Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 8 Rewritten: Mayorly Foreshadowification Station

Introduction / Schedule

Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 >

Pages 666-758 (MSPA: 2566-2658)

Act 2, Part 5 of 5

Link to old version / Link to new version

My rewritten posts lately have alternated between me making a new post title and me keeping the old one. I’m keeping the old one here again.

Random thing about the community reread that isn’t worth putting in its entire separate post: I decided to join in again yesterday to reread John and Roxy’s first conversation, at the end of Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 1. It’s just as funny and heartening as I remember it being and is one of many things recently that made remember that they are the best ship in the comic. Look forward to me praising that ship in future posts, probably.

You are now the Wayward Vagabond.

The final portion of Act 2 is a stretch of pages focusing on the Wayward Vagabond. On this page, the book commentary explains that although Hussie already had rough ideas for this character’s story role, he decided to improvise and have fun with this arc, letting readers drive the story a bit more than before. You probably know that when John was commanded by WV, he was blocked off from being commanded by readers; playing as WV for the first time gives us a fresh start and a bit of a return to the old days. This “fresh start” idea is done even stronger in the Midnight Crew intermission, which I already covered in my rewritten posts because I skipped to that part after finishing Act 1. Once I finish Act 3, I’ll do a post recapping the intermission before I go to Act 4.


> WV: Retri…


Got em already.

No arm shenanigans here; just quickly getting this joke out of the way before any nonsense can happen. Probably meant to get readers at the time to think, “hm maybe I should be creative for once instead of reiterating the same old commands again”.


> WV: Examine rotten pumpkin.


What pumpkin?

As with the “what sword?” scene from Dave, this is a short moment that establishes the nature of Homestuck compared to the other adventures. The old MSPA gags now always have an explanation behind them. In this case, the explanation is simply that WV ate the pumpkin, as we can plainly see. A short moment of humor that reminds us that this isn’t quite Problem Sleuth.

If there’s any part of Homestuck that is quite Problem Sleuth, it’s obviously the intermission. That part brings back item/weapon duality and other weird nonsensical gimmicks. Those intermission gimmicks serve as a good way to surprise readers when we learn that the intermission was plot-relevant all along.


> WV: Captchalogue can of gravy.


Captchalogue? You have no idea what that means. It is total nonsense and you do not know what to make of it. You will not give the foolish notion a second thought.

I like how WV’s nature compared to our human heroes is shown by repeatedly subverting expectations. He doesn’t have a fetch modus, but instead just picks things up with his hands. This is an early hint at his role as an NPC, who does things that don’t necessarily match with game mechanics.

Did you ever play My Lego Network as a kid? You probably didn’t. But I had a whole phase with that game/social network when I was 9 or 10. It was kind of garbage in retrospect; there’s one aspect of it that relates to what I’m talking about here. Users in that network could only send each other preset messages, which I found annoying and empty. However, NPCs, or “Networkers” as the game called them, could send users whatever messages they wanted (which is to say, whatever they were programmed to send). I found the “freedom” NPCs had to be even more bullshit and garbage. Later of course, I got used to the concept of NPCs in games doing things that would otherwise not be allowed. But I still remember how upset I felt back then that NPCs seemed to have so much more freedom than actual users did.

In Homestuck, there are plenty of times where you can “play” as NPCs. Whenever you play as them, the story changes tone a little. In this case, the typical “freedom” NPCs have compared to playable characters—lack of bounds by player characters’ restrictions—is shown when WV picks things up instead of using a fetch modus. It brings back the “what, why can THOSE characters do what they want” feel that young children might experience. 

What, then, do we make of Spades Slick’s Problem Sleuth-style inventory? My guess is that it’s a red herring to distract us from the fact that he was originally a Sburb NPC. I’ll revisit this point, as well as any possible in-universe explanation for that inventory, in my intermission recap post.


WV is commanded to use his sharp teeth to open the can, but he actually has blunt teeth. A simple subversion of commands serves as subtle foreshadowing of his lowly rank among Dersites, compared to higher-ranking ones with sharper teeth (this is all according to the book commentary). Whether this teeth symbolism was made up in the book commentary, improvised right here, or planned all along, I cannot tell. It’s not an important detail.


> WV: Examine can of custard.


The can clearly reads “MUSTARD”, a fact of which you were perfectly well aware. 

I would say this is another improvised subversion of what readers were thinking, but given that the other cans are all salty foods it makes more sense for the can to be mustard, not custard. If a reader thought it was mustard but then Hussie decided it was custard instead, then it would be an improvised subversion.


WV’s bar code vaguely resembles a chess board and supposedly “brings back unpleasant memories”. Extremely loose foreshadowing of course.

^ placeholder text. I’m OK with this being placeholder text actually, because this barcode means much more when we see Slick wearing it.


> WV: Be the imp.


This means nothing to you. You are not an imp, you have no idea what an imp is, and you will not entertain such frivolous and childish ideas ever again. You feel stupid and hate yourself a little for even considering it.

I always love when the comic humorously debunks dumb theories, in this case that WV is an imp. It’s even a little mean to readers about that idea; WV hates himself a little for considering the thought of an “imp”.


WV’s next command is to become the Mayor of Can Town and here’s where things get interesting. You might know that this one-off command had a major impact on the story, giving birth to exiles’ affiliations and beliefs that they have strict roles. WV the mayor, PM the mail lady, AR the judge.

These exile roles give their arc so much more character than it otherwise would have had. It’s kind of weird and wonderful. They won’t stop at anything to latch onto these roles. WV will never leave a brutal king in charge. PM will never leave a package undelivered. AR will never leave a crime unpaid for. And Hussie will never bring back AR… wait, where was I going with this?

OK, authority regulators are mentioned once postmortem. It would be kind of awesome if it was more than once. Moving on.

WV has a habit of basing fantasies exclusively around his surroundings.
This king symbol looks like a chess king. Had any readers put the pieces together at this point?


You love the idea of being a mayor. You love everything about mayors, and the concept of an orderly, civil democracy. It all seems so mannerly and reasonable to you. Everyone is friendly and happy, and the city runs like clockwork. The foundation of the government is based on mutual respect between the leader and its people. It is also built on having a really great mayor that everyone loves who is totally amazing and heroic and brave.

Mayors are so much better than kings. You hate kings and you think kings are really stupid. They are petty, bossy tyrants and are really full of themselves and are basically awful in every way. 

God do you hate kings.

I can tell that Hussie really liked the idea of WV being a mayor. It didn’t take long for him to realize that WV being “The Mayor” fits perfectly with his backstory of rebelling against a king.


Next to the wall in WV’s station, we find four items that match up with the beta kids. Oil is a more than familiar sight now in John’s house, while the firefly trapped in amber you may remember if you think closely to Dave’s collection of dead things. We have no way yet of knowing that chalk = Rose and uranium = Jade. But four random items situated together will probably set an alarm for most readers.

The book commentary tells us that the four items were all meant to tie into the kids’ planets and their quests, but only in John’s case did it pan out. So we’re left with those four items symbolizing much weirder things instead.


WV immediately eats the uranium, independent of readers’ commands. Wait I mean the Chekhov’s uranium. This moment hints to us that Jade is the kids’ pattern breaker; I’ll revisit this point shortly.


If it’s green, WV eats it. When I first read this page, I thought it meant WV hated that color. My first read of Homestuck was embarrassing.


WV uses the amber, chalk, and oil to build and expand Can Town; this might be a symbol of the beta kids’ cooperation and firm bonds. I guess that’s the symbolism we’re left with now that the planet quests have been shafted. It’s pretty good symbolism though, don’t get me wrong. It makes sense that only the first three kids’ items are shown, because we still haven’t been introduced to Jade yet.

Unlike the other three, Jade’s item (the uranium) is used for something not quite as innocent. Or rather, by someone not quite as innocent. Just as Jade was behind the beta kids becoming friends and starting their adventure, the uranium was behind Jack Noir’s bloody hand and following rampage which cut the trolls’ victory short and caused pretty much everything else in the story to happen.

Let’s flip back a few pages (before the last one shown above) to the moment WV draws the chessboard. First, let’s look at the narration:

> WV: Lay a chalk foundation for Can Town’s civic growth.

You develop westward, settling those fertile plains and claiming them for your city. 


You section off a number of RESIDENTIAL AND COMMERCIAL ZONES for civic growth, arranged in the only logical pattern that occurs to you. 

