Pages 562-665 (MSPA: 2462-2565)
Act 2, Part 4 of 5
Link to old version
Haha… haha… ha ha … ha …….
Dave explores the rest of his living room and here’s where the creepiness factor escalates. It all starts with this moment:
> Dave: Take expensive ninja sword.
This page is a shockingly simple way to establish the day-to-day nature of Dave’s home life.
As I said in my first rewritten post, early Homestuck has a habit of revisiting the running gags of the prior adventures and giving them a new context. Every instance of the “what pumpkin?” gag in Homestuck has some broader reason behind it, sometimes involving technology. This instance of the gag is a character establishing moment for Dave’s bro.
When I got these pages in my old posts, I was nothing short of creeped out. Maybe it’s because two pages in a row show Bro flash stepping and moving stuff around, subverting all expectations in the process.
Bro’s comic on the wall is lifted from Hussie’s old works and I think you already know how that little thing is expanded on. And boy was it worth it. The best character in Homestuck would not exist if not for that comic.
Oh god, Dave’s kitchen. Out of all parts of Dave’s home, this is probably the easiest to make Cerebus syndrome out of. There is nothing even remotely related to food in there.
It goes without saying that in Homestuck’s world that the Saw series was subconsciously inspired by Lord English.
“Without saying” as in not even Hussie has ever said it. But it’s obvious as shit, come on.
There is, however, a webcam that automatically films puppet videos. The story always calls the puppet stuff “porn” which makes me think of how Caliborn thinks people holding hands and eating cake counts as porn. I hope Hussie is reading this and thinking “oh shit, you’re right”.
Dave decapitates the Saw doll, which is more unintentional foreshadowing. Or at least I assume it’s unintentional? I assume so because nobody talks about this scene.
How does Dave do this? Dave’s big jump(?) to avoid getting decimated by shurikens is evidence that this is pre-“Cerebus syndrome”.
(It’s no secret that I’ve put countless hours into browsing TV Tropes. Like, it’s painfully obvious to anyone with a brain.)
Next is a few pages parodying computer programming. Dave’s modus, as we learn, has an option for Scrabble point values. One could see this as a way to ease the transition into Jade’s modi based on board games.
In the old version of this post, I said that Dave’s bro probably is an absolute master at Scrabble and might have trained Dave to become good at it too. It makes sense considering that Dirk has a vocabulary on par with Rose. Maybe the guy slaps his tiles onto the board at his ultra ninja speed and kicks little Dave’s ass every time they play with his obscure words calibrated to get the best possible combinations of triple score squares. <- the blue text is borrowed from the old post
You take the SKATEBOARD (6).
Actually, no you don’t. A collision has been detected.
You take the… uh…
Man, your inventory’s nomenclature is getting lamer by the minute.
Hussie loves coming up with strange words for everyday things. As such, Dave’s clumsy spellings of words can be seen as a predecessor to troll terminology. I thought that myself, then realized the book commentary said the same thing I just said.
You take the BATTERY PACK (8). Dammit.
You take the BATTERY PACK (9), using the ‘Y’ as a consonant. Your sylladex reluctantly accepts.
It’s a tactic notoriously employed by hashmap noobs, but you just don’t care about that now. Besides, it’s not like your BRO is around to see.
“It’s not like your bro is around to see” kills two birds with one stone, which is way cooler than killing one bird with one sword. The first bird is emphasis that Bro is an expert at Sburb’s mechanics and has been preparing Dave for the game for many years. The second is emphasis that Bro is flash stepping around the whole house, so fast that Dave doesn’t notice. Actually, since the two birds are killed, maybe the birds are actually lack of emphasis of those I mentioned and the lack of emphasis is killed, thereby creating emphasis.
Good way at conveying Dave is terrified without changing his facial expression. Not enough people appreciate the little exclamation points that show up throughout the comic.
Oh god more shitty swords.
Of course you knew these were in here. You’re not even sure why you looked.
