Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 4 Rewritten: Haunting Voices and Coolkid Mishaps

Introduction

Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 >

Act 2, Part 1 of 5

Pages 248-357 (MSPA: 2148-2257)

Link to old version

Keeping this post’s title the same as before. Couldn’t think of a better one.
Also, just warning you: this post is HUGE.

Before we begin Act 2, I’m going to talk about John, then talk about Rose. It’s a longstanding tradition for me to talk at length about characters when they are first introduced, but it’s a little difficult to do with the first two main characters this early on so I’ll talk about them now instead.

I love John Egbert. Have I ever said that? He is a protagonist done right and is the best character other than Caliborn. In many works of media, the protagonist is the main focus but the one people love the most is a wacky side character or someone else in the main group. But in this comic, none of the other three kids I think have quite the same charm as John. Almost every protagonist of the comic’s story arcs (John, Spades Slick, Karkat, Roxy, Meenah) has a distinct kind of charm to them. In Roxy’s case, she wasn’t the original protagonist of her group, but retroactively became the true protagonist because she was the one that turned out to have the most “protagonist charm”. I relate to John a lot; he is extremely honest and doesn’t believe in anything that’s too weird, confusing, or depressing, whether it be complex romance*, Rose’s interest in dark things, or impending inevitable doom. Naturally enough, John is airheaded a lot of the time, but maybe a bit less than you’d think. If you see him lying about something, usually he’s lying to himself, denying something he doesn’t want to be true.

* His later romantic dynamic with Roxy is not complex at all! Just a girl who is as pure-hearted and silly as he is. If Karkat’s explanation is anything to go by, same goes with Terezi blackways.

Rose Lalonde is an underrated character. I really don’t give her enough love sometimes like I do with John. She adores all that is overcomplicated and bizarre and has an intimidating grasp on many such concepts, but fails to see the simple or obvious. Usually, she has a strong command over her friends’ motives and subconscious thoughts, especially those they don’t think are true. What she fails to see leads to a bit of tragedy: first she fails to bond with her mother due to overanalyzing everything she does, then she falls prey to the Horrorterrors and Doc Scratch who speak in mysterious complicated ways that spark her interest, while ignoring any of the simple straightforward warnings that she is messing something up. And then uh… let’s not talk about drunk Rose, OK? Rose’s story is filled with upsetting tragedies that are easy to ignore because the retcon fixes all of them offscreen* and then turns her old self into a psychopathic cat girl who she hates with every ounce of her being. The way her arc is handled in the story is flawed, which would be a bigger issue if the story wasn’t ultimately lighthearted and filled with silly nonsense. Rose’s silly scenes are great and I love them; you just need to read the comic a bit more deeply than usual to fully appreciate them.

* Haha, issues with Kanaya and overattachment to her? What are you talking about??? That’s the new way friendships work in Homestuck, everyone hangs out exclusively in pairs and it’s wonderful!!! (EPILOGUE EDIT: this is no longer true and I am so happy) (EPILOGUE EDIT 2: fml) (EPILOGUE EDIT 3: changed my mind, epilogues are good after all)

In all seriousness, overattachment is a big clutch in those two’s dynamic, right until the point where the comic stops caring and treats it as normal.


The city in the background is either a continuity error or a hint at something that’s never touched upon.
Judging by how blank it looks when John zaps there much later, it seems like Hussie completely forgot what it was supposed to be, if anything.

Now that John’s neighborhood blew up, we time-skip to years in the future (but not many). Where John’s house once stood appears to be an empty stretch of desert. However, there are footsteps of someone out there walking through this wasteland.

That someone is a brand new character, called the “Wayward Vagabond”. To set the mood further, this scene is in a separate page with many panels shown back to back that you don’t need to click ==> to see. I’d guess this is to make it clear this is a side arc and WV is not our new protagonist. Switching the story to a new protagonist after John is killed is Caliborn’s job.

WV uncovers a spirograph logo, the same one we saw throughout the last part of Act 1. What could this possibly mean?

I just now decided that any white text highlighted in purple like above is placeholder text, where I can’t think of something interesting to say but hopefully will think of something interesting in the future. There’s a few parts of this post where you’ll see placeholder text.

Rose starts her Sburb walkthrough, with the standout quote: “i>Since you are reading this, chances are you have installed this game on your computer already. If this is true, like many others, you have just participated in bringing about the end of the world.” This is an “oh shit” moment, probably?

In case you forgot, above is more placeholder text. Thankfully I’ll have a lot more to say about Rose’s walkthrough a little later in this post.

“OH MY GOD DID YOU KNOW APPLES HAVE SYMBOLISM??????”
In memory of TV Tropes’ “How Do You Like Them Apples” trope. Good riddance.

In a chilling flash, we see what happened to John and his home. Our first shot is a silhouette of John, with the apple now bitten. This obviously serves to indicate that the real story just began.

Shortly after, everything outside John’s windows turns black, with the entire image now darkened. A beautifully haunting transition from the prelude to the meat of the story.

Oh hey, it’s WV, everyone’s favorite imp.

We catch glimpses of some haunting monsters in the house. Good use of the trope where the first place someone encounters monsters is under their bed.

This new rendition of John as we zoom out is another signal that the real story has started. He’s shown as a silhouette drawn a bit differently from your usual sprite; a stage in Homestuck’s very gradual art evolution.

Note the PDA standing alone right outside John’s house; the patch of land holding it was suspiciously preserved on the way to the Medium, rather than wiped out. The presence of the PDA and Dad’s car are a very early hint at how predestination works in Homestuck; often, Skaia does just the bare minimum to ensure what needs to happen. Two items very important to the plot are housed within the car.

