cool as shit??? If Jane had a massive heavy moment where she has to rely on trusting a friend, because all she’s done so far is do the exact opposite of that. Maybe she has something to the likes of that later on? My memory of early Act 6 is fuzzy in some spots so it’s not out of the question. I would say I hope that happens in the epilogue, but that can’t really happen without addressing her whole arc in its entirety because of how little has been done with it since the Crocker tier stuff happened, which is among pretty much everyone’s epilogue hopes. Come to think of it, gaining full control by the Condesce essentially reverses her entire arc, and logically she should be a supreme mess of terrible feelings after leaving that state of control. Dammit I accidentally got into another one of those salt tangents. But it’s OK really; that’s what makes talking about Homestuck fun.

GG: Am I an awful friend? 
TT: Nope. 
GG: I’m not so sure about that. 
TT: Well, before you go taking a massive sad crap all over your friendship credentials, consider this. 
TT: Only she could manage to blow up your computer with a nasty deathloop virus and somehow make YOU be the one to feel shitty about it. 
GG: Heh! 
GG: You’re right. 
TT: Or maybe you’re the one who uniquely fills the predicate in that construction. 
TT: I don’t god damn know. 
TT: Your friendship with her is a half drunken three-legged relay race, and the baton is a stick of dynamite. 
TT: And you two are the only ones on the track. Me and English are watching from under the bleachers, high-fiving constantly. 

I think what Dirk is saying here basically boils down to saying “we’re all fucked up anyway so it’s all cool”, which is a very Strider thing to say. Or alternately, maybe not all this is just Jane being dumb. It’s more like either Roxy is messing stuff up as well, or the Condesce is an evil bastard who sort of “broke” Jane so to speak. Or maybe Dirk’s responder is behind this bullshit? Maybe from now on I should just blame stuff on that thing when in doubt.

GG: I just wanted to start playing the game so badly! 
GG: Now more than ever. I have reason to believe the stakes have increased dramatically. 

Now here’s something I can’t blame Jane on. The alpha kids’ storyline has been SLOW AS FUCK regarding them starting up Sburb; this is funny especially considering that many people think the early acts, where it takes far less time to begin the game, are really slow and boring. Maybe the difference is also because while the beta kids’ storyline starts solely with getting the game, the alpha kids’ arc has a lot more additional subplots going on?

Anyway, the conversation quickly shifts over to dream self stuff, starting with this bit:

TT: Just heard about your assassination on Prospit. 
GG: Oh, she told you already? 
TT: Who, RL? No. 
TT: I read it in a newspaper. 
GG: Um. 
GG: Are you being ironic again? 
TT: No. 

I wonder if Jane always dismissed the stuff Dirk told her about the Condesce and whatnot as being ironic, the same way she dismissed Roxy’s warnings as drunk jokes.

GG: I didn’t realize you had woken up in the game already. 
GG: When did that happen? 
TT: Dunno. Years ago. Don’t really recall. 
GG: I guess I shouldn’t act surprised you didn’t tell me. What with all your highfalutin secrecy. 
TT: It’s hard to explain. 
TT: I was never technically asleep there. I was awake without realizing it. 
TT: Then I realized it. 
TT: And I sorta learned how to be awake there while awake here too. 

Dirk’s dream self having been awake for years is an interesting thing that sort of reminds me of Jade’s weirdnesses as a character. As I’ve discussed several times before, Jade spends all of the first four acts being the character whose thing is knowing the future. I think the alpha kids’ arc does a good job of not doing a similar thing with anyone in that ensemble of four main characters. Dirk has the very supernatural trait of having a dual consciousness with his dream self, but despite that being a unique trait, that alone doesn’t really define his character; no single quirk does. Jane sort of has such a thing going on with her role as the heiress to Betty Crocker, but she most certainly isn’t the bizarrely airheaded “psychic” girl Jade originally was.* However, Calliope is a character all about being defined by mysterious traits, making her an extreme version of the way Jade is portrayed.

* Pretty much all her pesterlogs in the early acts can be summed up as: “hehe [insert cryptic future knowledge here] lol 😀“.

Damn I got off track. The main point is, Dirk’s dream dual consciousness thing does a good job at establishing an unusual trait without making it the thing about him.