If you want to keep any food or beverages in this apartment, you’ve pretty much got no choice but to hide stuff away in your closet.
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK
Dave much later states that he had to learn the real purpose of a refrigerator from movies, which lines up surprisingly well with what we know about him so far. Also, we learn a bit more meaning behind Dave’s line about finding an unopened container of apple juice in his closet. Sometimes I’m made uncomfortable by how much Homestuck was shaped by those 80’s and 90’s movies; if there were no references to Little Monsters, Dave’s home life might not be as interesting as it is.
The ice maker hides cherry bombs. Yeah, I think I’m going to pass on deciphering this one.
You go for the CHERRY BOMBS (9) unsuccessfully.
After mulling it over a bit, you take the RED SPHERICAL SALUTES (1).
“Red spherical salutes” is such a Hussie phrase, holy shit. If Homestuck wasn’t all written by one person, maybe Dave’s words to fit his modus wouldn’t seem so close to troll terminology.
It’s the hatch to the crawlspace above your apartment. BRO’S always tucking away in there when he’s busting out his rad stealth stunts. He’s so slick that dangling cord never even jostles.
You just know he’s being ironic with these weird mind games. There’s no way anyone could be serious about aping those shitty movies.
Yes, shitty movies. There’s no connections to Lord English here or anything.
“Oh, it’s just ironic” is Dave’s favorite excuse. He likes making fun of movies and I’m sure Bro does too to a degree. But because Saw is almost certainly inspired by Lord English in Homestuck’s universe, I think we know the real reason Bro referenced that movie. That puppet did way too much to him.
> Dave: Use the turntables and cinderblocks to make a fort.
It’s a pretty sweet fort you just made and you’re pretty sure your brother would agree. Under different circumstances, you might be high-fiving over it right now.
Another line with small hints at a positive aspect of Dave and Bro’s relationship. It should be clear by now that there are positive aspects hinted at a few times, but vastly drowned by the negative aspects.
And there we have it. The iconic moment. I’m perpetually amazed that everything Dave said in that pesterlog is true in the most literal way possible.
TG: ok wait hold on why am i getting this stupid game for you
TG: youre the one who should be wrist deep in puppet ass
TT: What is the specific problem?
TG: the problem is i am up to my goddamn neck in fucking puppet dong
TT: You know you like the mannequin dick. Accept it.
TG: i am enrobed in chafing, wriggling god fucking damned puppet pelvis
TG: an obscenely long, coarse kermit cock is being dragged across my anguished face
TT: Let’s put this into perspective. You put up with the puppet prostate because you love it.
TT: Also, coarse is a good word.
TG: you dont seem to harbor any sympathy for the fact that ive burrowed fuck deep into lively, fluffy muppet buttock
Also true in a literal way is that Dave is not amused at all by Rose’s jokes. We can tell here that he is upset Rose doesn’t sympathize, instead just making fun of him more.
This conversation overall reads so differently from Dave’s perspective it’s unreal.
Ah yes, this iconic note. Bro’s writing is incredibly succinct, followed by a SBaHJ reference. It doesn’t quite match with how Dirk talks, which is like Rose but with a bit more slang. But it makes sense in retrospect, because it’s emphasized that Bro is a splinter of Dirk that got nightmarishly out of hand and that Dave doesn’t even slightly know his guardian.
Act 2 is a bit too slow paced for my liking; I’ll discuss it at the end of next post.
Dave has been trained well enough to quickly slice a bunch of puppets. This is a super cool panel and a fitting point for Dave to be the other guy.
This is so much fun.
A huge waste of time, yes. BUT SO MUCH FUN.
Important fact: boys in Homestuck love building forts.
… Wait no, Roxy loves building forts and she is a girl. So what do I say instead? The beta boys and the alpha girls? Damn it, this isn’t what I wanted.
Whatever. My point is, forts are awesome. And that’s all there is to say on the matter.
The other Lalonde would never commit such an atrocity. She would have high-fived John for making an awesome fort.
