Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 2 Rewritten: The Fatherly Miniboss

Introduction

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 >

Act 1, Part 2 of 3

Pages 47-137 (MSPA: 1947-2037)

Link to old version

Most of the title pictures for these rewritten posts are probably going to be the same as the old versions. 
Most of the titles for these rewritten posts are probably not going to be the same as the old versions. 

NOTE: This is still not a restart of my Homestuck post series. I’m only rewriting my first 27 posts to better match them with my current quality standards. Post 83 is planned for late March!

Also, my first 27 posts now list the new homestuck.com page numbers as well as the old MSPA page numbers. Hope I’ll do the rest soon enough.

John leaves his room, and here’s our first impression of his father. A slightly crazy guy that likes comedians, pranks, and clowns. This is where I stop having the impression Hussie just came up with things right off the bat and expanded upon them later; I’m almost certain he always intended for these clowns to become a plot point. Either that, or he decided the harlequin doll was a fun idea to put in the sprite and it naturally progressed into something big from there. I can tell Hussie had too much fun writing the scene with Gamzee where it turned out everything tied together.

You examine the SACRED URN containing your departed NANNA’S ASHES. 

When your father gives her portrait a wistful glance now and then, you can tell it brings back painful memories. A tall bookshelf. A ladder. An unabridged COLONEL SASSACRE’S. 

He never wants to talk about it.

Now the story of Nanna’s death, I’m not sure Hussie planned this much in advance. The mention of Sassacre’s book absolutely is expanded upon from something simple, but I’m a bit surprised that Hussie didn’t build off the parts with the bookshelf and ladder as well. I suppose we are to assume that the bookshelf and ladder parts were fabricated by Dad.

The narration comments on the obvious trope so I don’t have to. What a relief.

John opens his birthday present, revealing a weird harlequin doll. I see this as the start of one of the stranger patterns with the beta kids: each one has a doll that is prototyped into a sprite … or so it seems at first. Hussie devised an equivalent doll for Rose, and then some odd cases for Dave and Jade. Lil’ Cal has more to him than meets the eye, while the blue lady doll is subverted entirely as is expected for Jade’s cases.

The other side of John’s room features more movies significant to Homestuck, most notably Contact and Armageddon; you probably know how much those two are referenced. I think Ghost Dad serves as an example of John’s strange taste in media; the presence of this poster suggests that this infamously bad movie of all things was how he became a fan of household name Bill Cosby.

Oh hey, it’s our first impression of Rose. I’m not going to talk about her role as the second player (or the thing with her hitting on Dave) just yet; instead, I’m going to skip to her character establishing moment because that’s the first time we see something interesting about her. Here goes:

EB: anyway i still haven’t checked the mail, my dad has it. 
EB: i’m trying to go get it from him, so brb 
TT: John. 
EB: what? 
TT: You’re wearing one of your disguises now, aren’t you? 
TT: You are typing to me right now while wearing something ridiculous. 
EB: no, why would you even think that?? 
EB: that’s so stupid. 
TT: Ok. 
TT: Why don’t you go get the game from your father? 
EB: alright, wish me luck. 
EB: oh, btw… 
EB: jk I was wearing a funny disguise this whole time. 
EB: gotcha! hehehehe 
TT: I know, John. 

Rose obviously knows her friends too well, maybe better than they know themselves. Those reading for the first time may think she is a psychic, though if you’re rereading it’s clear that this moment was really just meant to tell that she’s the analyst of the group, who dissects and overthinks everything. Rose’s analyses tend to be either on the spot or upsettingly wrong, as we’ll see starting from her section of Act 1. And there’s just a few characters that are absolute masters at catching her weak spots.

Related to this topic, I’m reminded of Rose’s role as a seer. Right before Act 3 starts, when the beta kids’ aspects are revealed without saying which corresponds to who, most readers think, “oh duh, Rose is the witch and Jade is the seer”. But this passage makes me think Rose was meant to be a seer the whole time, and Jade was later constructed as a massive red herring/plot point character.

I think of Rose’s old role in the story and her character arc as it progresses, and suddenly start to regain just maybe a tiny glimmer of hope for the epilogue and characters that aren’t Dave getting their real resolutions. The comic’s tenth anniversary is coming up so what else can I hope for. Rose has interesting dynamics with many characters other than her now wife, who we barely even saw her talk to after the retcon, wait god dammit I just mentioned the retcon let me backpedal a bit. I’ll get the chance to analyze Rose and Kanaya’s dynamic quite a bit in this rewrite project, which will probably be fun.