“you see, there’s this huge organ…”
[I know that’s not exactly what John said but “yes, see, there’s this huge organ…” doesn’t sound as fun so please excuse this]
The kids’ musical instrument motifs other than John’s should have been expanded on more.

And there we have it: John’s new location, in full view. The ring of smoke(?) around it is an interesting touch; maybe it’s to give a small sense of perspective or something?

In a silent flash following this, the kernelsprite splits off, with the white half headed up to the clouds and the black half headed down to, uh, also clouds. At this moment, we only see what John sees; we get a closer look at what happened here through Nannasprite’s exposition sequence a bit later.

After that, we see more of these spirograph logos above John’s house. These lead up to some kind of obscured circle. Again, this is all John can see; by extension, also all Rose can see, as his server player.

Following this moment is a walkaround where John explores his house.

Let’s talk about walkarounds.

If I had to describe Homestuck in one word, it would probably be “experimental”. Not just that it’s a little strange or unconventional, like “experimental music” (which is a horseshit term that only cowards use). Everything about this comic is themed upon the author experimenting with various forms of storytelling, as he finds some ways that work really well and some ways that kind of don’t. For just one example, the author experimented with various ways a hypothetical Midnight Crew adventure play out, with a bit more of it peeked at when John, Dave, and then Jade read it, until that idea evolved into the Midnight Crew intermission, one of the best parts of the entire comic. The walkarounds are one of the more complex examples of the author experimenting with storytelling styles. They start off as video game adaptations of sprite mode scenes, with lots of clicking and walking around. It’s kind of boring to go through every detail of these old walkarounds, where everything seems big and scary and you never know if you’ve completed everything. This problem is made much better when the walkarounds change style to be reminiscent of 16-bit video games, or dare I say Earthbound.

Let’s talk about Earthbound.

Earthbound is a classic RPG that I’ve never played, but is pretty high on my list of games I want to play, along with Mother 3, the sequel that everyone loves. When I first wrote these posts I was completely unfamiliar with any such games—telling because I always referred to the walkaround game art style as 8-bit when 16-bit is more accurate. I’ve now been playing through various games from that era since 2017; the current one I’m going through is Yoshi’s Island and the next might be Final Fantasy VI. Earthbound has inspired countless works of media and Homestuck is but one of them. Sometimes in my posts, I would mention that game when talking about the 16-bit walkarounds in the comic and I think I only did it to sound smart. In fairness, I’ve been told it’s commonly cited in media analysis, even by those that haven’t played it. But I still want to redeem myself, so from here on out I won’t talk much about that game until I sit down and play it, in which case I’ll be sure to have lots more to say about the walkaround games. Maybe I’ll have played other RPGs of its kind in the near future too?

Let’s talk about walkarounds, again.

The 16-bit walkaround games got off to a rocky start with Alterniabound, which is pretty exhausting just like the old walkarounds. But after that point, I absolutely love the style the later walkarounds in Act 5 Act 2 go for! Those walkarounds all do a good job at establishing atmosphere and telling an arc of story, with narration that’s even more video game style than the early acts. Myststuck (the walkaround with Jane on her planet) completely changes things up, as a point-and-click game where it’s much harder to miss parts. It’s one of the highlights of early Act 6 with some cool planet exploration and mysterious tales and kind of makes up for the teen drama that filled up the prior acts. After that comes the controversial Openbound trilogy where we meet the pre-scratch trolls. Say what you will about those characters existing at all, but it’s a really unique change of pace to see new characters introduced this way, appropriately mixed up with scenes following the meteor crew in the old style.

Let’s talk about walkarounds that don’t exist or don’t completely exist.

The end of Homestuck would have been so much cooler if it had one last walkaround game. The closest we got to one after Openbound was a very short and silly callback to Myststuck where John encounters Roxy saying “sup”. Why couldn’t Act 7 have been ANYTHING other than just one animation??????? I was so excited for it to be a crazy walkaround or something instead of everything cutting off before we see the final outcome. The talk I did about point-and-click games reminded me of Hiveswap, which actually had cool narration and gameplay in the first act we saw (read my review if you want) but was in development hell for so many years that it’s hard to appreciate that it exists. Hiveswap should have started after Homestuck was done, not when it was “””almost done”””. I would say “I hope we get another walkaround in the epilogue”, but I can put pretty much anything in the sentence “I hope we get _____ in the epilogue” and mean what I say.

I got way too off track here. Bottom line is, the walkarounds kind of suck at first, then they become amazing, then they stop existing because Hussie is a hack.

So what exactly happens in this walkaround? John explores his entire house, where you can click items and get commands inputted not by the usual player, but by WV. Most of what we learn is pretty useless and just for fun, but it’s important that we now know John’s father is missing and his house is filled with oil. The walkaround also establishes that there is a new voice commanding John, separate from the usual reader inputs. This whole walkaround game is a little boring honestly, but it’s important that it exists because it’s the first of its kind and paved the way for the author figuring out the right way to do walkaround games.

Here’s a small snippet of note from John and Rose’s conversation that follows:

EB: yeah, like where am i?? 
TT: I don’t know that either. But I’ve determined your neighborhood was destroyed by the meteor. Wherever you were transported, it saved you from the impact. 
TT: I’ve been reading reports in the news. Over the last few days, there have been many smaller meteor collisions with people’s homes around the world. 
TT: And they seem to be getting bigger. Yours was the biggest they’ve identified so far. 
EB: wow, ok. 
EB: so then i guess if this is all the game’s doing, then the point is for us to save the world? 
TT: Perhaps. 
EB: then we’d better get moving and figure this game out!!! 