TT: I am awake there now, albeit pretending to sleep. 
GG: Pretending? Why? 
TT: For one thing, it gets a bit distracting managing two alert bodies in different places at the same time. 
TT: And for another thing, it’s better to maintain appearances.
TT: Everyone on Derse believes their heroes haven’t woken yet. 
TT: Though they are both rumored to be very active sleep walkers. 
TT: Which is half true. She can’t ever seem to sleep still. Goes off wandering for days. 
TT: Sometimes I’ve gotta go round her up from some godforsaken cranny of the abyss. Drag her tipsy ass home, tuck her back in.

What makes it especially interesting that Dirk has dream self stuff going on without that being his main thing is that he has several parallels to Jade as discussed above—both of them even regularly watch over their respective sleeping dream neighbors, who coincidentally tend to be shipped together—but their characters don’t have that much else in common. 

TT: Maybe I’ll chain her leg to the bed if she doesn’t wake up soon. 
TT: Though in light of the recent assassinations, her slumbering attraction to the void probably works to her advantage. No one ever knows where she is. 

Both of these lines above serve as foreshadowing of stuff: the cherubs being chained to their beds and Roxy’s god tier title. The first of those lines is the kind of foreshadowing that only comes off as such in retrospect and is perhaps designed for people re-reading the comic to catch, but the other is clearly one of those hints that first-time readers are meant to be able to catch, because fans love speculating about the classpect system more than anything.

TT: No, it’s essentially the same situation here. 
TT: They glorify us the same way. Almost like we’re their purple pajama’d team mascots. Even though they will completely oppose our objective when all is said and done. 
TT: Kinda ridiculous, really. 

I think this strange contradiction concerning the way Derse regards its dreamers might be another example of video game satire, how some concepts are programmed without much thought that leads to the ridiculous ways of, and I quote, “video game logic”.

TT: But even so, I think it’s better to lay low, not alert anyone to my… 
TT: Alertness.  
TT: That way I can sneak around and gather information. Do some reconnaissance before shit starts getting real. 
GG: In other words, read newspapers, get a feel for “the word on the street,” and such? 
GG: As might a detective? :B 
TT: Yeah, among other things. Like keep an eye on agent activity. 
GG: You mean… secret agents?? 
TT: No, more like high ranking officials. 

The way Dirk describes spying around Derse makes it sound sort of like he has multiple levels of preemptive knowledge of the game. All four alpha kids know stuff through Calliope essentially inserting herself in the story, but Dirk seems to know even more stuff through Derse escapades, which once again matches with Jade to an extent. Oh, and I forgot about Jake also knowing stuff through his letters with Jade.

TT: Judging from your knife wound, I’m betting you were the victim of the Archagent himself. 
TT: You should feel honored, I guess. 

Oh god, this sounds so much like something Equius would say, with his bullshit ideas about what qualifies as honorable in relation to higher blood castes and all that nonsense. Seriously, just replace “Archagent” with “highb100d” and remove “I guess” and this could totally pass as an Equius quote. Don’t believe me? See for yourself:

CT: D –> Judging from your knife wound, I’m betting you were the victim of the highb100d himself 
CT: D –> You should feel honored 

That was a little stupid but whatever.

GG: Who’s that? 
TT: A guy named Noir. 
TT: Real nasty dude. Crazy ambitious. Loves knives. 
TT: If we’re going to stand any chance of winning this thing, 
TT: I’ve got this nagging suspicion we’re gonna have to take him down first. 
TT: And a feeling that nags equally, 
TT: Is it ain’t gonna be easy. 

This is really blatant foreshadowing that the alpha kids’ Jack is going to be extremely dangerous later on. But what Dirk doesn’t get is that they’re actually going to have to take him down last. Even though imprisonment by the White Queen takes him out of the picture for a long while, after busting out of prison, I think it was with the help of Gamzee (his fellow wild card character), he becomes absolute final boss material with those Lord English powers.

In this image, both shots of the house show Jane having caused extreme destruction. Remember how the trolls always thought Jade messed everything up? Well, here Jane really is messing everything up. Boy, have I been talking about Jade a lot.

GG: I guess I should find all that ominous. 
GG: But I cannot lie, sir. 
GG: Nothing you have said has made me one iota less excited to begin this adventure! 
GG: Those dastardly agents can try to assassinate me all they like. I just want to get started! 

Considering her enthusiasm about starting this whole thing up, I wonder to what degree Jane sees this adventure as a video game. If she sees this as being inside a video game, then it makes sense for her to be excited for this whole thing, a lot more so than if she were to see this as going on an adventure where she could very well die miserably or get stuck in eternal oblivion. I suppose that’s her being optimistic and generally trying to see things in a positive light, which sort of reminds me of John. But then again, at least he understands perfectly that murder is a bad thing.