I got carried away here, but maybe it’s OK that I did because it’s Rose’s first appearance and all. Take this as an impromptu summary of Rose’s character.

I can smell the birth of the “losing an eye and arm” motif from miles away. 
Well maybe just a few hundred feet.

I would talk about the time John’s peanut allergy is called back to early in Act 6, but that’s really better discussed then instead of now.
Not to mention that I don’t really feel like it.

John plays piano in the comic’s first page with sound. As Hussie stated in his book commentary, these simple sound pages serve as a gradual introduction and easing in to the long, powerful flashes his comic is known for. Starting with John playing piano was a good thing to start with, because it sets the stage for bigger and better things and encourages people to listen with sound to hear these tunes that make flashes what they are.

John goes outside and checks his mailbox, which is empty. You know what comes next.

The title card’s sun “retroactively foreshadowing” NO FUCK THIS

There it is: the title card of Homestuck. As soon as John leaves his house, we get a clear picture of just how much he is…





… confined within the barriers of his own residence.

This page where he examines his empty neighborhood and reflects on a void* in his life is an ideal time for this comic’s title to be dropped; we learn that the outside world—everything that lies outside his home—is an absolute mystery to John. I analyzed the title in my last rewrite post and boy do I not feel like doing it again. It should be obvious that the title of the comic perfectly describes John’s life up to this fateful day.

* a certain rogue just popped in my head, I didn’t intend this but here we are now. the rogue is slyly wonking at all of us.

John has a feeling it’s going to be…





… tough getting those Sburb discs from his father.

And also a long day. By this point, Hussie no doubt had REALLY big plans for this comic.

The inner design of the car resembles early MSPA.

John looks in his dad’s car and sees Chekhov’s green package and Chekhov’s(?) game discs, which Mr. Egbert surely wasn’t planning on kindly handing to John for his birthday, because he’s not a simple man who loves his son. Definitely not.

Also inside the car is a little harlequin thing planted near the inner mirror. I’m thankful this can easily be excused as Dad putting all his care into painting this image for his son.

John then looks in the window and sees another package with Sburb discs. This is exciting news!!! After scouring the level for clues, he is just about ready to fight the stage’s miniboss. It’s great that our hero is careful instead of jumping in firsthand.

The book commentary by my side kindly pointed out that the arm fell into the cake, and that this has ramifications.
 … I never realized that before??? Always assumed the arm was just sliced off.

I’d be surprised if Hussie hadn’t conceived of the arm/eye motif by this point. It’s a universal constant that mostly just kind of exists, but it’s entertaining to see it play off in such a wide variety of ways.

John enters the kitchen, leading to a flash where his father is revealed. This playfully goes along with John’s strange idea that he’s about to fight his game’s first boss. Game as in the comic as a whole, not Sburb.

John’s father sees right through the disguise, which is one of few things that’s happened so far that actually makes real-world sense.

John’s interactive strife with his father sure is a thing that exists. It’s pretty much John and Dad doing their usual battle. Considering this scene, and especially with the similar stuff Rose does which her mother (I already got to that part in the community reread), I’ve been starting to remember that the late comic suffers from severe Dave bias. But in fairness, this scene probably isn’t out of place in a world with captchalogue systems, strife specibi, and name entry boxes. 

In Homestuck, “prank” is a funny word.
As in a weird word. That’s usually what “funny word” means, right?

Pie-in-the-face being the “default prank” is also probably not that out of place in this comic either.

I’m glad John did things the easy way.

Through smoke pellets and then Sassacre’s falling out of John’s inventory, he sets off the smoke detector and success, he can now reap the spoils! He collects Dad’s PDA, the red package, and the Sburb discs.

John could have just asked his father for the Sburb discs, since he badly wants to play the game. I’m sure he would have said yes! But the last thing I want to do is analyze anything as a whole; it more often than not leads to boring nonsense in my experience. Analyzing Act 1 as a whole or in relation to the rest of the comic would just lead to walking in circles, and analyzing the entire comic as a work is pretty much impossible. It goes through so much from start to end; analyzing little bits is so much more fun.

I’m going to skip a bit here…

Nothing to say about this and most surrounding pages. But I feel it’s obligatory to show John’s bathroom.

I very much appreciate Hussie’s choice in an actor for John to idolize.
In the book commentary, he says that only in the world of Homestuck could John be such a big fan of McConaughey.

John goes back to his computer and gets messaged by Dave and Jade.