The way I imagined Sburb was advertised, it doesn’t make sense at all that the game would be about saving the world. Maybe advertisements suggested that the end goal was to create a new universe and rule over it, but I imagine John got so hyped about this game that he forgot what it was about and his other friends never understood it either. It’s only natural of John to think that the ending goal is to save the world now that meteors are destroying civilization; he won’t just accept that everything’s gone, especially not if he’s playing a real-life video game.

WV’s strange character as the new player is brought to light as he tries to get John to run across the plank but reluctantly lets him walk it after being told so by narration. That’s how Rose picks up his PDA of course.

The harlequinsprite deftly avoids getting prototyped by the harlequin figurine. Going by what happens later in this act, it seems like the sprite doesn’t want to be prototyped by anything and only by chance do Nanna’s ashes fall onto the sprite. It’s interesting what sprites do and don’t avoid getting prototyped with. I think kernelsprites in non-void sessions avoid getting prototyped by anything other than the right thing, but after that it’s much more free rein; in this case, the sprite avoids getting prototyped by anything because it’s a mischievous clown, which gets carried over after it becomes Nannasprite. In void sessions, kernelsprites don’t have any predestination, which the story takes full advantage of by creating some very strange character blends.

Note the ??:?? timestamps. Evidence that John was sent to another dimension.

This screenshot of Serious Business is yet another peek into Mr. Egbert’s true self. More talk about pipes, ties, and hats, but this time also with discussion about a meteor explosion. I think it’s more likely than not that they all live far away, rather than being John’s neighbors like many speculate.

wellPressedAttire’s topmost line is of particular note. Knowing the clowns John’s house is littered with, “pipefan413 and his enviable collection of pipes” is a bit of a garden path phrase. Wasn’t John’s dad supposed to be an avid collector of clowns??? The truth unfolds in the next act.

TT: John, are you ok? 
TT: You seem a bit tentative. 
EB: i’m fine i guess. 
EB: since i got here i feel compelled to do these weird things i don’t really want to do. 
EB: by some kind of voice that i can’t really even hear. i don’t know, it is hard to explain. 

Here we get a brief look at what it feels like to be commanded by an exile. The commands John got in Act 1 never really had any explanation, barely breaking the fourth wall (second fourth wall if you even remember what that means) at best. But once he’s commanded by an exile, the story switches from adventure game mode to Sburb mode, where everything has a story and an explanation.

WV’s strange commands transition us to his arc again, revealing who the voice commanding John is.

Sburb logo, if the spirograph logo wasn’t enough.
What could possibly be in the other three squares?

Turns out the voice commanding John is WV typing on a keyboard. This represents a shift in storytelling and the player narrative: the “player” stops being an abstract entity and is replaced with a concrete character. It’s a really unique way to connect something abstract with something relevant to the overarching storyline; WV has a deep story behind him and is only now taking the role of the player (as opposed to the playable character).

(click to zoom in)


We take a look at Rose’s Sburb walkthrough again and oh my god how is anyone supposed to read this? Sorry Rose, but you really suck at making walkthroughs anyone on Earth will want to read.

This would’ve been a great walkthrough if it was posted at least a few days before the apocalypse.
Rose doesn’t realize this because she thinks everyone uses big words like her. Fitting that trait is amplified in cool and new web comic.

The walkthrough doesn’t have much use in-story at the moment, but it’s a useful resource for readers, especially those maintaining wikis on the comic. I wouldn’t be surprised if as with the bunny, Hussie figured out an in-story use for the walkthrough as he went along. Even though for the time being it serves mostly as a recap of technical things, we now know that if Rose hadn’t written this walkthrough, then she wouldn’t exist.

Nope.

Nope.

OH SHIT

I have no doubt that Nannasprite’s creation was an accident, not something predestined. Anyway yeah, that’s how that stuff happened. Never underestimate the power of Sassacre’s.

Rose tries to move the cruxtruder so that John can leave the door and get his Sburb discs from the car, but she is out of grist. Lousy girls, wasting valuable currency on toilet antics.

TG: hey bro check it out im working on some new rhymes 
EB: dude, i don’t have time for your nerdy raps! 

“Nerdy raps” is the biggest burn handed on Dave yet. John hands him the cold, hard truth.

TG: come on this is hells of ill just listen 
EB: it sounds like you don’t even believe me that i was about to get blown up! 
EB: but i really was, but now im in some weird dimension that sburb sent me to or something. 
EB: and now on top of that i think i’m being haunted by my dead grandma! 
TG: huh 
TG: for real 
EB: yeah, it’s true but i’ll talk to you later about it! 
TG: i think i could drop some sick rhymes about all this 
EB: man, see i just don’t think all the rapping stuff is really as cool as you think it is. 
TG: no thisll be dope check it 
EB: no, i have to go! bye! 
TG: wait wait 
TG: armageddon’s gettin waged on us 
TG: but im-a gettin armed and dangerous 
[continues on]

Since I’m not a complete coward anymore, I can now admit that there is a real, conceivable way one could interpret Dave as having some form of gay crush on John. He tries to impress him with raps about the movies John obsesses over.

TG: when a plan gone astray pays off a wasted craterous 
TG: ash tray caterin to layers of matt maconnaheys vague remainder-dust 
TG: wait 
TG: uh 
TG: macconahey wasnt even in any of those meteor movies was he 
TG: ill have to make a rap about 
TG: i dont know 
TG: morgan freeman or something 
TG: being the president 
TG: itll be called 
TG: “obama made it so that no one gives a shit about black presidents in movies anymore” 
TG: see youve got to fill me in on whats going on 
TG: so i have something to rap about besides all your dumbshit movies 

It’s pretty funny that Dave doesn’t get his facts right and can never remember anything about McConaughey in particular, not which movies he starred in, and especially not how his name is spelled. I think he really doesn’t like John’s movies at all but tries to pander to him regardless.