WV’s choice of drawing a chessboard is an interesting case of the narration going along with reader commands but adding something unexpected along the way. He does indeed build a neighborhood area for Can Town, but he arranges it in a way that makes readers go “oh shit”. I say just “readers” and not “attentive readers” because the visuals accompanying Nannasprite’s story are one of the most memorable parts of Act 2.


> WV: Use your own pee for the commercial zones.


You cannot urinate because you have not had anything to drink in quite some time. You are very thirsty. 

Most of the time in Homestuck, food is glossed over and ignored. This is an odd case where WV is established to be extremely thirsty due to a gag command. It serves to set up a bit of an arc where he has to find something to drink. 

Also that is a really terrible idea and you would not consider befouling your wonderful city in that way for even a moment.

And this line, where WV says he wouldn’t use his own pee no matter what, reminds us that we’re reading Homestuck, not Problem Sleuth, and especially not Jailbreak.


After the chess board is fully painted, WV gives himself a mayor sash. He wears it for the rest of the comic and it’s, um, probably significant to a lot of things?

Why didn’t I think of placeholder text sooner? It’s a great addition to my posts. It’s way more fun than struggling to say something about a scene, or just adding “it says a lot that”, or god forbid, “I think it says a lot that” to the start.


Next, WV decides to draw a backdrop to his imaginary city. Which is to say he treats us to a nice, informative tour of the kids’ Incipisphere. With the light and dark (luminous and ominous as he calls them) planets, the quartet of planets vaguely connected to the kids’ items, and Skaia’s trademark cloud design, first-time readers might be able to make out some connection to Nanna’s stories and the kids’ game of Sburb.


WV looks at John’s command station and wonders how to turn on the other screens. A command suggests that he press Tab, a natural choice.

Is this page supposed to symbolize Prospit’s untimely destruction?

Let’s go with the intellectual’s answer, “yes”.

But what the Tab key actually does is more wordplay. It opens a box containing some delicious Tab soda!


He is elated to drink this delicious soda. I said earlier that food and drinks are usually glossed over in Homestuck, which makes the cases where characters have trademark favorite foods stand the hell out. 



The TABS are naturalized as loyal new citizens of CAN TOWN. All cans are welcome and equal in your city, regardless of can content, and whether empty or full. 

With a second type of cans added to the mix, things really start to pile up. WV is shown to believe in equality and friendship between two seemingly opposing groups. We saw a chess battle against white and black pieces during Nanna’s exposition, so one might surmise that WV believes Prospit’s and Derse’s soldiers can all be friends if they stick together. And one would be completely right!

Cropping enormous panels is another thing I wish I had thought of doing long ago.


WV goes on to view his station’s command history. Seeing a recap of his commands is useful because it makes the quirky way he writes much clearer. His style shows a bit of dissonance with itself, with esoteric vocabulary arranged into strange, childish sentence structure. After the caps lock incident, he keeps his vocabulary but switches out childish sentences with extreme politeness.

Note that the commands WV sent John during the walkaround are omitted, maybe to prevent them from having any “canonical” order.


And then we see that someone else long ago had entered a few test commands before WV showed up. Hussie’s book commentary gives a suggestion as to who that someone is:

I think of those early commands in green as some things that were entered as test cases while this station was being built. I like to picture a mild mannered carapacian in a lab coat just running through the drill, making sure the terminal checks out. Then he gives it a thumbs up, and the thing just sits in a meteor for a while, crashes into earth, and waits centuries for this bozo to show up and fuck around with the keyboard.

It raises an interesting point that we don’t see carapacians performing their usual jobs as the story intends; just the occasional brief look at things going the normal way rather than completely off the rails. I don’t really agree with the common criticism that we never quite get to see a normal Sburb session; I think those brief looks I talked about, especially during the troll session, are just enough to give us an idea of how things normally are meant to go while keeping the story engaging. It’s just that a lot of those looks at how things normally go are peeked at in the background.

I actually haven’t reread the trolls’ arc in a while. Maybe I should reread that section before I get to it in my rewritten posts, I don’t know.

WV decides to look at the other three screens, foreshadowing more stuff to us in the process. He looks at Rose’s screen and we glimpse the giant wizard statue, damaged and missing a hand. This doesn’t directly foreshadow much, but it ties into one of the things this act’s ending flash reveals; I’ll go over it when I get to that flash.


Dave’s screen teases an enormous amount to us. I’ll go through those one by one.

1. Bird prototyped into sprite

We saw that John’s kernelsprite brought back his late grandmother, and we learned in a flashback conversation that Rose will bring back her cat in her kernel. So a logical extension is that Dave will bring back something dead too, namely a bird he accidentally killed. While it is true that the bird is prototyped, we are misled into thinking his sprite will just be a brainless feathery asshole with some goofy flair, not a bird version of himself.

2. Cal destroyed

The puppet is ripped to shreds. Well, not entirely: its head is intact which might hint that the puppet has more to it than just being unsettling. I’d guess Hussie had conceptualized Caliborn at this point and maybe came up with Lord English’s other components in later acts. It’s also a clear idea that Cal would be prototyped into Dave’s sprite, which really does happen … in a bad future where John and Jade are dead. And Cal’s evil nightmare laughing overwhelms any bird personality that sprite might have, which again subverts expectations.

3. Dave’s broken shirt symbol

An extremely early hint at the Scratch. It’s not out of the question that Hussie had already planned out the alpha kids by this point; maybe the cherubs being friends with them, or that might have been a tiny bit later. This isn’t the only time we get a super early hint at the Scratch. You can tell that Hussie planned a lot, but not everything in advance.

4. Dave’s broken sword

Spoiler alert: Dave breaks swords a lot. Spoiler alert 2: Dave’s sword quest is a bunch of shitty nonsense that is really used to show Dave’s inferiority complex, especially with Davesprite. I can tell that Hussie had already planned Dave’s sword breaking to symbolize his character.

[end of list]

As for Jade’s screen:

You consider switching to SCREEN 4, but decide against it. You have a feeling that whatever’s there would just confuse you even more, and you don’t even really care all that much anyway.

WV decides not to switch to screen 4, because it would just confuse him even more. This suggests that Jade’s entry into the Medium is probably something CRAZY exciting. Why else would the story go out of its way not to show it?

I’m thinking of a page number between my buttocks…


After the screen nonsense is over, WV sees a time count down 4 hours and 13 minutes, then diminishes that number to 4 minutes and 13 seconds by making a game of chess out of his citizens and playing it to completion.


To nobody’s surprise, the white team loses. This again ties in with one of the most memorable parts of Nannasprite’s exposition, where we learned that white is always destined to lose the battle. Hopefully most readers here really got thinking at this point. A chess board with white destined to lose? Two kingdoms of light and of darkness around that world? It’s not impossible to connect the dots about WV’s drawings.


Minutes in the future (though perhaps not as few as implied by circumstance), we get a small teaser of a second exile, the Peregrine Mendicant. Quickly we see that WV’s silly commands about being a mayor paid off, because the first thing we see this exile doing is carry a bunch of mailboxes which suggests that she has some strong profession fantasy too. We have no way yet of knowing that exile is a “she” though, which confused many fans. Well, we have no way yet of knowing WV’s gender either, but Hussie had probably already referred to him by male pronouns on the forums.


WV leaves his room and looks at a touchscreen interface listing his station’s three rooms, each of which is represented with one of the comic’s three main arc symbols: the Sburb logo, the spirograph, and the triangle fractal. Or you could call them the Sburb logo, the other Sburb logo, and the secret third Sburb logo.

Someone help me, I don’t remember what’s in the spirograph room. Aren’t we shown inside that room in Act 5 Act 2?


WV can’t enter the spirograph room, but he can enter the triangle fractal room and here’s where we see more cool things.


You immediately craft a MEASURING SPEAR through possibly the most advanced form of alchemy employed thusfar. This is obviously the most important thing to do first. 

OBVIOUSLY.

I didn’t show the panel earlier where we first saw his Trusty Knife.


Or it WOULD obviously be the most important thing to do if you had remembered to bring your TRUSTY KNIFE. 

I like this method of storytelling, which shows us WV attaching his knife to his ruler but then zooms out to show a thought bubble and that WV doesn’t actually have his knife. This isn’t the only time a scene turns out to be someone’s thoughts or vision. In later acts the story is all about using thoughts, clouds, mind visions, dream bubbles, what have you, to transition scenes. Using mind visions isn’t quite as common, but it does happen twice in short succession in the Doc Scratch intermission, where [that one character]’s battle against Jack Noir turned out to be Terezi’s mind vision and Slick’s brutal murder by Quarters turned out to be Snowman’s mind vision.