— gardenGnostic [GG] began pestering ectoBiologist [EB] at 16:34 — 

GG: hi happy birthday john!!!!! ❤ 
GG: helloooooo?? 
GG: ok i will talk to you later!!! 😀 

— gardenGnostic [GG] ceased pestering ectoBiologist [EB] at 16:56 — 

Our first words from Jade are short but quickly establish what sort of character she is: lots of exclamation points, dragged out words, and emoticons. This seems like the obvious choice for a fourth character’s typing and speaking style after we saw those of the other three, and her pesterlog may be meant to establish her general character without revealing much about her. It’s probably not hard for first-time readers to guess from the brevity of this first appearance that Jade is going to be a bit of a mystery character.

I’ll go over Jade’s role as the oddball character gradually as I go through her next few pesterlogs. For now, let it be known that I have more than a few faults with Jade’s story role in the early acts. Also let it be known that Hussie redeems himself by making Jade a super fun character to follow after her dream self dies.

Dave’s conversation with John is, yet again, first teasing each other about movies then Dave asking about the Sburb game and fetch modi in a very NPC manner.

EB: i do things ironically sometimes. 
EB: what about what i sent you for your birthday? 
TG: no those are awesome 
EB: what? no, they’re stupid, which was the joke. the IRONIC joke. get it? 
EB: wait… 
EB: you’re actually wearing them, aren’t you? 
TG: im wearing them ironically 
TG: because theyre awesome 
TG: the fact that theyre ironic makes them awesome 
TG: and vice versa 
TG: are you taking notes on how to be cool?? jesus get a fucking pen 
EB: you do realize they touched stiller’s weird, sort of gaunt face at some point. 
TG: ew yeah 
TG: oh well 

This exchange about Ben Stiller’s shades is quite interesting. I won’t talk about their strong relationship—that’ll be when later acts revisit their presents to each other in some incredibly touching scenes. Instead, I’ll talk about the callback to Problem Sleuth these shades are.

In Problem Sleuth, the Stiller shades are a plot point that somehow leads to the grand climax of the story with reflecting the final light attack or something, I can’t remember. Homestuck brings back those shades in a completely different way: as a symbol of John and Dave’s friendship and an integral part of Dave’s being. There is no iteration of Dave that doesn’t get a hold of these glasses. I think Hussie took full advantage of this design choice, with dream selves being player’s “ideal selves” and such, kind of like how the trolls’ dream selves don’t have their disabilities revealed except for Terezi who is strongly attached to her blindness.

What was I saying here exactly? The main point is, Homestuck tends to bring back elements from prior adventures in ways that have much more of a proper explanation than being “just because”.

TG: anyway speaking of which 
TG: did you get the mail 
EB: yeah. 
TG: did there happen to be a package there 
EB: yeah, there’s a big red one. 
TG: you should probably open it 
EB: i would, but it’s trapped under the sburb beta, so i will probably open it after i install the beta. 
TG: oh man the beta came 
EB: yeah! wanna play it? 
TG: haha no way 
EB: why not! 
TG: it sounds so HELLS of boring just get TT to play it she is all about that 
EB: where’d she go. 
TG: her internet is blinking in and out i guess 
TG: probably be back online soon 
TG: oh and christ in a sidecar are you still using the stack modus??? 
TG: seriously dude 
TG: you need to BONE UP on your data structures that shit is just ridiculous 
EB: ok, i will. 

… And here’s Dave back to his NPC role, giving him more advice about the game. He seems to be pointing John in the direction of getting a modus that isn’t total garbage.

John checks Hussie’s newest comic, themed upon the Midnight Crew. You probably know that Hussie really did plan on following up Problem Sleuth with a Midnight Crew adventure at first. And you definitely know that the Midnight Crew later became real characters in Homestuck, in the fan favorite intermission section.

What’s interesting here is that the times we see the Midnight Crew adventure—first this page, then Dave reading a few more pages, then Jade watching a flash—you can watch the conception of the Midnight Crew intermission in action and how it evolved into to one of the most loved parts of the entire comic. The gray background and the presence of Problem Sleuth characters come off in retrospect as a prototype of the intermission, whose final design felt like a completely different comic! As indicated by the exclamation point, I find that difference to be a good thing.

What the fuck is this.

John installs his Sburb client and is… a little confused? The kids’ reaction to Sburb being a real-world game, or lack thereof, is something I’ll be sure to discuss in the rewrite of post number 3. 

This book, basically a prototype for Karkat’s character, is revisited in Act 2. 
So as with the Midnight Crew intermission, you could say we get to watch his conception in action as we go along.