Important fact 2: girls in Homestuck hate fun.
… This isn’t true at all. Only Rose does. Rose is a monster for throwing away John’s fort. How dare her.
I skipped like 10 pages. What are you going to do about it?
… I’m not a huge fan of Act 2.
Compared to the other acts, at least.
Here’s where we finally get to see the whole alchemy system in action. First, it’s used to clone existing objects.
“dskjhsdk” is permanently ingrained in my memory.
Naturally enough, the keyboard mashing is used to generate something plot-relevant. The rocket pack with junk stuck inside is a symbol of the cooperation between the kids, as well as the cooperation between the trolls and the kids. Intracooperation and intercooperation respectively, if you will. (If you have trouble remembering which is “intra” and which is “inter”, think of interstate highways which go through many states.)
After expanding his sylladex with ten new cards, John looks behind his fetch modus so he can turn on “detect collisions”, but as computer scientists will know, data structures are never what you hope. Also it turns out that the stack modus and queue modus were interchangeable this whole time? We’ve gone straight back to the early acts’ roots of video game satire; turns out that special surprises you unlock were useless this whole time because there was an easier way to unlock it that the programmers hadn’t considered.
Inspired by a magic trick in Harry Anderson’s Wise Guy, John starts to figure out how to combine hole patterns in cards. Considering the Skaianet Systems documents, where many celebrities including Harry Anderson are related to the Harleybert family line, I guess we can reinterpret this magic book page as evidence that Anderson had some kind of awareness of Sburb. I can’t imagine how any other Sburb players from Earth would’ve figured out such obtuse things. If they did, they must have been exceptionally bright minds or otherwise lucky figures.
Through this magic trick, John alchemizes his first new object: the pogo hammer! Characters alchemizing stuff is an absolute joy, which starts for real in Act 3 then kicks to high gear in Act 4.
With this new weapon, it only makes sense that the bottom-tier enemies have a “we’re screwed” look. This is playing out actual video game tropes, not parodying them.
TT: What did you do?
EB: it is so sweet, man look at me go.
TT: I see.
TT: That was a really good idea, John. Nice work.
EB: i got the idea from harry anderson.
EB: uh, you know the show night court?
EB: well bottom line is…
EB: he’s awesome
EB: that’s really all there is to say on the matter.
In Homestuck’s universe, Harry Anderson is a just plain awesome guy, John speaks the truth.
I really love the pattern of characters in the comic (especially John) idolizing actors and celebrities that are just kind of random. I think these strange choices of celebrities fits beautifully in Homestuck canon. Harry Anderson, Matt McConaughey, Guy Fieri, and Charles Dutton are my personal favorite inclusions. Charles FUCKING Dutton, of all people????? I’d doubt even 1% of Homestuck readers had ever before heard of Dutton! It’s a true wonder.
One of the weaker parts of the comic as a whole relates to this discussion: the incorporation of household names everyone knows as celebrities. Nicolas Cage is one such case—everyone knows who he is, but Con Air is worked so deeply into the comic that “Homestuck without Cage” is just not a thing that could ever exist. In a somewhat similar vein, everyone knows who Snoop Dogg is but his presence is a reference to the trifecta which Problem Sleuth would be incomplete without—again excusable, but a bit odd to have in Homestuck. Bill Cosby was another odd but harmless inclusion based largely on his infamous movie Ghost Dad, but years later including him in the comic turned out to be a bad decision—I’ll revisit that point in Act 3, where the book commentary talks about that situation.
The incorporation of celebrities, both the kind I like and kind I don’t like as much, all culminated in the Skaianet Systems documents from the start of this year. I think that whole thing was awesome, with some wonderful insight into the deeper roots of Homestuck’s mythos. But after having reflected on it a bit, I can see that some parts are a little too wacky or just plain weird. Hitler, Chaplin, and Einstein are names everyone knows and I don’t think their inclusion quite fits the spirit of Homestuck.