TT: I am having Lil Seb install a real copy of the client on another computer in your house.
TT: A clean computer, not any of this BCCorp garbage you tend to accumulate.
TT: I’ll have to insist from this point onward, you employ neutral devices.
TT: That shit fucks with your head.
GG: Hrm.
GG: Alrighty, I think I can make that concession. 

It’s interesting that Jane easily accepts that her high-powered Betty Crocker technology is brainwashing propaganda stuff. Maybe she feels that way because she had always known that stuff as urban legends, just like the stuff about the Condesce herself which she finally has started to put stock in?

TT: Once it’s installed, I’ll connect with you. I will be your server player. 
TT: I know this isn’t what you were hoping for, but some improvisation is in order. 

I think Dirk being Jane’s server player parallels the way the beta kids’ session panned out (with Rose being John’s server player) a lot better than if Roxy were to serve that role, which becomes more apparent when he starts deploying stuff around Jane’s house. The unconventional way the connection order plays out with the alpha kids does a good job at making the their story decently different from that of the alpha kids. This also brings to mind something about the beta kids’ session: as far as we can tell, their session, despite being pretty much as far as possible from a normal session as Vriska said once, is the only one we’ve seen where client/server connections are done the normal way.

GG: Say, do I even have any machines that survived the explosion besides this one? 
TT: Do you even have any machines that don’t inundate you with fucking Hamburger Helper ads and Guy Fieri’s heinous propaganda? 
GG: I guess not. :p 
GG: Still, some nice things were surely destroyed. 
GG: I think Detective Pony was caught in the blast. 
GG: It’s unlikely Acorn survived. 😥 
TT: A fitting end to a life of moral compromise. 

The funny thing about the Pony Pals book is, it has some parallels with the purported premise of the book, which is the clinic being on fire and the animals having to be rescued. In this metaphor, the computer explosion is the fire, the book is the animals, and Dad is Acorn, which sounds ridiculous but it’s true. Also, Dirk’s line “A fitting end to a life of moral compromise” matches perfectly with the fanmade full version of Detective Pony, which is one of many reasons I consider it canon to Homestuck.

GG: So, since I’m apparently out of “neutral devices,” 
GG: Which computer is Seb installing the file on? 
TT: On your dad’s computer downstairs. 
TT: One in the study. 

It’s pretty clear that although Jane is loaded with Betty Crocker technology, Dad totally strays from it despite being the heiress’s father. Considering this, he almost certainly knows the company she’s soon to inherit is really bad news. And if you put into light how the beta kids’ guardians always seemed to be up to mysterious stuff, it’s likely that he planned to be involved in the rebellion against the witch.

I think it says a lot that Lil’ Seb is the one installing Jane’s client copy of Sburb, rather than Jane herself. As I have said earlier, I think Dirk’s robots are a symbol of his influence on his friends’ lives, and having his hands everywhere so to speak. If I remember right, his responder later gives Jane and Jake their server copies of Sburb, which matches with that theme even though I consider Dirk and his responder to be separate characters. His auto-responder counts as one of his robots after all.

Note the Betty Crocker cake mix.Maybe Dad uses a bit of Betty Crocker stuff at all? Maybe only the food products though. God, I hope it’s only the food products.

Also note that Detective Pony is on fire, which makes sense because the book is about a giant fire (but not really).

In these images above, we see that Dad died a Disney death. This psyche-out death does a really good job at fooling with reader’s emotions. While seeing Jane’s fake death is frustrating because she disobeyed her father, Dad’s fake death is extremely heartwrenching because so far he’s done nothing but try to protect Jane, and his death in that case would’ve been as a result of a fit of his daughter’s disobedience. Even though he isn’t a voiced character, the story does a good job at making us feel REALLY bad for him.

Dirk says the following in response to Jane worrying that her father might have gotten killed:

TT: I wouldn’t worry about it. 
GG: Maybe I should go look? 
GG: Though I’m a little afraid to. 
TT: I think it’ll take a lot more to kill that dude than a little falling debris. 
TT: Trust me. 
GG: I hope so. 
GG: The Crockers have something of a legacy when it comes to losing forebears in mysterious explosions. 
GG: I would be so sad if I kept the tradition alive like this. 