I’ll revisit this gay crush or pseudo-crush thing when I get to his “i love him” line. As for Dave acting a way roughly resembling this to Karkat, that’s a whole other can of worms I’d rather not touch with a ten-foot pole. For now, I’ll say Dave probably had some semblance of a crush on all three of his friends. I’ll also say that I think for the most part, the Prospit dreamer kids are insistently not homosexuals, while the Derse dreamer kids are more open to other ideas or leave a lot up in the air.

I’ve somewhat changed my views on homosexual relationships in Homestuck since I made my original posts. Maybe a better word than “changed” is “mellowed out”. I still think there are many ships in the comic that are mind-numbingly stupid and so happen to be homosexual, but the problems with those tend to be that they are poorly presented. I fully admit I’ve said plenty of things in my old posts that could easily come across as homophobic, but I don’t take back all of what I said then. Definitely a fair bit though.

During a clumsy attempt at bringing Dad’s car to John’s vicinity, Rose loses her connection and the car falls down along with a hunk of land.

… Hey, are you ready for another big dump of red herrings?

GG: im back! 
EB: oh hi! 
GG: i went to investigate the explosion i heard 
EB: was it by any chance a meteor? 
GG: yes!!!!! 
GG: how did you know?? 
EB: oh man, it’s kind of a long story! 
EB: anyway, are you ok? did it blow up your yard or start a fire or anything? 
GG: no i am fine! 
GG: it landed a pretty good ways from my house and i went to look at it 
GG: and its pretty big! 
GG: but bec doesnt want me to go near it 
GG: so i came home 
GG: he seems to think its dangerous! 
EB: well gosh, he’s probably right! 

This is one of the more interesting red herring conversations we see. Jade’s descriptions of events aren’t vague or anything; she actually talks like a completely normal person! Her descriptions of meteors outside her house line up with John and Rose’s experiences, just with a few twists.

The rest of this conversation is pretty much more of this; not much interesting, just them catching up a bit and Jade leaving some kind of inspiring words? I’m looking forward to covering how we see it from Jade’s perspective.

John has a similar conversation catching up with Dave, with setup for a bit of a mystery arc that doesn’t need to be explained much: Dave says he lost his Sburb discs in an embarrassing sequence and will need to get his brother’s discs. I’ll go over that a bit more when we see it from Dave’s perspective later in this post.

The interesting part of this conversation is the visuals, where we see John smiling with Jade but bickering hard with Dave. That’s the difference between liking someone and loving someone right there. 

The laptop’s cozy (noun) is a good demonstration of Rose’s hidden depths.

As we switch perspective to Rose, the story takes a moment to emphasize her interest in knitting. It’s a good way to remind us that interest exists, probably so that readers are surprised to find that John got her into knitting through a birthday present.

> Rose: Knit plush cuddle-cthulhu to soothe nerves.

That would also be a preposterous waste of time!!! 

Besides, you’re quite sure you’ve never heard of this creature called “Cthulhu” before. There are however many other specimens of the ZOOLOGICALLY DUBIOUS you’re familiar with. 

This line may be a one-off gag, but it makes complete sense that Rose would not be into those old books everyone knows by names such as Lovecraft. Instead she’s interested in the weird and obscure.

Nice Problem Sleuth reference.

Rose’s book is some kind of documentation of some gruesome elder gods of extreme darkness. [TODO: Compare to Dave’s interest in paleontology maybe?]

^ I’m leaving that to-do note intact because I have no idea what I meant by it. Why did I decide paleontology and elder gods were related, did I write that at 2 in the morning?

EDIT: I’m currently working on a rewrite of post 5; in that post, I will compare the narration describing Horrorterrors to some similar narration describing wizards and discuss what it means for Rose’s character.

[TODO: Something other than stating the obvious]

“The obvious” here refers to that this foreshadows the fenestrated wall thing from Problem Sleuth, which is revisited when we meet Roxy. I absolutely cannot think of anything cool to say here that isn’t stating the obvious, sorry about that.

The clouds revealing a meteor shower don’t show us much new, but it looks really beautiful.

When Rose briefly steps outside, we get a callback to the comic’s title screen flash with John, with some verbose poetry and a misattributed quote, this time much more blatant than before. This time the poetry is themed upon symbolism in endless rain, which has gone so long it forgot its purpose and now mostly just makes Rose’s world look gloomy.

The beta kids’ boys live near lots of people while the girls live isolated.
The alpha kids do the opposite, with the boys living isolated.
I don’t know if that was intentional, but it’s a nice touch.

After this point, we see Rose’s house in full. Her house and its location suggest that she and her mother are both a bit eccentric and more mysterious than John. I’ll discuss the escalating strangeness between our four heroes very shortly.

Rose prepares for an encounter with her mother when all of a sudden…

There’s this really cool dude, ok?

Let’s talk about this really cool dude, ok?

Everyone loves Dave Strider, perhaps a bit too much. It’s easy to see why everyone loves him. For one thing, he has easily the best sense of humor out of the beta kids. His lines make me laugh again and again after all this time, with sarcastic commentary on weird things that happen and silly overcomplicated metaphors. The commentary on weird things starts as questioning tropes in John’s favorite movies and later evolves to questioning tropes in Homestuck itself. Like John, Dave deep down has a strong affinity for simple things and can only be sarcastic about anything that’s crazy and complex. Also like John, he’s in denial about many harsh or sappy things, in a much more blatant way than John. And like Rose, he has a knack for stating truths about others that they don’t want to admit. Dave’s idea of joy in life is chilling out, drinking apple juice, and making these elaborate ironic shitpost works of art; maybe studying a bit of paleontology for good measure. He deeply loves his friends, especially John, for bringing him such joy, even if he won’t admit it outright.