You feel so insecure without your TRUSTY KNIFE, it makes you want to slit your wrists. Or at the very least, flog your carapace with some sort of measuring apparatus.

Mystery arc anyone? Obviously there’s something important about that knife, other than being an arm swingy flappy thing wrapped in a bit of cloth. It makes sense that something important is hidden in that knife because WV is an absolute pacifist and not one for weapons.

WV messes around with the appearifier and take a wild guess what’s going to show up. Anyone?


It’s a pumpkin of course! Why would it ever be anything else?

Well, it’s not just any old pumpkin.

Jade’s teaser between the last psycheout and x2 double psycheout combo was important, and this is why. This pumpkin with the dog design was shown next to Jade and will probably flash a light to readers. If you think back to the coordinates recently shown, you can spoil yourself on where Jade lives: a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, about halfway between Hawaii and Australia.



It seems this mysterious gourd was transported (appearified!!!) from a specific time and location somewhere on this planet you are on. You wonder if the machine (APPEARIFIER!!!) will take any object that exists at whatever time and location you supply. 

This is one of those odd bits where the comic hammers in its special terminology through correcting a character’s narration, instead of just rolling with it. Makes sense again because WV is an NPC who is less bound by the game’s rules, but at the same time more bound by the game’s rules. WV doesn’t captchalogue anything and isn’t familiar with appearification and whatnot, but does strictly follow all that he is programmed to do, like wanting to a mayor and eating all that is green.

There is a symbol carved on the PUMPKIN. You don’t know what it means, and you doubt it will ever prove to be relevant in any way.

WV has a strong memory and knowledge of the mechanics of the incipisphere, but somehow can’t recognize the dog symbol (yet). I pondered for a bit why he didn’t remember dog Jack and then concluded that it’s because first guardians getting prototyped doesn’t normally happen. It isn’t part of Sburb’s rules, so it makes sense that WV wouldn’t be programmed to remember that catastrophe. Jack with the dog’s powers is way scarier than even the trolls’ black king, who had the powers of many monstrous creatures and a deadly Horrorterror.


WV presses a green button and the coordinates switch, now showing the coordinates for his facility. His face obscures all but the latitude, enticing the mystery of where he is located. It doesn’t even come across as deliberately hiding information from readers—not yet anyway. This is enough to get readers curious but not to infuriate them with information they’re denied.

More obscuring like I said above. This time, only the rightmost digits are shown.


One way to find out would be to attempt to appearify something from this facility. 

It should be easy to zero in on a location relative to the center because you have an uncanny knack for tracking precise distances you have already traversed, in whatever units you choose. 

This little passage is interesting. It gives us a small hint at something WV is programmed to do. Maybe he has the number 413,000 firmly planted in his head? Or 413 multiplied by some power of 10, it’s kind of vague how much time he spent wandering a desolate Earth. That strong memory of distances could explain how he found the command station amidst an empty desert at just the right moment.



You nudge the coordinates very slightly and bump up the elevation by 0.5 HUMAN MEASUREMENT UNITS. You make sure to keep the time approximately what it was to begin with. 

You appearify your TRUSTY KNIFE.

WV is quite the mathematician! It makes sense because he is an NPC in a video game, and video game programming involves enormous amounts of math and logic. And banging your head against the wall trying to figure out why every function is outputting zero.

Although he is clearly a sentient being, I’ve been using the word “programmed” to describe WV because it works again and again as a metaphor.


> WV: Deappearify the pumpkin.


Does this machine look like a DEAPPEARIFIER to you?? Honestly, the idea that an APPEARIFIER could both APPEARIFY and DEAPPEARIFY things is so laughably ridiculous, you would wish someone would DEAPPEARIFY your brain and REAPPEARIFY it with a brain that is more smart and less dumb.

More evidence that WV is a programmed video game character who operates through program rules rather than human rules. If you program an appearifier in a video game, you can’t just expect it to be able to deappearify (sendificate!!!) things too. Such functionality has to be tacked onto the program. WV knows this because he is (metaphorically) a program. I bet he’d do a good job teaching John how to program computers. (Take notes Hussie, the epilogue isn’t some joke.)


WV appearifies the firefly out of the amber. Good to know, I completely forgot about how she got out of there. It’s quite kindly of him to free her from this entrapment.

Serenity is one of the least “homestuck” characters in a way. As in not stuck in a home. She travels around many places, then Roxy renames *him* to Twinkly Herbert and *he* becomes a soul container for Calliope or something. Also her/his story is never quite fully elaborated; it’s filled with puzzling but harmless oddities.

Not shown: WV appearifying the grate that prevented him from leaving.


WV can’t appearify the rotten pumpkin in the past because he would later eat it. This is a neat little introduction to time paradoxes and how the comic handles them. It eases readers into how the kids were born and what can and can’t be cloned. Predestination is subtly hinted at throughout this act and gradually becomes more prominent until it becomes one of the biggest themes of Act 5 Act 2.

Quick peek at WV’s coordinates and time, if you aren’t distracted by this flash’s climactic tension!


With all that out of the way, it’s time for WV’s grand climax! With his timer rapidly ticking down, he must grab all his important stuff in a pumpkin and hurry to the exit! Things are getting serious now!!!!

Just kidding, you and I know this flash is just a silly parody of Act 1’s ending flash, with WV wasting time on dumb nonsense while a mysterious countdown ticks. It even has the exact same music as that flash. Serious flashes always use new music or a new arrangement of old music. If a flash straight up reuses old music, you know it’s a joke flash and a real flash will probably come soon.


Just as WV approaches the exit, the music suddenly slows down and he falls off the ladder, with all his stuff dumped on him. This fully establishes this flash as a psycheout where we switch focus to someone else… or is it?

Hold on, hold on, hold on, can we switch the music?
We’re gonna hit it.


You attempt the rare and highly dangerous 5X CLIFFHANGER COMBO, and fail. 

We are doing it, man. 

We are making this happen.

Cliffhangers are cool and all, but you have to draw the line somewhere. And Hussie drew the line at just the right place. Five cliffhangers is too much to handle; you can’t just go ahead and switch perspective at a moment this tense. No, you must do it after the dramatic flash.

Are you ready for the comic’s very first WHOPPER FLASH? [S] WV: Ascend is Act 2’s ending flash and it holds a special place in many readers’ hearts. It’s cited again and again as the first page that blew readers away; the first page that made them realize Homestuck is no ordinary webcomic. And boy is it easy to see why that is.

When I first watched WV: Ascend, I didn’t quite know what was going on but was stunned no less; I could tell the flash was meant to establish enormous plot revelations and concluded that the flash established that WV and company were behind the game of Sburb and the kids’ story this whole time, and that they caused the meteor impacts on Earth. That conclusion isn’t true at all, but at the same time it’s in a way true. My original conclusion goes to show how impactful this flash is; even if you don’t understand it, you can tell that crazy plot stuff is kicking into high gear.

This flash opens with revisiting the very beginning of Act 2, showing WV’s location once more and what we now know about this mystery man. The moment this flash opens and you hear the first few seconds of Explore, you can tell you’re in for something special.


The zoom out from WV’s endless desert is amazingly executed. First Zazzerpan’s hand subtly shows that he lives where Rose’s home once stood. Then it turns out that the desert isn’t quite the endless expanse we thought it was; it’s a load of sand that filled up an entire crater. The desert scenes were only a small portion of the big picture!


AND THEN THE MUSIC DROPS. Tell me that your jaw didn’t drop when you first got to this moment. George Buzinkai did an amazing job composing Explore, while Michael Guy Bowman did a just as awesome job arranging it into a full-length song. It’s super special whenever a flash’s music is some form of collaboration between musicians, or one musician’s arrangement of another musician’s song.

I can’t go on without mentioning something sad: for those that don’t know, Buzinkai suffered through hard times in life since 2013 and passed away in 2018. I have been witness to very few things as heartwarming as the support Buzinkai got over those years. I recommend listening to some of Buzinkai’s music outside of Homestuck. There’s quite a bit floating around the Internet.


WV flying through the air is so goddamn awesome to see. No complaints, no jabs at Hussie. Just reminiscing over a spectacular animation. It’s nice.


One cool thing this flash does is show us the true purpose of the “but not many” arc words; these words are used to establish what time scales we’re talking about in a uniquely Homestuck way. I’ll get back to this point in a bit.