This supposed tradition of Crockers dying in explosions brings to mind something about Jane. It can be reasonably assumed that her meteor landing on Earth is what killed Poppop, which is an example of that tradition (maybe Colonel Sassacre in this universe died that way as well?). It’s also an example of how Jane has been messing things up ever since she was born.

2019 EDIT: This passage is really interesting (and sad) to read knowing how Dad Crocker dies in the Candy Epilogue. In the end, Jane unfortunately did keep the tradition alive.

TT: Now do me a favor and hop off the couch. 
GG: Ok. 
GG: What are you doing? 
TT: Makin’ room for something big. 

The alpha kids are FINALLY going through the classic Sburb stuff! That sure took long enough. After a series of attempts that amounted to nothing more than things blowing up, the payoff is well worth it: it’s a satisfying throwback to the early acts that makes readers think, “yessss, finally the story is progressing”. And considering Dirk’s section of the selection screen soon continues with this arc, it’s only fair that I’ll start with him instead of Roxy.

You watch Di-Stri deploy some sort of mammoth instrument on to your balcony. It’s just as well he took over for Ro-Lal. She probably would have destroyed half your house with that thing in her condition. 

Well, Jane already destroyed half her house so Roxy would probably just end up finishing the job.

Seriously though, with that bit above in mind, I think Dirk’s responder was wise in giving Roxy the role of Jake’s server player as will happen later on. She has the easiest job of the group, with the least risk of destroying things since the house she’ll be deploying stuff on is already in ruins.

But on the bright side, you’re sure RL would have enjoyed a good nicker with you over the notion of DS deploying his mammoth instrument. You wonder what she could possibly be up to? 

While you’re at it, you also wonder what the deal is with this cagey treatment of their names. Di-Stri, Ro-Lal, DS, RL, Strider, Lalonde… it’s all starting to get a bit silly. Each of their full names has eleven characters, and you have been dancing around all but two. Maybe it’s time you were formally introduced to the last two characters.

The first paragraph above is narration from Jane’s perspective, but the second is from the reader’s perspective. As with the blurry distinction between chat client and in-person dialogue in dream bubbles, this is an interesting example of things being unexpectedly able to flow smoothly. It reminds me of how the narration in Problem Sleuth is often simultaneously from the perspective of the “player” and from the perspective of the characters themselves. In Homestuck, the line between those is a lot more clear cut, but the narration weirdness works just the same way.

Anyway, it’s time to meet Roxy and Dirk. Are you ready?

Here’s a challenge for you. Try to look at all the stuff around Roxy’s room and think “Rose’s mom”. The more you do it, the more you realize Rose never really knew her guardian that well.

One of the last two stands in her bedroom. It is a young lady! Due to an incident involving an APPEARIFIER, an unabridged COLONEL SASSACRE’S, and a PERFECTLY WHITE CAT, she will not be able to assist her bffsy for some time. And due to the aggressive aconcurrence of all that takes place in paradox space, this incident HAS NOT HAPPENED YET. 

The part about the “perfectly white cat” is a bit odd because I always (by which I mean for the past week) thought GCat’s involvement in Jaspers’ death was the unexpected part of the cat death mystery. But I guess even that hinted at before it happens.

When the narration says “Thank you, cat who is probably Jaspers”, all bets are off regarding the story even pretending to treat that as much of a mystery. It quite precisely represents the reader’s stream of consciousness.

Preemptive warning: I don’t really feel like discussing Roxy’s and Dirk’s arcs that much in their introductions so I won’t.

Roxy Lalonde is easily the most popular of the alpha kids, and it isn’t that hard to see why. There’s just something about her and her motives that lets you know that she truly always means well and unconditionally cares about her friends, but it doesn’t make her come off as a ball of pure sticky goo for a few reasons. She often messes stuff up in the process of trying to be nice, and is freely lighthearted and goofy about stuff, something that sets her apart from the other human Derse dreamers. Expanding on the first point, she messes a lot of things up with her attempts at getting her friends’ relationship drama to work, but people like her character regardless; not just because of her humor, but also because of the aforementioned something about her.

As for her introduction page, a thing about it that comes to mind is that she has interests in common with all the beta kids: video games and programming (John)*, wizards and wizard stories (Rose), collecting dead stuff (Dave), and science (Jade). Also, there’s yet another one of those hints about her living in the future: her mother has vision omnifold but strangely never watches her. Roxy and Dirk living in the future sort of straddles the border between the two types of mysteries in the comic: those with subtle foreshadowing and those with blatant foreshadowing.