It’s even easier to see why everyone loves Dave a bit too much. The beta kids have a progression where each one has a stranger home life than the last, starting at John and ending at Jade. Dave falls into a bit of an uncanny spot here: if you take the early comic seriously enough, his childhood life could come across as outright abusive. John and Rose have some parent issues, while Jade’s is so wacky and strange that it’s hard to think of in any human terms. Related to this line of thought, it’s no secret that I think the late comic is EXTREMELY biased towards Dave. His arc and resolution get more attention than probably anyone else’s. For this reason, many people say Dave is the character with the best development. I disagree on that point: he may have had the most development, but the one with the best development is Terezi without a doubt. I’ll save discussion of Terezi’s arc when we meet her in person.

It’s a fact of life that complaints stick out to people a lot more than compliments do, so I feel like I need to make something clear: Dave is a wonderful character and the comic wouldn’t have even a fraction of its appeal without him. It’s just that the storyline sometimes gets carried away with him over other characters.

With this giant wall of text out of the way, I think I can talk about Dave’s introduction now.

There’s this really cool dude, ok? He’s standing around being all chill, like cool dudes are known to do sometimes. A cool dude like this probably has a real cool name. But he probably wouldn’t just tell you what it was if you asked. He’d be way too busy for that. Busy being totally sweet. 

But you could always try to guess his name. And if you were right, he might nod ever so slightly. That’s a cool dude’s way of letting you know there might just be hope for you yet.

Our first glimpse at Dave’s room shows us a lot of Problem Sleuth callbacks: the cinderblocks, the style of tables he has going, the picture of Snoop Dogg, and of course, his Stiller shades. The text accompanying it shoves in our face that he’s supposed to be the “cool dude” archetype. Or at least, that’s what he thinks he wants to be. And that archetype is going to be shoved hard in the next pages.

Dave makes a slightly confused face but then slices his naming box in half. How’s that for a character establishing moment? And by character I don’t mean Dave himself, just his coolkid character.

Instead of putting on even a slight smile, Dave’s shades simply flash with a picture of outer space. A silly little Problem Sleuth reference, which matches appropriately with this new character.

Imagine a world where the snake thing above the swords turned out to be an important part of the comic…

In Dave’s room, there’s a lot to unpack. On the left, we see a bit more of the conception of the Midnight Crew intermission; we catch a glimpse at the Felt on the right. The pack of dead things to the right of those posters is a bit of an oddball, which Roxy gets a little callback to and is then discussed in earnest much later, somewhat like I did a few paragraphs ago. Can’t forget the pictures of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, completing the Problem Sleuth trinity. Also can’t forget the poster of Squarewave and Sawtooth, another thing from way later whose conception we see right here. Maybe those two were intended to be characters from an in-universe TV show or something? Sadly, whatever that poster was originally intended to be is probably lost to the sands of time, if Dave’s reaction to seeing that poster years later is anything to go by. In that scene, Hussie probably improvised and decided that Dave never knew who those characters were but likes the poster anyway.

Your name is DAVE. It is an UNSEASONABLY WARM April day. Your BEDROOM WINDOW is open to let some air in, and your FAN is cranked. Arguably even more cranked would be your FLY BEATS, which brings us to your variety of INTERESTS. A cool dude like you is sure to have plenty. You have a penchant for spinning out UNBELIEVABLY ILL JAMS with your TURNTABLES AND MIXING GEAR. You like to rave about BANDS NO ONE’S EVER HEARD OF BUT YOU. You collect WEIRD DEAD THINGS PRESERVED IN VARIOUS WAYS. You are an AMATEUR PHOTOGRAPHER and operate your own MAKESHIFT DARKROOM. You maintain a number of IRONICALLY HUMOROUS BLOGS, WEBSITES, AND SOCIAL NETWORKING PROFILES. And if the inspiration strikes, you won’t hesitate to drop some PHAT RHYMES on a mofo and REPRESENT. 

Dave’s introduction page is interesting because most of these interests are put on the backburner and forgotten about; just a few are expanded on, most notably his humorous interests in the form of Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff. The rest are largely revisited late in the comic when Dave talks about interests of his that the story forgot about prior. I don’t see this revisitation as Dave bias; the other three’s interests from their introduction pages have always been much more prominent in the story than Dave’s interests, so in a way this is fixing bias against Dave. Keep in mind that not everything that occurs late in the comic is bad—far from it, actually! It’s just that the bad stuff really sticks out.

> Dave: Quickly retrieve arms from cinderblocks.

Nah.

This one-word response to the “retrieve arms” command is so funny I can’t get over it. It’s another simple character establishing moment.

> Dave: Get the damn beta and save your friend’s life!

This notion strikes you as nonsensical. You can’t imagine how a video game could save someone’s life, and in any case, you’re quite sure no one you know is in any danger. 

This little passage is important because it establishes the timeframe we’re in. Only through Homestuck narration could this information be established in such a clear, logical way. It also helps that we see Dave’s copies of Sburb right here, before he lost them.

Anyway, these are your copies of the beta you received in the mail recently. You’ve labeled them with your name in BOLD RED PRINT to distinguish them from your BRO’s copies, who labeled his in kind. Neither of you really gives a shit about this game or has any intention of playing it, but you’ll be damned if you’ll let that get in the way of your campaign of one-upmanship.