… OK this was a really stupid tangent, I got way off track here. But these thoughts about celebrities in Homestuck have been budding in my head for over a month now and I think this was a good way to release them.
I love the “Sweet Catch” running gag. Need I say more?
h man, some huge ogres are climbing the house. I guess shit is getting real, right?
Ha ha ha. Yeah, get back to me when the first universe blows up.
This is an accurate representation of what rereading the comic with teasers of BIG SCARY things like this feels like.
EB: hey, that was a pretty, uh…
TT: Sweet catch?
EB: … save.
EB: oh, yeah.
Another short passage I love. Rose breaks the second fourth wall (or something) again, while John fails to even come near it.
EB: this is pretty comfy.
EB: why don’t you just like,
EB: carry the bed around with me on it?
EB: up to the gate up there!
TT: I can’t interact with you directly, or anything that you are touching, if it will result in moving you.
TT: The game probably regards that as a kind of cheating.
TT: In a way, thieving you of your free will as an adventurer, and the need to advance by your own skill and ingenuity.
TT: The server player is just a facilitator.
Another case where Rose quickly catches onto tropes. Meanwhile, John is just plain disappointed when the game refuses to allow exploits.
In a short flash, John falls asleep. Nothing to say about it other than that I think short, simple flashes don’t get enough love. I’ll have more to say about the flash where he wakes up.
Rose tries to send John her Sburb disc through captcha codes but nope, can’t do that.
Then Rose’s generator shuts off, leading to the first FACEPALM x2 COMBO!
Facepalm x2 combo, THIS IS STUPID… seeing silly gags like this is what got me to read Homestuck in the first place. Man, that was almost five years ago now. That’s kind of unsettling. When I first read Homestuck, “five years ago” meant when I was a dumbass 10 year old.
In a rather interesting flash, John dreams of something vague and then wakes up. First we see clouds shaped like things we’ve seen in John’s arc thus far, with a fancy logo at the center that just vaguely suggests that he might be dreaming on Skaia or something.
… Oh wait. We aren’t supposed to know yet that dreams in Homestuck have a physical location. But I think we can already tell that dreams in this comic are a bit more than meets the eye.
And then John catches a silhouette of our mysterious fourth kid, followed by a split second of the Sburb loading screen and a pumpkin. This dream has an insane amount of obtuse foreshadowing that no one could possibly understand just yet. It’s most notable as the precursor to [S] Jade: Pester John, that one flash everyone sleeps on (no pun intended) for some fucking reason.
Next comes our most skeevy Jade pesterlog yet. It introduces the recurring theme of characters in the comic withholding information for no reason.
EB: whoa, there you are!
GG: how is your adventure going john?
EB: it’s ok, i am making some progress, and rose finally connected again so she is helping me now.
GG: thats good!!
EB: oh but, like…
EB: i don’t think i am actually saving the world here. 😦
EB: i dunno what i’m really accomplishing but i guess it’s not that.
GG: hmm well i think whatever it is it must be pretty important!
GG: dont lose hope john i think it will all turn out for the best if you stay positive….
GG: just keep listening to your grandmothers advice!!!
EB: yeah, you’re probably right.
EB: but, um…
EB: i don’t think i mentioned nanna to you, did i?
GG: oh uhhh…….
GG: i dont know didnt you???
EB: hmm, i dunno, maybe you talked to rose or dave about it or something.
GG: yeah maybe that was it!!
Jade is a really bad liar. Hussie is a master at writing lies so bad that they are an absolute pain to read. He’s also a master at writing lies so good that they aren’t technically lies. Lies in Homestuck almost always fall on one of those two extremes.
EB: they’re really weird when they talk to me about you, like they’re always trying convince me you have some spooky powers, but i’m always like no she seems like a pretty regular girl to me!
GG: heheheh 😀
EB: but then when i think back maybe there are times when it seems like you know some things?
EB: like maybe you know more about a thing than you are telling me? i dunno.