* I wonder if her being good at programming was at this point already meant to complement John being bad at that stuff. More on how their relationship is foreshadowed when John meets her sleeping dream self in person.

According to the narration, the pony who reveals the last two letters of Dirk’s name by waking up is “presumably a tiny Maplehoof for some reason”. Given how Minihoof’s existence is clearly just a gag, I’m surprised it isn’t more of a meme. Maybe it’s overshadowed by Hussie’s closely related memetic horse infatuation?

We’ve come a long way from John’s mundane bedroom. Just look at this room. Is there one interest of Dirk’s that isn’t represented here? I don’t fucking think so.

I consider Dirk Strider to be the alpha kids’ “special case” character, much to the likes of Jade for the beta kids, or Aradia for the trolls. This is not just because of his unusual traits, but also because of his unusual role in the narrative. His narrative role isn’t so much his own actions as it is between those of him and of his so-called “splinters” and how they are connected. To list all those out, there’s his responder, Brain Ghost Dirk, his dream self*, Dave’s bro, Brobot, and Lil’ Seb.** All those are directly part of his role in the story, which is interesting considering the following. Eventually, he decides that all his splinters are in fact him, no matter what he likes to think. This statement can be read as a statement regarding his role in the story as well: all splinters of Dirk constitute his role in the story just as much as the Dirk does. But despite being a special case character, at the same time he’s his own character with his own personality and way of being, which I think is a good way to handle his character.

Huh, looks like both of Roxy’s and Dirk’s character paragraphs ended up discussing one particular thing about them, or more specifically the most striking thing about their character. They also ended up shorter than Jane’s and Jake’s paragraphs, which is ironic because the two who were just introduced are usually considered to be the more interesting two of the alpha kids.

Anyway, let’s comment on his introduction page. He is mentioned to be interested in ancient history, something that isn’t really talked about much in the comic. However, Detective Pony (god I’m probably never going to stop talking about this thing) takes full advantage of this interest by having numerous tangents about ancient Greek philosophy and all that stuff. He also is stated to like sparring with robots to death, which is kind of interesting when you compare him to Dave’s bro. His pre-scratch self gave Dave these nightmare training sessions, but is post-scratch Dirk just giving himself training lessons? That might make sense. Also might explain why his adult self is such an impossibly tough guy. Speaking of which, he is pretty heavily emphasized to be interested in robots, something that was only touched upon with his guardian self. I think that in this universe he grew up to be so invested in robots because they may serve as a replacement for human company since there’s no one else around and he knows it.

* Only kind of counts because Dirk and his dream self share the same consciousness.

** I’m counting this one because Dirk seems to be able to pretty much control Lil’ Seb, using him to install Sburb and his responder later using him to monitor Jane.

And so, we have another character selection screen, this time for Roxy and Dirk. As promised, I’ll start with Dirk.

The first thing Dirk does is introduce us to his weaponry of choice. First he has a pretentious monologue about his anime sword, then we get the following description of his other weapons:

You like to juggle around a few different allocations in your portfolio besides bladekind, mostly ironically. You take a certain amount of pride in being able to beat practically anyone’s ass down with a puppet, a martial discipline for which there is a startling variety of techniques. 

Fancysantakind is a straightup shits and giggles specibus, though. Nobody is quite sure how to extract damage from a foe using an extremely elaborate santa figurine. But if anyone can figure it out, it is probably you.

I think his trio of strife specibi is pretty representative of his character: a sort of blend of irony and sincerity, with his sincere pride in swordfighting and puppet beatdowns mixed with an ironic joke specibus which he feels like he could do it sincerely. He finally uses fancy santas as a weapon for real in Collide which I think might symbolize character development, where he has become a little less far up his ass with being ironic. Even though it’s probably really just one of the animation’s many “blink and you’ll miss it” bits.

Dirk totally should’ve done the flash step thing in the battle against his version of Jack.
Unless it only works when you’re with the puppet? After all, that’s the only time we’ve ever seen characters do that sort of thing, and that includes Gamzee flash-stepping in Cal’s proximity.

He’s been around as long as you can remember. You were practically raised by that puppet. He was a much better guardian to you than that Hollywood superstar BRO of yours ever was. He is such a good listener. You share with him all your most private thoughts and hopes and dreams, and sometimes you snuggle up with him for a nice nap. 