Here Dave gives us a bit of unreliable narration about his guardian. Read between the lines a bit and you’ll see that Dave convinced himself things about Bro that aren’t quite true. There’s evidence that Bro Strider knows of Sburb and gave Dave copies because he think they’re both supposed to play it, but maybe Dave thought his bro was being ironic when he said that game was important to all of existence.

> Dave: Bleat like a goat and piss on your turntable.

You would never consider allowing any fluid even remotely resembling urine to touch your beloved TURNTABLES. That would risk breaking them, and a world without the gift of your godly science just doesn’t sound like a place you want any part of. 

Though Jade is commonly regarded as the kids’ pattern-breaker, Dave already toys with the existing patterns quite a bit, as established when he sliced his naming box in half. In this case, the “___ like a ___ and ___ on your ___” command isn’t a one-off like the last two were.

The pissing part of that prophecy is command is fulfilled just a few pages from now… [cont’d]

While you’re at it, you might as well wipe out human civilization with a meteor or something ridiculous like that which will probably never happen. 

That sort of thing only happens in stupid idiot movies for stupid idiots.

This passage has interesting implications about Dave’s exposure to movies and the kids’ exposure to media in general. It seems like a lot of his knowledge of movies come from John talking about, and presumably getting Dave to watch, the ones he loves. He hates those movies but seems to frequently find himself thinking about them or even rapping about them to try and impress John.

[cont’d] … but the bleating like a goat prophecy isn’t fulfilled until thousands of pages later. Both prophecies are filled in the most convoluted ways imaginable and I love it.

This is the package that your friend John Egbert sent you for your 13th birthday a little while ago. It now contains nothing except a NOTE and a CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY vouching for the genuine Hollywood memorabilia which the box originally contained, and which you are now wearing to be IRONIC but also to be INCREDIBLY COOL IN A WAY SOMEHOW INTANGIBLY RELATED TO THE IRONIC NATURE OF THE ACCESSORY. You find it sort of exasperating to explain these subtleties to people. 

Dave finds it exasperating to explain these subtleties because deep down he knows he’s lying to himself.

The BOX also included a signed photo of BEN STILLER which now proudly hangs above your closet. Proudly and IRONICALLY.

This passage makes me think it would be cool if the story explained the other two photos—Wilson and Snoop—hanging in Dave’s room. Surely those two had stories just as cool as the Stiller pic, right? Or maybe it makes more sense that the trifecta was incomplete for the longest time until Dave got the picture of Stiller.

In the scratched world, Dirk’s pictures of Stiller, Wilson, and Snoop are there in the exact same places as Dave’s and it’s not hard to see why. Stiller and Wilson starred in Dave’s movies and although Snoop didn’t, I wouldn’t doubt Dave in that universe had connections to him.

This dramatization of simple apple juice is truly a sight to behold. Dave fucking loves that drink so much.
Maybe this apple juice was a secret present from Bro? Maybe just a tiny bit of love from the guy slipped through the cracks…

Oh hell yes. It is an unopened container of APPLE JUICE. You thought you were all out. It is like fucking christmas up in here. 

Here’s where the story does something really interesting. I’ll let past me speak for himself on John and Dave’s first pesterlog:

The first half (way more than half) of this conversation […] is yet another small thing that’s later extrapolated upon into something real. In this case, when we get introduced to Dave and see this conversation from his perspective, the stuff he is talking about actually makes some amount of sense. And the implications thereof are certainly a thing of their own; Hussie has way too much fun extrapolating Dave’s character as the comic goes on.

Most things that occurred in the first 50 pages or so didn’t seem to have all that much meaning or thought put in; just done as the author went along. I don’t think he intended at first that he’d revisit what Dave described in that conversation in such a literal way, but that’s what he ended up doing and there’s no going back.

Also I like how “christmas” isn’t capitalized in the narration above. It makes it just the slightest bit more obvious that we’re seeing the first pesterlog in the comic, but from Dave’s side.

This is so great. You’ve got to tell John about this immediately. He’ll be so excited.

When Dave finds this unopened apple juice, the first thing he thinks of seems to be the apple juice scene in Little Monsters. As I suggested earlier in this post, it’s clear that impressing John and making him happy is in Dave’s mind a lot more than you think.

In addition to letting your buddy know about this outstanding juice windfall, you figure you’ll wish him a happy birthday while you’re at it. In your own cool, sort of roundabout way of course. Good thing you looked at that box he sent you, or you might have forgotten. 

You also might as well ask him about that beta. The kid’s been harping about it for weeks. It would be cool if it came on his birthday. He’d be one happy camper.

Bro teaching Dave about fetch modi is only half of the in-universe explanation for Dave’s NPC role. The other half is simply that Dave loves John. A mundane reason, but makes a surprising amount of sense.

Not surprisingly, Dave uses a more advanced version of Pesterchum than John and Rose.
… Remember when “modern web design” meant everything was all flashy and 3D? I don’t know about you, but back then I imagined that was what the future would look like.
Can’t say Homestuck isn’t a product of its time.

TG: hey so what sort of insane loot did you rake in today 
EB: i got a little monsters poster, it’s so awesome. i’m going to watch it again today, the applejuice scene was so funny. 
TG: oh hell that is such a coincidence i just found an unopened container of apple juice in my closet it is like fucking christmas up in here 

This conversation makes a scary amount of sense from Dave’s perspective, it never fails to impress me. The author recontexualized it in a way that makes perfect sense, helped by the fact that Dave’s home life is two tiers of weirdness above John’s.* John’s idea of special is getting a Little Monsters poster, while Dave’s is miraculously finding an unopened container of his favorite drink.