The explosion at the end of Act 1 is revisited in a brand new light. The montage following the explosion is stunning and really feels like it’s recapping a lengthy time period. The timelapse just keeps going and going: first we see the immediate result of the explosion, then the montage starts to speed up with color change from grassy green to desert yellow, then massive sands pile up just like Rose’s home, and finally a tree grows, with an apple featuring the Sburb logo underneath.


This montage is AWESOME. And that’s all there is to say on the matter. A nice touch is that near the end, the tree’s leaves cycle through seasons, establishing that the montage is slowing down once more as it reaches the “present”.

Not shown: the reveal that the “meteor” approaching PM was actually WV’s command station.


The meaning behind the poetic little phrase “but not many” is shown in full here. When those words are crossed out, it’s established in a way even more “Homestuck” than before that we’re about to see events that happened millions of years in the past, which is most certainly many years.


This scene, specifically the spirograph that the meteor is teleported from, is an important “oh shit” moment that kills two birds with one stone. This time, only the “stone” part is literal, because birds didn’t exist 413 million years ago. The “birds” in this case are two important plot revelations.

The first revelation is that meteors were created by Sburb, destroying what readers were led to believe about them before (that the countdown was just to warn them about meteors). It goes hand in hand with the prior revelation that Sburb is not about saving the world.

The second revelation is that Sburb is significant on a cosmic level, not just as some game that destroys the world. It slowly leads readers into the revelation that the goal of Sburb is to create a universe. This big shock revelation that Sburb sent a meteor millions of years into the past makes it easier for readers to realize other crazy things about the game as the story progresses.


The montage that follows this ancient meteor collision is just as awesome as the last one. It starts with the volcano erupting and forming a pit, where the frog temple is then created. After that point, the montage speeds up until we see roughly how the island looks like now. In that last frame shown above, dinosaurs are shown which establishes in a not very Homestuck way that this isn’t quite what the island currently looks like. The dinosaurs are not there to match with Homestuck’s style of narration, but to give a shout-out to Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics. The shoutout goes well with this flash though and I think it’s a good quick way to show that this is still the past.


With these montages done, this flash goes on an interlude to resolve the other characters’ cliffhangers. The scenes with Rose struggling in a flaming forest look stunning and this is still all with the early comic’s simple art style.


Rose’s mother appears, followed by a glimpse at the Skaianet lab next door. The moment you see the spirograph logo on the lab is a major “oh shit” moment. When I got to that scene when writing this post, I had a major revelation moment as if I was reading for the first time. The revelation was that this flash is the first full confirmation of the guardians’ involvement with Sburb, which was hinted at a few times in this act.


Rose’s mom enters the password to Skaianet’s lab. The cat logo is super cute and gives us a brief peek at Roxy’s true character behind (or rather, in front of) being a passive-aggressive freak.


The first time we see John’s father after being kidnapped is an important moment because it shows the same dark kingdom shown in Nanna’s stories and WV’s drawings. It might take a bit of a sharp eye to put those pieces together, but it’s still an important teaser of something we’ll learn way more about in Act 3.


Dad breaks free from his handcuffs and immediately scares the imps. Another small moment that teases a hidden truth about John’s father: he is extremely strong and thought his son would grow up to be the same.


Like Rose, Dave gets a big awesome appearance done in simple art but with shading that really brings it to life. Helps that the music gets to that really powerful final part that I don’t know how to put in words.


Bro appears in full view and now the big battle is finally ready to begin. Another stunning scene.


When WV’s frog temple arrives where Jade’s island once stood, we see that area has gone back to where it started: an uninhabited world of dust and rocks. The only differences are that the volcano is missing and an eroded frog temple is there. We don’t quite know yet why the volcano is missing, but if you pay enough attention and look at the coordinates, you just might put a few pieces together. Not nearly enough to know why the frog temple is still there though. We do know she owns a guardian dog of sorts named Bec, so maybe the sharpest of readers might be able to put it all together.


With WV arriving at his destination, this flash ends. I like how he was surrounded in mystery when he started his long flight, but when he ends his flight we now know much more about those exiles and how their story came to be.

END OF ACT 2


And so, the curtains close in on the frog temple’s location years in the future (but not many). Hussie is a master at ending acts with things that blow your mind. Almost every act ends with curtains closing in on something shocking, symbolistic, or in a few cases humorous. Acts 1-3 and the intermission all close in on something shocking; later acts go more for the symbolistic side, while some of Act 6’s subdivisions go for the humorous. My personal favorite closing image might be the end of Act 6 Act 5, which manages to be all three at once.

– – – 


Time to recap Act 2.

First, I’d like to say I have one glaring problem with this act: it’s rather slow-paced. I felt that way especially when I read Act 2 in the community reread. A lot of pages are spent on nonsense that doesn’t mean much for the plot or establish much about characters. Most of those pages I skipped over when writing my Act 2 post, so you probably couldn’t tell that I felt Act 2 was slow-paced aside from the times I outright said so.

Amidst its slow pace, Act 2 does have a lot of plot points and mysteries hyped up throughout, way more than Act 1. The exiles, the guardians’ connections to Sburb, Jade’s knowledge of the future, Jade in general, Sburb’s underlings, the light and dark kingdoms, the seven gates and Skaia, the deeper story behind all the Saw puppets, and most importantly of all, Rose’s magnetic letter W. These mysteries are enticing and the act does a decent job hyping them up so we can get shocking reveals in the next few acts.

As for characters, Act 2 places heavy emphasis on Rose and Dave. A large portion of the act is just them exploring their homes and characterizing their daily lives, with plenty of humorous moments and surprises along the way. This focus on Rose and Dave makes sense compared to Act 1, but feels a bit imbalanced and may contribute to this act’s feeling of slow pace. John mostly just goes around fighting imps and figuring out game mechanics, while Jade does nothing but plot dumps and vague teasers. The most interesting character we get to know in this act is the Wayward Vagabond, who we meet in this act’s final stretch of pages. Reading through the story from an NPC’s perspective for the first time is a fun change of pace and twists up a lot of the comic’s usual narration rules if you read closely enough.

Act 2 doesn’t have many big animations, mostly small silly ones. The minigames and walkarounds aren’t that good and serve mostly as predecessors for some really good walkarounds in later acts. The animations with Nannasprite’s story are excellent and set a fresh atmosphere; Dave: Ascend feels like the flash where shit just got real but is really just the last step before the act’s iconic ending flash. Act 2 ends with first a silly fakeout flash, then a mind-blowing whopper flash. As I said before, this is just one of many cases where Hussie ends an act with a massive surprise that blows readers away and gets them hyped to read the next act.

To conclude this post, I will say that Act 2 is flawed overall but ends with something spectacular that is only the start of many more spectacular things to come.

See you next time as I go back to the present and dissect probably some stuff involving Caliborn, for real this time. I’ll start Act 3 at some point after 4/13; read my schedule post for more information!

Next => Part 9: Air for Eclectic Fursuits

(Important fact: I fucking hate Homestuck.)

Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 7 Rewritten: What Sword?

Introduction / Schedule

Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 >

Pages 562-665 (MSPA: 2462-2565)

Act 2, Part 4 of 5

Link to old version / Link to new 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.


What 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… 

WHEELED… 

uh… 

RIDE (7). 

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 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: i combined the cards in the lathe thingy and made this! 
EB: it is so sweet, man look at me go. 
TT: I see. 
TT: That was a really good idea, John. Nice work. 
EB: thanks! 
EB: i got the idea from harry anderson. 
TT: Who? 
EB: uh, you know the show night court? 
TT: No. 
EB: oh. 
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.

SWEET CATCH!


I love the “Sweet Catch” running gag. Need I say more?


Book commentary:

Oh 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… 
EB: nice… 
EB: uh… 
TT: Sweet catch? 
EB: … save. 
EB: oh, yeah. 
EB: that. 


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: See? 
EB: oh. 
EB: lame! 
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.

GG: hey!!!! 
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: well….. 
GG: its hard to explain!!! 
GG: but… 
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! 
EB: huh? 
GG: well ok not literally 
GG: well ok maybe KINDA literally!! 
EB: AUGH!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
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.


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.

Next => Part 8: Mayorly Foreshadowification Station

Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 5 Rewritten: The Crutch of Cinematic Troglodytes

Introduction

Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 >

Act 2, Part 2 of 5

Pages 358-428 (MSPA: 2258-2328)

Link to old version / Link to new version

I was originally going to call this post “Grandmotherly Expositation Station (ft. wizards)”.