John is gullible, but not gullible enough to quite believe Jade’s attempts at lies. Maybe you could see this as a prelude to characters being much more gullible? Like John willfully doing anything trolls tell him, or characters doing anything Doc Scratch tells them.
GG: oh boy…. well……..
GG: it turns out i was confused about it…
GG: really confused! o_o;
GG: see i guess i fell asleep for a while and…..
GG: lost track of time
GG: that happens!!
EB: yeah i know, tell me about it!
EB: maybe you should like, wear an alarm clock or something.
EB: so what was the deal with the meteor?
GG: its hard to explain!!!
GG: i know what it is now!
GG: and now i know everythings going to be ok!!!
On the surface, Jade appears to be clumsily backtracking from the meteor she talked about because she thinks John isn’t supposed to know that. And it’s easy to think that when rereading too. But if you dig in just a bit deeper, you’ll find that Jade is telling the truth. She really was confused about the meteor explosion outside her house and only after waking up knew what it was, which definitely is hard to explain. Even the “lost track of time” part is likely true, because dreaming Jade is more than a little airheaded (but much more tolerable than awake Jade talking to John).
GG: oh gosh john i really want to tell you all this stuff!!!
GG: but i cant yet
GG: i really think you need to wake up first!
GG: well ok not literally
GG: well ok maybe KINDA literally!!
EB: stop being so confusing!!!!
Another thing Jade says that’s actually true. Not that readers will have any clue what that means.
About this conversation as a whole: I still don’t get why Jade couldn’t have just told John that she knows some things about the future. I can’t see him understanding how Jade knows those things any more than Dave and Rose do. This pattern with Jade and John does work narratively in a way: Jade is the first character out of many more that turns out to be a pawn of Sburb’s forces, which works as a prelude to weirder, crazier stuff.
Actually, does it really work as a prelude? Or am I just carried away by trains of thought as I dissect this comic through and through? God, this entire project is so stupid, and that’s exactly why I’m working so hard on it.
1/25/2021 EDIT: Yep, still true.
The ogres sneaking up can also be seen as a prelude to bigger, scarier things as I said earlier. Maybe I’ve gotten so caught up in this idea of preludes because I skipped to the intermission.
Oh whatever. This post is almost over. Only a few pages left. I can do this.
“[S] Dave: Ascend to the highest point of the building”, or “Dave: Ascend” for short, is an awesome flash. You can tell it’s awesome because this sequence was replicated twice, first with the trolls and then with the alpha kids. Another way you can tell it’s awesome is because these replications tie INSANELY well with symbolism and Lord English’s components.
First we get a final showing of Dave’s sylladex and ninja skills, which is the most awesome this guy has been yet.
In deep red light amidst a burning city, Dave is now ready to face his bro and kick some major ass. He doesn’t actually end up kicking ass, but this scene hypes us up for him doing so. Dave stands proud on his roof and—
Oh fuck, looks like it’s time to meet Jade instead.
This first look at her home has quite a few standouts. The flowerpots may look familiar if you think back to the rocket with junk inside that John alchemized. The flowers are wild and whimsical, complete with spirograph designs that tie in with Jade’s supposed knowledge of the future and bits of the kids’ adventure. And the pumpkin is… ok come on. Do I really have to explain to you how pumpkins are significant in Hussie’s comics??? We have to hurry up and get to know—
—the Wayward Vagabond.
On the surface, the x2 DOUBLE PSYCHEOUT COMBO!! is just a silly prank. But I think glimpsing at Jade before switching to WV is an excellent touch. If we didn’t get a teaser of Jade, the most plot-driven of the beta kids, it wouldn’t have been as enticing to follow WV’s arc with all this obtuse foreshadowing.
See you next time as we get to know the Wayward Vagabond and then conclude Act 2. After that point, I’ll pause my rewritten posts in favor of proper new posts for a few weeks, release my 4/13 project, and then maybe start Act 3.