Differences like this make me glad the story later on gives you the option to first see things first from one perspective, or first from another perspective, in character selection screens. However, I don’t think any of the different perspectives are quite as fun and surprising as this conversation. (EPILOGUE EDIT: I stand corrected)

* If it wasn’t obvious what the tiers of weirdness mean, Dave is one tier above Rose and one tier below Jade.

EB: ok thats fine, but i just have one question and then a word of caution. have you ever seen a movie called little monsters starring howie mandel and fred savage? 
TG: but 
TG: the seal on the bottle is unbroken 
TG: are you suggesting someone put piss in my apple juice at the factory 
EB: all im saying is don’t you think monster howie mandel has the power to do something as simple as reseal a bottle? 
EB: try using your brain numbnuts. 

If the first time we saw this conversation was from Dave’s perspective, John would come off as a bit of a weirdo. He seems like a huge movie nerd who refers to characters by the actors who play them (this isn’t the first time I said that), indicating a major investment in those 90’s movies as a whole. It also indicates, out-of-universe, that the author wants to emphasize the strange role celebrities play in this comic, which is something I’ve been thinking of writing a mini-post about. Maybe when I get to a certain part in Act 3.

TG: why did the fat kid or whoever drank it know what piss tasted like 
TG: i mean his reaction was nigh instantaneous 
EB: it was the 15th day in a row howie mandel peed in his juice. 
TG: ok i can accept that 
TG: monster B-list celebrity douchebags are cunning and persistent pranksters 
TG: also fred savage has a really punchable face 

John is a movie nerd, as I just established. But Dave knows just enough about this movie to indicate something about his dynamic with John: he hates those movies, but indulges in them with his friend anyway. This moment establishes Dave’s character in a way I didn’t realize before: it’s his first time dissecting movies and snarking about their tropes. Given that the first half of this conversation is adapted from a conversation Hussie had with a real-life friend, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dave’s entire trait of commenting on tropes was built from this conversation like many of John’s traits were. Hey, I’m learning something new!

TG: but who cares about this lets stop talking about it 
TG: did you get the beta yet 
EB: no. 
EB: did you? 
TG: man i got two copies already 
TG: but i dont care im not going to play it or anything the game sounds boring 
TG: did you see how it got slammed in game bro???? 
EB: game bro is a joke and we both know it. 
TG: yeah 
TG: why dont you go check your mail maybe its there now 
EB: alright. 

Hopefully by now, it’s obvious how Dave’s NPC role reads differently from his perspective.

Dave uses Blogger just like me, which is why he’s the best character.
Actually it doesn’t make him the best character. Back in 2009 Blogger was used by people other than 40-year-olds and miscellaneous weirdos.

The SBaHJ comic summaries are the only good part of the MSPA wiki.

AND SO A LEGEND BEGINS. All hail Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff. Except for those that say “I warned you about the stairs”, they deserve to be shoved down 50 million flights of stairs.

I’m really happy that this shitpost comic is part of Homestuck canon. Teenagers on the Internet like to speak in memes, that’s a fact. But using real-world memes would quickly make the comic seem dated or trying to capitalize on what’s relevant. So how does Hussie handle this real fact about real teenagers? He creates his own fountain of memes and makes it part of the comic. It’s even better that this meme world was written by one of the main characters of the story, not some in-universe author. Wait what am I saying, in Homestuck “main characters” and “in-universe authors” are synonymous unless you count Hussie’s self-insert. All four of the Derse dreaming kids have written their own works of fiction; Rose after the scratch is arguably the in-universe author.

Dave checks the Midnight Crew adventure and we get a bit more of it fleshed out than when John read it.

“You are members of a sinister gang called the Midnight Crew. Your nefarious plots are serpentine in complexity. Your schemes, convoluted. You are planning a heist in your underground hideout. 

What will you do?”

The text of Midnight Crew’s first page is a reskin of the text of Problem Sleuth’s first page. A bit of self-deprecation perhaps? The Midnight Crew adventure is a big dump of self-satire. It’s scary how well it predicts how convoluted Homestuck would end up, as we see when Jade reads the adventure.

This Midnight Crew adventure is pretty fun, with some strange puzzle-solving reminiscent of Problem Sleuth. But it feels a bit dated when you compare it to the Midnight Crew intermission, the glorious culmination of this hypothetical adventure. The Intermission is the full Midnight Crew adventure.

You don’t remember where you last left off, so you jump way ahead. You always forget to save your place in the story. 

Dave is an exaggeration of how some readers experienced Homestuck, while the Midnight Crew adventure is an exaggeration of Homestuck itself. After a hundred pages or so, the crew seems to have regressed in progress and are now beating each other up.

Even though the adventure began recently, it’s already over 3000 pages long. You just don’t have time for this bullshit. You’ll catch up later. 

The absurd length of the adventure is an exaggeration of Homestuck too. Well, an exaggeration of Homestuck at the time before there were trolls and all that. Homestuck at this point was 300 some pages and had gone for a few months, while the Midnight Crew adventure has gone one for only a few weeks and is ten times as long.

It’s the first Dave/Rose conversation! Dave’s conversations with characters are always gold, but with Rose they’re easily the most gold, at least until Karkat comes along.

TT: In some cultures the persistent refusal of a lady’s invitation to play a game with her would be a sign wanton disrespect. 
TT: Either that, or flagrant homosexuality. 
TG: what oh no 
TG: no look 
TG: im busy ok 
TG: ive got a lot of shit on my plate 
TG: i am sort of a big deal ok? 
TT: I know. 
TT: Sometimes I wonder how you are ever allowed to pay for meals in restaurants. 
TT: It must be hard to keep a low profile when you’re always overhearing awed voices whisper, “It’s that guy who has a blog.” 