Then I was going to call this post “The Motherly Miniboss (who hates wizards)”.

But now I’ve settled on an actually good title. I need to name more posts after Dave lines.


Let’s be real here, the content covered in this post has far more focus on Rose than grandmotherly expositation. And all title pictures prior to this were from scenes focused on John so I wanted to change things up.

Another note: I’ll be referencing the old version of this post quite a bit in this one, because I’ve realized many new things related to what I talked about in that post.

Irony, summarized in one picture.


What’s the first thing we see when Rose enters her living room? An enormous wizard statue. I touched upon the kids’ pattern of guardian interests in my rewrite of post 3 and I’ll go over this pattern more as we go along.

Just look at that mystical gaze. To peer into those aloof, glassen eyes is to arrest the curiosity of any mortal. To behold the wisdom concealed in the furrows of that venerable face is to know the ceaseless joys of bewonderment itself. Any man so fortunate as to catch askance his merry twinkle or twitch of whisker shall surely have all his dreams fulfilled.

You find this grisly abomination utterly detestable.

If you read this narration closely enough, it comes across as an inversion of the narration’s ridiculously dark and gloomy descriptions of the Horrorterrors (1, 2, 3). And if you read it that way, at a glance it seems like Rose just loves dark things and hates bright and sunny things. This interpretation isn’t even close to true: as I established at the start of my rewrite of post 4, what Rose has an affinity for is the complex and unknowable, which includes the Horrorterrors just as much as it includes wizards. I like how this passage still makes sense knowing that Rose likes wizards but dislikes the way her mother uses wizards to spite her, which as you know is all in her head; it’s something of a red herring for the story to imply she hates wizards.

Also on this topic, in the old version of this post I was confused about why Rose understood her friends’ inner motives and feelings but not her mother’s love of wizards. I even speculated that her mother formed a void (haha epic classpect speculation) in Rose’s knowledge. I think I know why now: Rose can easily pick apart anything complicated but won’t accept anything simple and straightforward.



> Rose: Psychoanalyze mother’s love of wizards.

There is nothing to psychoanalyze. Your mother clearly has no real affinity for these damnable things. She only collects them to spite you. 


If anything, she finds them even more repellent than you do. She’s just a committed woman.

The line “there is nothing to psychoanalyze” shows that Rose is buried deep in her mind with how she perceives her mother. She thinks these are obvious facts and thus don’t qualify as psychoanalysis. I’m going to borrow from an earlier post again, to discuss the contrast between the ways John and Rose interpret their guardians. Here goes:

Both of [John and Rose’s] perceptions of their guardians could not be further from the truth and the ways they are far from the truth could not be more different. Rose’s perception of her mother inverts John’s perception of his father in every way. John thinks his father loves clowns though he is really just pretending, while Rose thinks her mother pretends to love wizards even though she really does love them.


A major point with the guardians is that they are twisted around a lot from how they would ideally be. John, Rose, and Dave all understand each other’s guardians better than they do their own and I think it’s quite depressing it turned out this way. A rough idea this leads to is that Rose and Dave would have been better off with their guardians swapped; I wouldn’t be surprised if this contrast is part of what inspired Hussie to devise the kids’ ectobiological family tree.

This inversion (not classpect inversion you dumbass) has important implications about the kids’ friendships. It really seems like they would be incomplete or just flat out not understand the world without each each other by their sides. And it takes seeing each other’s lives firsthand through Sburb for them to realize these connections and truths about their guardians.


Comparing it to John’s ordinary living room filled with a collection of clowns, it’s no surprise that Rose’s living room houses a giant swath of wizards in a setting a bit more eccentric than before. The two things that are likely to stick out to readers—the bronze vacuum cleaner and the squid princess doll—are explained shortly, so I’ll go over them as I go along.


You descend to the living room area of your home’s expansive open layout. There is the sound of rushing water beneath the floor. It tends to strike guests as a strange presence in a living space, but it’s become hardly audible to you through familiarity. 

This small paragraph briefly mentions guests who apparently visits Rose’s house and after all this time, it’s still an ENORMOUS oddball. In the old version of this post, I brought up this bit of text and though I didn’t point out how out of place it was to suddenly mention houseguests, it was clear based on how much I analyzed it and tried to speculate that it really stuck out to me then. And it sticks out to me just as much now.

Over the years, the human Prospit dreamers’ adult selves have had their backstories slowly but surely demystified: first through elaboration in Dirk’s exposition sequences, then through Hiveswap, and then through the Skaianet Systems documents. But the Derse dreamers’ adult selves are the opposite: over time they have almost gotten more mysterious. Dave and Dirk’s conversations go in depth on how much is unknown about their adult selves, and Roxy’s adult self is almost as mysterious as they are (though we do know now she was Joey and Jude’s babysitter). The brief mention of houseguests really does seem like a random one-off for the sake of poetic narration, but I can’t help but dwell on it and imagine what sort of deeper backstory the author might have intended for Rose’s mother. If it weren’t for Dave bias, maybe there could have been some in-comic speculation about the Lalondes’ adult selves like there was with the Striders.

There’s the front door. But hopefully there’s no need to make the long trek around the house in the rain. You might as well see if you can slip through the kitchen and out the back unnoticed.

And here’s where Rose proves herself to be just as childish with her guardian as John is with his.


A while ago you gave this as an ironic gift to your MOM for mother’s day. You even customized it with a drink holder to support one of her ubiquitous ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES. 

She “liked” the gift so much, she had it bronzed and put on this pedestal. She even left it plugged in so it can still be turned on now and then. But never to do any cleaning. It never leaves this display. 


Sometimes at night when you are in your room, you can hear it wailing from downstairs. She MUST know you can hear it. She’s completely deranged.

Ah, this odd little thing. When you reread, it’s clear that Rose’s mother will dramatize anything Rose does because she’s slobbery and overly affectionate. This is interesting to read considering that I just recently wrote a post going through Roxy acting that way to Calliope. Reading this part makes it especially clear that Roxy expands on her adult self’s hidden trait of extreme affection.

The alpha kids’ character traits and interests are largely expansions upon what we know about the guardians. Usually, I think those expansions of traits work really well and make for enjoyable characters! Even with Jane to an extent, despite the criticism her character so often gets. Roxy’s super-affectionate side is generally worked well into the story too, making for some insightful and/or hilarious storytelling. But I think this trait of Roxy’s falls flat sometimes, especially during BULLSHIT: The Act, which is sometimes referred to by peasants as “Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 5”. Even before BULLSHIT: The Act, Roxy’s affectionate trait has always fallen flat on its face any time she conversed with Calliope. If you want a full discussion on the problems I have with this sort of thing, read pretty much all of this post.

Obligatory reminder that Rose’s interest in knitting was all John’s doing.


The PRETTY PRINCESS DOLL has been sitting there for months, ever since your mother got this abomination for your birthday as a totally PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE gesture.


You decided to make it much less abominable by knitting Her Majesty a new head and new arms. Now it brings a mischievous smile to your face whenever you walk by. Your mother hasn’t removed the doll yet, and probably never will. She would never be the one to blink first.

Rose’s counterpart to John’s harlequin doll is a little interesting. Rather than getting a doll similar to John’s as the story progresses, she already got one for her birthday back in December. And it shows how long ago she got it because she carefully knitted onto it a squid decoration. I take the way Rose’s doll is decorated as a hint at her silly side, considering that it always brings a mischievous smile to her face.

 


Next Rose goes into her kitchen and we learn about quite a few passive-aggressive battles between Rose and her mother.

The LIQUOR BOTTLES are out in full force. MOM is surely nearby.

Oh yeah, Rose’s mother is an extreme alcoholic. If it weren’t for the retcon fixing Rose’s alcohol issues in advance by the time she enters the merged session, surely her reunion with Roxy would have been more on the sad side like Dave’s guardian reunion was.

… Oh fuck I should really shut my lid on retcon complaints, not to mention Dave bias complaints. The last thing I want to do is end up starting another rant about you-know-who. I’ll also say that despite bias complaints, Rose’s guardian reunion was a good heartwarming scene and I’m happy enough with the way it occurred.

As we go down the refrigerator, we go through examples how Rose and her mother function together. 

This was a drawing you did of your cat JASPERS when you were younger, along with a poem about him. Your mother bought this ostentatious $15,000 frame for it, and had it welded to the door.
The top part of the fridge gives an example of Rose’s guardian dynamic when she was younger, back in its formative days. I think I’ve said enough times now that adult Roxy is crazy affectionate.
Out of all words Rose could have come up with, she wrote “shrew”?