Even if it wasn’t apparent at this point that Lil’ Cal is bad fucking news, this would still be creepy as hell. But it reads a little differently knowing that Dirk’s version of Cal is empty and does not have the corrupting influence of Lord English’s evil ways. This connects to how Dirk himself is the “main” one among his splinters in an interesting way: his pre-scratch self can be seen as a version of him heavily influenced by the puppet’s corrupting amalgamation of souls. If you think of Bro that way, then one could see Dave’s guardian reunion as him truly getting to know his guardian for the first time.

Anyway, the bottom line is, puppets are awesome. 

And that’s really all there is to say on the matter. 

These lines are a great example of the comic echoing prior lines in a new light. In this case, it’s a callback to when Dave said puppets are awesome in a way that makes it obvious that he’s presently getting creeped the hell out by them and desperately trying to keep up his act. But here, Dirk actually is all about puppets. I think his adult self was really forceful in trying to make Dave be like him, which is why he used to insist he thinks puppets are cool.

You say yo what up to this dude over here, and exchange a unique series of hand shakes and fist bumps. 

His name is SQUAREWAVE. You built him to have rap-offs with now and then. He’s an enthusiastic rapper, and gives it his all whenever you duel, but he’s pretty easy to destroy. You’ve never lost a match against him. 

As I said earlier, I think Dirk made his robots as a substitute for human company. The rapbots especially could be seen as friends of his to an extent. If you consider the measures Dirk goes through to feel less lonely in this desolate wasteland, one could only imagine what measures Roxy would take if she didn’t at least have the chess people as company. I mean, she already does get drunk a lot of the time so who knows what would happen. Wasn’t her house specifically designed to self-replicate into a neighborhood for those exiles to live in or something? I don’t know, maybe I’ll talk more about that when we get to know her.

You have only built one other rapbot besides him. His name is SAWTOOTH. You designed him to be unbeatable in a rap-off, and he is. You have never won a match against him. You hope to one day, but you’re not gonna hold your breath. His flow is just that insane. 

Sawtooth being an unbeatable rapper could be seen as an example of the effect with Dirk’s splinters in action: his creation became more extreme than he is, sort of like his auto-responder but ultimately harmless to his integrity. If you think about it, Dirk must’ve been able to program a robot that raps better than he himself does, which is a very Frankenstein sort of thing to happen, but not quite as much as the thing going on with his responder.

Turns out that Dirk has a wardrobifier, which matches him up with Jade (his fellow special case character) and Kanaya (her fellow space player). I think it’s mostly there to bring to light such a parallel, which is a little unusual because the story does much more to make us see he has stuff in common with Rose and Dave.

And he also has a tattoo of Hella Jeff, who is referred to as “a legendary cultural icon of deep personal significance”. As with many things from the comic, this is something I think you should let sink in. For some reason, despite SBaHJ itself having memetic popularity in real life, it’s hard to fathom the idea of its characters being on the level of cultural icons. One can only imagine how many people ended up digging Dave’s sense of humor more than anything for him to become this popular.

Hussie said once that My Little Pony is an alright show but still one obviously meant for little girls. Basically what I think these days.

R.I.P. Stiller. 

Poor bastard. Had to go and get all tangled up with your brother’s crazy, complicated life. 

Throughout Dirk’s room examination pages so far, including in the bit above, we get a lot of implications that he lives in the future. All this probably reads a bit weird to readers who started with him instead of Roxy. I’m not sure if Roxy’s section of the screen reads any less weirdly before readers put two and two together, but if people start with Roxy and then get here, that means they already got to the part where it’s confirmed that they live in the future.

As for the other one… 

You are a studious popculture scholar of all eras. A sharp critic of that reflection in the mirror we hold up to our society. You seek truth in the vivid mosaic made of our most shameless obsessions. 

Your interest in these cartoon ponies is strictly academic, ok? No, seriously. 

… 

What? 

…… 

OK FINE, YOU LOVE THIS ONE PARTICULAR LITTLE RAINBOW HORSE UNIRONICALLY, IS THAT SUCH A CRIME. 