Oh hey, here’s the start of Rose’s playful flirting with Dave. Years ago, I would have talked about characters’ sexual orientations and complained about Dave’s weird out-of-character sexuality arc. But now, to demonstrate how my views have changed, I’m going to interview myself.

Q: Does Rose like boys?
A: Who gives a fuck.
Q: Does Dave like boys?
A: Who gives a fuck.
Q: What do you think of Dave’s ramble on sexuality and stuff?
A: Can we talk about something else please?
Q: What do you think of shipping Dave and Karkat?
A: What did I just tell you?
Q: What do you think of shipping Roxy and Ca—
A: Fuck you.

There, that’s the end of the interview.

I think Rose’s quips to Dave are a completely separate matter from her actual romance arc. She’s a little like this with all her friends, but as with John, what she really wants romantically is not complicated at all: just someone she can indulge in her snooty complicated nonsense with. That someone overcomplicates things way too much herself, which leads to frustrating and upsetting moments abound. Until the author decides to take the easy way out and give their new retconned selves a perfect happy ending.

After a big dose of Rose’s pseudo-flirting, we get an exchange about Sburb:

TG: oh for fucks sake 
TG: youre just lobbying for me to play that dumb game 
TT: Baseless accusation! 
TG: look i am telling you 
TG: egbert is ALL ABOUT that game 
TG: he will play it with you and probably be tickled retarded about it 
TT: I know this very well. 
TT: I cannot hasten his mail’s delivery, however. 
TG: yeah yeah 
TG: ill hassle him some more about it 
TG: and look how about this 
TG: if you ever find yourself in the position where your life depends on me playing that piece of shit game, then ill play 
TG: will that make you happy 
TT: More than you know. 
TT: It perfectly mollifies my grief over the demise of chivalry. 

Dramatic irony, we all know this. We also get a bit more reason why Dave was trying to get John to start Sburb. Dave’s next few conversations with John happen offscreen; we don’t really need to see those again.

JOHN WHAT ARE YOU DOING. STOP DOING NOTHING.
The slower I read Homestuck, the funnier that command is. That’s a proven fact.

[TODO: talk about oil mystery arc or something]

^ I’ll probably discuss this in the next few posts or something.

JOHN DO THE WINDY THING
JOHN DO THE WINDY THING
JOHN DO THE WINDY THING
DO THE WINDY THING

Fitting with the way Dave handles patterns, his musical instrument flash puts a bit of a spin on the last two: you can play various combinations of preset beats on his mixer, leading to a bit of creative freedom.

Dave is about to drink his delicious apple juice, but Little Monsters creeps into his head and he can’t do it. John has done a lot to this poor kid.

Your STRIFE SPECIBUS is already allocated with the BLADEKIND ABSTRATUS! There is no need to allocate it. 

It only makes sense that Dave had already allocated his specibus before the story started. It matches with his original NPC role, the way he slightly toys with the kids’ patterns, and how Bro has been preparing him for this game for a long time.

“You would never consider allowing any fluid even remotely resembling urine to touch your beloved TURNTABLES.”
If only the narration hadn’t said that and thereby guaranteed it would happen…

Earlier (but later from Dave’s perspective), we got this bit of conversation between Dave and John:

TG: my copy? 
TG: thats going to be tough 
EB: why? 
TG: i lost it 
TG: its a stupid story and id rather not talk about it 
TG: shit be embarrassing yo 

Dave says the story of how he lost his discs is embarrassing. Since he’s supposed to be John’s mentor for the story’s video game mechanics, it only makes sense that he’s embarrassed that he lost his discs through sylladex fuckups.

Naturally enough, as soon as Dave leaves his room we see a sample of his guardian’s main interest: puppets upon puppets upon more goddamn puppets. This pattern isn’t really subverted; it’s just played to a bigger extreme than John’s clowns and Rose’s wizards. It’s also a pattern where, in a way, John is the one who breaks it as we see in the next act.

The bathroom is where things get a bit unsettling. John’s bathroom simply has a clown mat in it, but Dave’s bro has a puppet hanging inside his shower for some reason? His bathroom is much smaller than John’s while we’re at it.

Dave cleans up the mess with a towel and then leaves his Sburb beta to dry. He notices that his fan blowing makes it a bit risky to store them that way, so he turns it off.

Next Dave is about to pester John when all of a sudden…

Corresponding animals are another case where John is the pattern breaker.
Sadly, the John who was half Harry Anderson and half Maplehoof the dear departed pony will have to stay in our imagination.
EPILOGUE EDIT: The Harry Anderson who was half John and half the owner of Maplehoof the dear departed pony is a way different story.

First time a character speaks out loud, I think.
The start of a pattern where characters can only speak out loud in esoteric ways, until they achieve god tier.

Yeah, that kind of just happened. No wonder Dave is so embarrassed by this story. He always rips on John for mishaps but ends up messing up worse than he did.

No one can ever know about this.

And then we get a slight peek into Dave’s soft side. He accidentally killed a bird and makes the most embarrassed face we’ve seen yet.

A psycheout transitions us back to Rose and I’m stopping here. Maybe I’ll discuss psycheouts in earnest in a later post or something, I don’t know.

Damn was this post a big one! Maybe the rest of the Act 2 posts won’t be this long, but we’ll have to see. See you next time as John heads over to the Grandmotherly Expositation Station for some nice grandmotherly expositation.

Next => Part 5: The Crutch of Cinematic Troglodytes

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