Probably a good summary of her character.

The bulk of the fridge shows us where this dynamic is now. It narrates a complex relationship out of the strangest, most trivial things imaginable.

Using the colorful MAGNET LETTERS, you recently left a succinct message, which may or may not have been directed toward anyone in particular. But you couldn’t find the letter W, so you just stuck two V’s together.

And now I’m going to analyze one of the strangest, most trivial things imaginable. It’s obvious at this point that Rose takes a passion in doing anything strange and overly complicated and tends to exert that passion by doing, uh, something to her mother that I don’t think anyone can really understand. Maybe her spelling with magnetic letters was an attempt at working with a new art form. She clearly struggled with writing that way, as the word spelled out on the fridge shows.
Rose and Dirk conversation when?

Rose’s mother responded by purchasing a pack of twelve magnetic W’s. I think I’ve said the same thing enough times about adult Roxy now, so this time I’ll say a different thing: I don’t think Rose as the child and Roxy as the mother led to a very good relationship. Is it any wonder that Dave started to think of Roxy as a mother figure as soon as he saw her while Rose decided not to think of her that way? Not out of malice or dislike of her guardian, just that she’d rather know her simply as “Roxy”.

The birth of the velvet pillow, one of the best running gags in all of Homestuck.


Rose left a signed, watermarked thank you note with a drop of blood. Her mother put a pillow below it because the note was partially touching the floor. This hammers in the contrast between mother and daughter.

It’s hard to resist getting a little silly sometimes. Especially when you are absolutely positive no one is watching.


Now that Rose is done examining her fridge, her silly side blows full force. This moment needs no explanation or commentary whatsoever, but omitting it from this post would be a heinous crime.


After a few more antics, Rose’s mother suddenly appears!!! More of Rose being just as childish as John.

You don’t know how she does that. You’re never safe in this house. 


And of all things to be doing during a power outage. She’s up to her IRONIC HOUSEWIFE routine again. That mop bucket doesn’t even have any water in it! What an absolute madwoman.

Housewife you say?

I wouldn’t doubt that Rose’s mother is a bit lonely raising just one kid. Maybe she does things married women would stereotypically do to fill such gaps before she meets up again with her true love.

Rose youth rolls to avoid her mom and then…

Lousy goddamn stupid wizards.


This line is somehow a fitting point to switch to someone else. I can’t really place why.

Dave Strider, your neighborhood window repair expert.

(I still think that joke is funny.)


HE’S SMILING, HOLY SHIT

(yes I know it’s technically three pixels not one)


Have I ever said that I fucking love the whole notion that one pixel could serve as immense shipping fuel? There is not a shred of doubt in my mind that the author did this only to prove a point. And who would’ve guessed, the point was proven.

GG: hi dave!! 
TG: hey sup 
GG: not much sup with you!! 
GG: bro! hehehe 
TG: haha 
TG: good one 
TG: s’alright being chill i guess you know how it goes 
GG: great! feeling cool today? 
GG: mr cool guy? 
TG: oh man you know it 
GG: sooooo cooooooool!!! 
TG: you know shit is ice cold up in here 
TG: shit is wicked bananas i am telling you 
GG: 😀 


I talked about Dave and Jade as a romantic pairing in the old version of this post, but in a really boring and matter-of-fact way. This time I’ll talk about it in a slightly less boring, slightly more matter-of-fact way.

Of all the pairings between the beta kids, Dave and Jade are ship teased by far the most. All other pairings between them are at most vaguely hinted at, but those two being teased is a universal constant. It’s a little weird and forced when we first see them converse, but after that it’s pretty fun for the most part with a lot of very silly or heartwarming conversations. Jade and Davesprite’s relationship in particular gives some insight into both characters that is kind of untouched in a lot of ways because Jade is shafted throughout Act 6, especially near the end.

The rest of this pesterlog is mostly just Jade revealing clues about herself. All of these clues are true but not in the way you would expect; you can tell the author had fun writing in such a misleading way.

GG: so have you talked to john today??? 
TG: yeah we were just talking a while ago about how he sucks at his sylladex 
TG: can you believe he uses stack that kid is ridiculous 
GG: lol 
GG: well that doesnt sound like much fun! 
TG: what was it you use again… 
TG: wait nm 
TG: i forgot whenever we talk about your goofy modusses i get a migrane. what do you want with john 


The “goofy modusses” part is true but not in the way one would expect. It’s also not the way you would expect something to be “true but not in the way one would expect”. Readers at this point assume that all the kids’ fetch modi are based on types of data structures and will probably be surprised to find that Jade’s are all based on board games instead. I’ll talk more about all the pattern breaking when we meet Jade in person.

GG: 🙂 
GG: i want to tell him happy birthday and ask him about his birthday package! 
TG: oh yeah 
TG: i was being sort of cagey and told him to check the mail cause i was wondering if mine came yet 
GG: i think it did! 
TG: yeah? 
GG: and i think mine came too 
TG: so uh 
TG: i guess you want to know if he likes it or something? 
GG: no!!!!!!! 
GG: he will not open it 
GG: he will lose it!!! 
TG: oh 
TG: uh 
TG: wow sorry to hear that i guess? 
GG: no its good actually! 
GG: because he will find it again later when he really needs it
GG: which of course is why i sent it in the first place! 
TG: see like 
TG: i never get how you know these things 
GG: i dont know 
GG: i just know that i know! 
TG: hmm alright 


This of course is where we learn that Jade knows things about the future. How does she know that? Let’s not dwell on it, shall we?

I have already talked about my grievances with Jade’s character in my early acts before; there’s another Jade pesterlog later where I plan to rant about these grievances. These annoyances are somewhat made for by the wonder that is Act 5 Jade and the gorgeous flash where the truth is all revealed (NOBODY TALKS ABOUT [S] JADE: PESTER JOHN COME ON YOU COWARDS), but not enough that I don’t still see her early character as a bit of a weak spot.

GG: anyway i have to go! 
GG: i have to feed bec which is always a bit of an undertaking 
TG: man 
TG: if i were you i would just take that fucking devilbeast out behind the woodshed and blow its head off 
GG: heheheh! 
GG: i dont think i could if i tried!!! 


The descriptions of this “Bec” are true in a surprisingly literal way. This passage seems like a silly joke but when you reread this passage there’s nothing even remotely false or exaggerated in it.

TG: yeah 
TG: say hi to your grand dad for me too ok 
GG: ._. 
GG: yes i guess an encounter with him is almost certain 
GG: it is usually…….. 
GG: intense!!! 
TG: well yeah isnt it always with family 
TG: but he sounds like a total badass 
GG: yeah he totally is!!! 
GG: anyway gotta go! 
TG: see ya 
GG: ❤ 


John has a dad, Rose has a mom, Dave has a bro, so Jade definitely has a grandpa, right?

Jade’s perception of her grandfather and how she pretends he is alive is still an odd bit after all this time. We only get just some small hints every now and then that she is isolated from society, such as the one-off jokes where she cleans Dave’s towel with toilet water and where she secretly wondered whether her grandpa was Iron Man.

God, I can’t imagine what it would be like if Dave and Jade switched places in how much the late comic cares about them. Even without the battleship journey where John and Davesprite brutally died, Jade could have had some scenes just as sad as those with Dave if the story actually gave her even half as much attention as Dave got.


TG: alright 
TG: im out of my room now looking for my bros game 
EB: oh, good! 
EB: yeah, there is no sign of rose yet, i hope she is ok 
TG: well if she comes back ill be ready 
TG: you better know what youre talking about cause this could get ugly 
TG: brought my phone and i also took my awesome katana with me in case things get too hot to handle 
TG: and they always do 


Switching back to John, we skip a bit forward in Dave’s story. This pesterlog does a surprisingly good job at establishing timeframes. It kind of reminds me of how I kind of have two Homestuck post series going on at the same time, my “classic” posts and my rewritten posts.