She is so spunky. ❤

As I mentioned in a post from last year (wow it’s been that long???), I used to be a brony. As such, this bit above about how it really isn’t that bad to like these ponies resonated with me; when I discovered Homestuck my brony phase was starting to draw to a close. People love making fun of fans of My Little Pony for pretty obvious reasons, and at the time I thought it was a really cool and counter-culturey thing to do to be at the other side of the extreme fandom ridicule. To this day, I’m not sure whether or to what degree I started that year-long phase out of sincere enjoyment of the show itself, rather than just to be “hip” in a weird sort of way. The Homestuck fanbase has also been ridiculed but to not to the extent of people thinking they’re all fat gay basement dwellers who jerk off to [REDACTED]; at worst, people tend to see the comic as a dumb anime with annoying fans. Since I myself never was too much aware of the comic’s popular image or whether it’s cool or hip to like it, I think I can safely say I started being into Homestuck for fully legitimate reasons.

As for Dirk being a brony, I think that’s just more of a little shout-out than anything, poking fun at a fanbase whose very existence is inherently a little ridiculous.

Considering that Dirk designed these “lovable” smuppets himself, one can only guess he likes sewing and knitting them, paralleling him with Rose.

The pile at the foot of your bed consists of hats, a few stray robo-parts, and SMUPPETS. Smuppets are a lovable sort of plush of your own design. You love everything about puppets. You’re always thinking about the craft of their production, their operation, cool and new designs and such. If the cosmos didn’t have more important plans for you, and if the world weren’t so fucked up, you’d make a run at fame and fortune with your own puppet enterprises, just like your BRO did with all his weird shit. 

The narration makes it abundantly clear that if there’s anything Dirk loves unironically, it’s puppets. This pretty much confirms that the same goes for Bro’s apparent interest in puppets. It also has a lot of implications regarding Dave’s beliefs that his brother is an advanced master of irony. All the beta kids never seemed to truly understand their guardians’ motives. Though Dave’s bro probably was indeed interested in irony, Dave was way off thinking puppets were among his ironic interests.

You also love to keep a bunch of HATS around, even though you never wear them. You love HATS. Because all bros love HATS, and that’s what you are. A bro. 

You’d consider wearing one now and then, but they don’t really fit the dimensions of your head yet. And anyway, it would be criminal to mess up your perfect hair. Instead, you do the next best thing, which is wearing a picture of one on your shirt. And by the next best thing, you’re pretty sure you mean the vastly superior thing.

Hats not fitting the dimensions of teenage Dirk’s head has to be the most ridiculous handwave for anything in the comic so far; in this case, why he doesn’t wear a hat like Bro does. But since it’s not handwaving away a serious plot mystery, in this case it’s a totally OK thing for the comic to do since it’s pretty much making a joke about art style weirdness.

The image flips from a totally bitchin’ horse puppet sorta thing, to a portrait of everyone’s favorite comedy duo, Stiller and Wilson. 

Your BRO made so many of these movies, it’s hard to keep track of them. The series drifted almost imperceptibly from surrealist slapstick and inexplicable boxoffice dynamite, to veiled, near-subliminal protest pieces designed to expose the corporate tyranny slowly taking control of the world. The statement did not go unnoticed by the Baroness, and soon the conflict between your brother’s media empire and Crockercorp was a matter of public spectacle. Though the press has generally played up the rivalry as an extremely high stakes display of performance art. And knowing your bro, there is surely at least some truth to this.

I think it’s pretty clearly implied that the Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff movies have something about them that makes people legitimately invested in them, and it can’t just be what makes the real-life comic an Internet meme. Maybe the movies are popular for the same reason why Cool and New Webcomic is popular, namely that it’s intentionally crude but somehow works in that regard, causing it to gain a massive cult popularity? I think the popularity of the SBaHJ movies in-comic is more like the popularity of Cool and New Webcomic than it is like SBaHJ in real life. And plus, not everyone likes that fan webcomic; some people think it’s complete trash, which is what I thought before I read it.

This begs the question, what is it about the SBaHJ movies that made them popular? One idea is that some things really are probably good about them, such as casting Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson as the titular duo. Or maybe as with Cool and New Webcomic, the movies are just that good at being sucky.

Donald Glover won an academy award for his transcendental performance as Geromy. After his acceptance speech, there was not a single dry eye in the house. His heroic effort on the silver screen was heralded by critics everywhere as a defining moment in cinematic history. 

I’m starting to think readers are supposed to fill in the blanks regarding the SBaHJ films and their success. Donald Glover’s supposedly transcendental performance could mean pretty much anything, and here’s my bet as to what that means. I think he played a very minor background role as Geromy in all those movies, but one that covers so much more than meets the eye due to the layers of irony and stuff. I bet Dave in this universe made the practice of irony into a global hit phenomenon, to the point of his SBaHJ movie crew being all about the complex methods of irony. It’s not explicitly stated, but considering that they fillfully* played the roles in those movies it’s very likely.