John decides to go upgrade his modus by looking through programming books in his closet. He comes across a queue modus in there, which has major RPG vibes: finding useful objects in unusual locations. Another thing that makes sense because, well, we’re talking about Homestuck.

Items captchalogued in your SYLLADEX are no longer immediately accessible. You can only use the item on the bottom card, and must wait for items on upper cards to be pushed back to it. 

For instance, the RED PACKAGE is now inaccessible. You can only use the RAZOR at the moment. 

This modus doesn’t strike you as a significant upgrade to your previous one. In fact, it almost seems more inconvenient. You figure you might as well give it a chance though.

And of course, this new modus is presented in a humorous way. The queue modus isn’t even an upgrade to the original modus; I’m sure you’ve played a video game before where an “upgrade” makes it less convenient, either due to a bug or lack of thought put into it.

> John: Switch back to Stack Modus.

You suddenly wonder if this is even possible. You don’t even remember if you ever had a physical card for the STACK MODUS. 

You find this all to be a little abstract and you’d prefer not to think about it too much.

And then the story breaks the fourth wall, or rather, the in-universe fourth wall. I’m not referring to the wall that was hidden in Jade’s lab that takes people to Hussiespace or whatever it’s called. I am referring to the boundary between the comic’s game mechanics and the “video game player” that’s kind of alluded to a few times in this act. Hopefully what I’m saying makes sense. Technically the narration is from John’s perspective, but it really does come off like him just briefly questioning the video game mechanics he lives in.*

* Hussie full out takes a dump on those mechanics when he introduces us to the Kiddie Camper Handysash, and it’s absolutely hilarious.

Put it… 
Down? 
… 
You’re not quite sure you understand.

And then the story goes back to its usual weird mechanics, with John not knowing what it means to “put down” his razor.

I’m skimming over a lot of pages but for some reason I feel obligated to include John losing a bit of hair.

Glass shards galore! The most important part of Homestuck. 
And actually a real symbol of things, kind of. Nobody talks about it though.

More sylladex antics, yada yada yada. Not going to pretend I have anything to say about that stuff.

John manages to get both the package and razor out of his sylladex and…

It’s the real stuffed bunny from his beloved movie, Con Air! With a note of authenticity and everything. John is absolutely delighted. If you think back to John’s conversation with Dave about the Stiller shades, Dave is clearly returning the favor and hinting at a much deeper friendship between the two than meets the eye. The arc in Act 4 where this friendship is revisited is absolutely brilliant and I am looking forward to covering it (again). It’s also one of the more tolerable parts of my early Homestuck posts.

TT: It looks like you managed to retrieve the beta. Excellent. 
TT: I’m going to try to connect. 
EB: whoa ok but i just got the most awesome present. 
TT: The rabbit? 
EB: SO SWEET. 
TT: I’ve heard tales of this wretched creature often. Its Homeric legend is practically ensconced in the fold of my personal mythology by now. 
EB: ha ha, what? 

As he said in his book commentary, Hussie intended for the bunny to become super plot-relevant right from the start and naturally figured out how to do it as he went along. Rose’s line about the bunny and mythology could be seen as breaking the fourth wall. Not the in-universe fourth wall, or rather, not an in-universe fourth wall. Just the regular fourth wall. Though it’s probably fair to assume that in-universe, she knows from Jade how crucial the bunny is.

TT: Why don’t we focus on the matter at hand? 
EB: oh the game, ok. 
EB: i don’t really know how this works. what am i even looking at here? 
TT: You are running the client application. I am running the server, so I am the host user. I have established a connection with you. This is sufficient for us to play the game. 
EB: oh, ok then. 
TT: Why don’t we get started? 

Rose in the early acts was always more of a Player 2 than an NPC, and this log cements it. I think I had plans to talk about NPC roles other than Dave, though maybe he’s the only one that serves such a role so far. And as for Jade, we’ll talk about her later, OK?

And so, John installs Sburb. We get treated to a transforming spirograph symbol with clouds behind it, set to some very strange and specific phrases saying what the installer is doing. I think this flash establishes the mysterious atmosphere of Sburb quite well, while also demonstrating to us that the spirograph is an important symbol of the game; a general signifier that something is related to the game’s cosmic forces.

Stopping here, just as I did in the old version of this post. Next post will be the end of Act 1 and I’ll probably release these rewrites every few days, just like the good old days.

Next => Part 3 Rewritten: Immersive Simulation Gone Apocalyptic

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s