EB: i’m in my room again, i really think there’s someone else in this house. 
EB: like monsters or something. 
TG: howie??? 
EB: haha I WISH. 
TG: dude monsters arent real 
TG: thats stupid kids stuff for stupid babies 
EB: maybe. yeah you’re right. 
TG: what are you an idiot 
TG: of course there are monsters in your house 
TG: youre in some weird evil monster dimension come on 
TG: skepticism is the crutch of cinematic troglodytes 
TG: like hey mom dad theres a dinosaur or a ghost or whatever in my room. “yeah right junior go back to bed” 
TG: fuck you mom and dad how many times are we going to watch this trope unfold it wasnt goddamn funny the first time i saw it 
TG: just once id like to see dad crap his pants when a kid says theres a vampire in his closet 
TG: “OH SHIT EVERYONE IN THE MINIVAN” 
TG: be fuckin dad of the year right there 



I’ve said two things about Dave’s trope dissection in the early acts and I’ll say these two things again: (1) Dave’s trope dissection is absolute gold and (2) I consider it to be the predecessor to Dave’s meta-commentary on the comic itself, which is even more gold.

EB: how’s it going there? 
TG: im out in the living room hes usually here 
TG: but i dont see him 
TG: might be playing his mind games hes always pulling this ninja shit 
TG: all i see is lil cal over there so i guess he cant be far 
EB: hahaha. 
EB: oh god. 
EB: SO LAME. 
TG: what 
EB: see… 
EB: i just don’t know why you think it’s cool. 
EB: his ventriloquist rapping thing. 


Here John digs a bit into Dave and the stuff he keeps telling himself is true. He knows that it makes no sense for Dave to think that puppet is cool and that he only keeps telling himself he likes puppets. John tells Dave this in a rather subtle way.

TG: oh lil cal? no man 
TG: lil cal is the shit 


This line is one of these times which reads differently if you consider who repeats it in the future. Dirk says the exact same line about his puppet later on. That callback isn’t just there to exist; rather, it tells us how Bro repressed Dave into thinking (or rather, telling himself) the exact same thoughts as him.

EB: that’s fine, you are entitled to your opinion, i am just saying that being a white guy who is a rapper with a ventriloquist doll is not cool by any stretch of the imagination or by any definition of word cool, ironic or otherwise. that’s all i’m saying. 

John speaks the truth. Especially with the word “ironic”. That word is the epitome of things Dave keeps telling himself that he knows aren’t true. Dear god is he wrapped up in nonsense.

TG: yeah bullshit 
TG: cal is dope 
TG: puppets are awesome 
TG: john egbert blows 
TG: the end 
EB: yeah, more like the opposite of all those things is the thing that is true! 
EB: i’m going to read. 
EB: good luck with your bro. 


Dave speaks blatant lies. Especially with the phrase “john egbert blows”.


Rose has an interactive strife with her mother which is mostly an expansion upon John’s strife flash. It’s full of silly moments and callbacks to the “Auto-Parry” from Problem Sleuth. Some of the scenes in this flash are called back to, either in equally silly scenes or surprisingly dark scenes. “Silly scenes” refers to the many humorous moments in the Oppa Toby Style section of Collide, especially with Roxy’s attacks; “surprisingly dark scenes” refers to Damara’s strife with Doc Scratch. 

Not shown: this pony’s debut in Rose’s strife flash.


You can’t be this stupid pony, and frankly you can’t imagine why anyone would want to! 

But you give the pony a begrudging pat on the snout anyway. 


Her name is MAPLEHOOF.

Rose’s hate for sappy, sugary things continues in full force.


When John reads a portion of Data Structures for Assholes, proto-Karkat is revisited. I think that Karkat’s character was mostly subconsciously inspired by this book, whose writer has the same general archetype as him.

These next few pages I’m going to cover in a similar way to the old version of the post: John’s scenes in one paragraph, Rose’s scenes in another paragraph. In reality, these pages alternate between the two and I decided to change things up for easier formatting. Wait no, that’s a lie, I didn’t actually end up doing that.

Would  any scene from Con Air be even remotely considered iconic if not for Homestuck?


John strifes with an imp over the course of three interactive flashes. The first is a simple reenactment of the iconic “don’t move or the bunny gets it” scene. The second is a bit more complex, with a short walkaround and battle system where John hits the imp a few times until he gets hurt. I have to say that although walkarounds in the comic’s usual sprite mode style look super cool, they aren’t all that fun to go through; switching to 16-bit art and talksprites was absolutely worth the trade.

Rose makes her way to the mausoleum and damn this fire art looks cool.

I’m kind of burnt out on discussing the Sburb video game mechanics at this point.

Unless something super interesting crops up.
The victory fanfare playing every time John collects grist is another thing the homestuck.com flash messed up.

Use this link if you want that fixed.


The last of John’s imp strife pages features him weaponizing his sylladex, then collecting all his grist. It’s kind of cool seeing him make good use of those sylladex mishaps.

Whenever John is triumphant or emotional in the early acts, he takes out those emotions by reenacting a scene from Con Air.


The echeladder is a very silly parody of needlessly complicated leveling systems in RPGs. It combines two of the most fun things about the early acts: strange video game systems and big lists of absurd names.

John’s victory dances are great, I could stare at them for hours.

For old time’s sake, I very much appreciate that Roxy reiterates John’s victory scenes many acts later.


Page 413!


Skipping several pages, the next interesting that happens is when Rose enters her cat’s mausoleum. Jaspers’ resting place is a bit comparable to Nanna’s jar of ashes; considering how Rose’s home is generally a bit stranger than John’s, it makes sense that Jaspers’ coffin is in a more eccentric setting than John’s dead family member.


And this parallel is made clearer when Rose knocks her cat’s tomb out of the way. It’s reminiscent of John knocking down his grandmother’s ashes. The pattern of dead family members that get prototyped is one of those patterns that only occurs with John and Rose. That pattern’s lack of full execution is addressed in-comic when Jade says that Dave is too cool to have any dead family members. It makes sense that pattern is toyed with so much because Dave’s and Jade’s sprites both wonderfully subvert expectations.

Sorry, Jaspers. Have to make space for the LAPTOP. 


Besides, your final resting place is already a mockery. You should have decomposed years ago under a bed of petunias like a normal cat. Not given to a taxidermist and fitted with a tiny, custom-tailored suit, and then stuffed in a coffin built for infants.

A taxidermist you say?

I take this line as a subtle early clue that the kids’ guardians know more than they let on, or at least that they’re all connected in some way. Jade’s grandpa is a proud longtime stuffer of corpses and I’d bet he was the taxidermist the narration mentioned.

There’s a bit of a continuity error in the narration, which the book commentary addresses:

Rose, you are being disingenuous. He was fitted with a tiny, custom tailored suit well before he died. It was his standard day-to-day ensemble. You are just grasping at straws for ways to criticize your poor mother.

My favorite part of the book commentary might be silly bits like this, where continuity errors or moments that don’t make sense are addressed. In this case, a quick tongue-in-cheek explanation is devised for why the narration said something that doesn’t match with what we see later.

I find it interesting that this page is in the same orientation as the first page of Homestuck.

Though that orientation is probably just meant to make Nanna’s dramatic entrance more clear, it doubles as a quick indicator of John’s room then vs. now.


John notices something amiss with his door, leading to another one of Homestuck’s most common pranks: the water bucket on the head. Pranks really do seem to be a simple archetype in the comic, done by anyone under the Egbert name. Or is more accurate to say anyone under the Twain name? Under the Crocker name? Oh whatever, you know what I mean.


Turns out this is a character establishing moment for Nannasprite. The whole notion of “pranks” in John’s family line is a strange metaphor for things that run in the family and it somehow works pretty well. Nanna is no doubt a highly experienced prankstress.


Rose catches up with Dave (or rather, reveals what Dave will be up to in the future) and then we get this interesting bit:

TG: hey 
TG: dont tell john this but i think he might have been right about the puppets 
TG: theyre sort of starting to freak me out a little 


“Don’t tell John” is something of a recurring pattern among the kids. They all think he’s too innocent to know harsh truths. Pretty much anything that’s hidden from him is hidden for no good reason. Well OK, in this case Dave just doesn’t want John to know that he was right and instead banter with him as usual. He likes Rose, but he loves John—too much for his own good. He’s scared to change anything about his relationship with John.

This pattern of not telling John things could have been made into a serious arc near the end. It is revisited near the end in a very silly way: Dave thinks John shouldn’t be told who Betty Crocker’s true identity is because he’ll have a mental breakdown, but when John learns it he surprisingly handles it like a mature person.

I’m also going to borrow something from the old version of this post: Dave even remarks that maybe John was right about the puppets; this is an early example of John’s specialty in convincing people of things and leading them in the right direction, commonly speculated to tie in to his role as a breath player. I think this statement is good insight and makes sense but I might have ripped off this idea from someone else’s analysis, I don’t remember.