* 3/22/2019: I meant “faithfully”. Don’t ask how I made that typo.

And as soon as the screen switches to obscene furry shit, the narration goes “no fuck this” and he starts looking at other stuff. We never get much elaboration regarding Dirk being possibly a furry, but I’d bet he likes that stuff for the same reason Hussie likes horses: he thinks horses are inherently hilarious because they freak out and make funny noises and stuff. I forgot to mention, Dirk is kind of Hussie’s second author avatar in the comic, sort of replacing Dave in that role. Sometimes stuff Dirk says could totally pass for stuff the author would say, and vice versa.

It isn’t a microwave. It’s your SENDIFICATOR! 

Pretty much the only Crockertech you can bring yourself to use. It’s just too handy not to. 

You just type the coordinates, pop in the thing you want to sendificate, and hit the button. It’ll sendificate that thing in a jiffy, assuming it’s temporally allowed, and within size restrictions. 

I think it’s clear through Roxy’s and Dirk’s ownership of slight bits of Crockercorp technology that the Condesce has been manipulating the other alpha kids as well, but much less so than with Jane. But unlike with Roxy’s gun and how it caused Jane not to believe the stuff she says, I’m not totally certain how the sendificator advances the witch’s schemes. But I can only imagine she specifically designed such technology to be used by those two.

Obviously you can only send what you can fit inside there. You had to send Jake your brobot piece by piece, barely managing to squeeze that shiny melon head in there. He then dutifully assembled the robot himself. Poor fool, so jovially complicit in his own merciless jungle predation. It’s all for the best, though. When you’re through with English, he will be a ruthless killing machine. Mark your words. 

The part of this paragraph that I underlined says a lot about not only Dirk, but also pre-scratch Dirk with his nightmare training sessions. I think you can glean a lot of information about the beta kids’ guardians from reading the alpha kids’ narration pages. In this case, it’s clear that both versions of Dirk gave nightmare training to Dave and Jake respectively to try to make them fearless and brutal.

Since that line is immediately followed by “mark your words”, that basically means that line is going to be foreshadowing, among the many bits of foreshadowing of Jake accomplishing a great feat of heroism. Those prophecies are fulfilled in Caliborn’s Masterpiece with his stunning hope attack, sort of indirectly through Dirk. More on that choice of prophecy fulfillment some time later.

Why does Dirk have a cat plush in his inventory?
Maybe it’s from a gift exchange or something? Who knows.

Next, we get to know Dirk’s rhyming and item category based fetch modus, which is considerably harder to work with than any of the other alpha kids’ modi. But he doesn’t mind this at all; as the narration states, it takes skill to work with this modus. Maybe he does this to make himself better like the way he always tries to toughen up his friends?

Dirk proceeds to captchalogue his Sweet Bro plush but fails to do the same with his Hella Jeff plush. The narration keeps saying he’s too busy to go through the trouble of captchaloguing the latter plush, but what is he busy with? Examining his room? 

Your bro had a lot of junk like this manufactured over the years. He patented the technology for producing THREE DIMENSIONAL JPEG ARTIFACTS, to make products shittier than was ever previously imaginable. He made a killing off them. Not because anyone bought this garbage. But because they were so cheap to manufacture, their cost was actually NEGATIVE, therefore miraculously netting him profit for every unit produced. 

In other words, scratched Dave pretty much hacked his way to wealth and fame. This is pretty similar to his own tendency to exploit loopholes with time travel and stuff, and not be afraid to break go against apparent “rules”.

Aw, look. Squarewave saw you messing around with your sylladex and thought you were preparing for a rap battle. He is kind of like an eager pet dog, and you made the mistake of picking up his leash, and now he thinks he’s going for a walk. You hate to break his heart, but you just don’t have time. Your concentration is divided enough as it is. 

With the narration comparing Squarewave to a pet dog like this, you can sort of think of Dirk as having made his own pets, which sort of puts a new light on his implicit desire for company in this lonely world.

The next page focuses on Dirk’s dream self so I’ll stop here. See you Sunday or possibly earlier as Dirk talks to some people, and also kills a guy.

>> Part 68: Dream Decapitations and Smug Brain Clones

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