Interestingly, I’m at a point now in these rewritten posts where it’s beneficial to look back my current post’s old version for reasons other than laughing at it. The old version of this post was mostly boring garbage, but I did say a few insightful things in it.

TG: i mean dont get me wrong i think its cool and all 
TG: the semi-ironic puppet thing or whatever 
TG: or semi-semi ironic 



“Semi-semi ironic” indicates that Dave is 75% of the way to realizing the truth. Keep going buddy, you’ve almost got it.

TG: man i dont even know 
TG: im just starting to think some of this shit is going a little far and its kind of fucked up 


I’ve long criticized the alpha kids’ storyline for completely changing their dynamics all over the course of one day, especially with how they all acted completely happy and friendly with each other at the start. This is an instance of something similar happening with the beta kids: apparently, only this day does Dave start to confess he’s unsettled by his guardian. There’s a pretty fair excuse for this one: today’s the day where he has his biggest, most brutal swordfight of all. By “excuse” I mean narratively, not an excuse for his guardian’s actions of course.

TT: I’ve seen his websites. 
TT: I like them. 
TG: haha yeah well YOU WOULD 



This line says way way way more than most people realize. I’ve talked before about the recurring theme that the kids (or at least Dave and Rose) would be better off with guardians swapped; this is the biggest instance in Rose’s case. In Dave’s case it’s made very obvious as the story progresses, but in Rose’s case it’s only mentioned briefly at a few points. As I say this, I know Bro Strider is kind of a puppet lunatic but if he and Rose both communicated in equally obtuse and complicated ways then maybe they would have come to an understanding and both cut down on their weirdnesses.

Another thing this hints at is that a Rose/Dirk conversation would be an absolute godsend and Hussie is a hack for not giving it to us.

TG: oh man i wish lil cal wouldnt look at me like that 
TG: with those dead eyes jesus 
TG: sometimes i dream that hes real and hes talking to me and i wake up in a cold sweat and basically flip the fuck out 
TT: Interesting… 
TG: oh god why did i just tell you my dream 
TG: youre going to have a field day with that 
TT: I am currently scrawling notes furiously into one of the many psychoanalysis journals I maintain for you. Published papers forthcoming. 
TT: Because, you know, it’s not like either of us have anything better to do at the moment than to evaluate each other’s radically debilitating pathologies. 


As he goes through his mental breakdown, Dave leaks out a bit that we aren’t supposed to know yet. In just a few pages we’ll see bits of Prospit and Derse, but not until much later will we see how much it all ties together.

Rose mentions Nannasprite and then parts ways with Dave.


Let’s talk about sprites.

In Sburb, the role of sprites is simple: a guide character through the early stages of the player’s game, both in exposition and powers. But in narrative role, sprites are one of the oddest and least consistent sets of characters. They all start up purported as exposition guides but lose that role as the story goes along and as the kids’ session goes off the rails, so only Nannasprite serves the exposition role and the other sprites’ roles are very different.

Jaspersprite is a symbol of Rose’s innocence and how far she has gone since starting the game, Davesprite is a second Dave who gets to do a lot of things the “real” Dave doesn’t, and Jadesprite is a subversion of basically everything about sprites. The trolls’ lusus sprites seem to play it straight but are mostly glossed over, with just a few things said about them. And the alpha kids’ sprites are just excuses to make amalgamations of characters, also did I mention that Hussie is a hack for not making Fefetasprite talk ever?

Sprites seem to be the general “whatever the story wants” characters. This is shown in their varied set of abilities, which I had listed in detail in a very old post (the old version of post 6, not the old version of this post). Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to kindly borrow material from my past self.

What sprite powers are there exactly? Besides her eye beam attack shown above, Nannasprite is able to heal people’s health (ties in with her post-scratch self’s aspect), write using eye beams, and even conjure objects like a ghost bed and oven; there’s also Calsprite’s puppet attacks, Davesprite’s ability to deface posters, Jaspersprite’s far-reaching tentacles (which come from the princess doll), Becsprite’s amplified first guardian powers used to shatter the giant meteor; not to mention the powers squared sprites get, like memories of alternate versions of their components, teleportation by summoning fenestrated walls, and other random knowledge like Jasprosesprite^2’s knowledge of Nepeta, or Davepetasprite^2’s urge to fight Lord English … I don’t think there’s really a set rule for what powers sprites get, maybe it’s just new powers as the plot demands.

This “whatever the story wants” role is kind of shafted in later acts, but it’s brought to full force with the squared sprites as I just said. When the squared sprites become a thing many many pages later, Rose bonks on her head with a pillow and boy can I not blame her.


NANNASPRITE: Your father was kidnapped! 
JOHN: oh no! 
NANNASPRITE: When you crossed over to The Medium, he was apprehended by the very forces of darkness which your presence here has awakened. 


It’s only natural that this sprite exposition sequence is filled with early installment weirdness. I’ve talked plenty about stuff the author planned in advance, but not so much about stuff the author planned that doesn’t happen. I’m not talking about BULLSHIT: The Act; rather, I’m talking about early installment weirdness and the hints at things that weren’t fated to be.

It seems like at this point, Hussie had lots of wild ideas for underlings being affiliated with Derse, connected with agents and denizens and whatnot. But those ideas didn’t really go many places after this introduction sequence. The agents—all of the named Prospitians and Dersites really (I’m not even sure which are and aren’t “agents”?)—are much more of their own set of characters with their own stories than a gear in the machine of Sburb’s forces. We do sometimes see those characters doing required, predestined things but it’s all very much in the background. It doesn’t help that at this point WV is the only carapacian character we’ve seen so far and we don’t yet know anything about his backstory.

JOHN: what? ok, so what is the medium you are talking about? 
NANNASPRITE: It is where we are now! A realm that is a ring of pure void, dividing light and darkness. It turns in the thick of The Incipisphere, a place untouched by the flow of time in your universe. 
JOHN: you mean because we are inside a computer, or in the game software or something? 


I still maintain that John was so excited for Sburb that he completely forgot what it was about. That’s the best explanation for why he wasn’t surprised that objects could be moved around his house. It’s also why he thinks he’s inside a computer or whatever.

… Actually, maybe this whole time he thought he was going to be inside a computer. I’m sure he’s seen plenty of awesome movies of this type. He mentions liking Japanese mangas at one point; perhaps he’s a fan of Sword Art Online? (I know fucking nothing about anime/manga, feel free to make fun of me for mentioning that one.)

NANNASPRITE: A computer? Why, what is that, dear? Some new fangled contraption, like the horseless auto-boxcar? 
JOHN: well, uh, it’s like this machine that, uh… 
NANNASPRITE: Hoo hoo hoo! Of course I know what a computer is, John! I was just pulling your leg! Hoo hoo hoo! 
JOHN: oh, ok. 


More indication that Nanna is a longtime expert at pranks. She knows her way around them incredibly well.


A cool little flash plays introducing us the world of Skaia, with music that gives a sense of intrigue and wonder. I don’t have anything to say on Nannasprite’s exposition on this topic, but I do have something to say about part of the book commentary:

Ultimately there are a lot of guides in HS, not just game-supplied ones. Characters who know more than others, and fill in details such as this, either specifically to be helpful, or just in passing conversation, or outright begrudgingly. That is, it continues to be like an RPG. The player keeps gathering information about the quest from many different sources.

This is actually a completely fair excuse for why sprite roles are subverted and shafted as the story progresses. It’s not any different from how RPGs tend to do things.


Next we revisit the sequence where John’s kernelsprite split up. It’s one of those times where we look at an old scene from a new perspective, with the player/reader’s knowledge broadened thanks to Nannasprite’s knowledge. Many works of media sometimes look at old scenes from new perspectives, but the way Homestuck does it feels like a special kind of storytelling. Though it’s probably my fault for being this obsessed with Homestuck.



These images above show some of the changes that happened when the sprite reached Prospit and Derse. It caused all constructs in this world to be clown themed—basically all the carapacians and imps. I almost kind of understand the misconception that WV is an imp now. Also I want to say these chess designs look super cool.

Nannasprite reveals a twist to the game: the forces of light are always destined to lose, not that readers have any idea what that means yet. John learns that his first goal is to build his house up to the first gate and then comes to a very “John” conclusion:

I could stare at this dance for hours too.


JOHN: ok, i think i get it now! 
JOHN: so i guess the battle against good and evil is sort of irrelevant? well, i don’t know, that all sounds kind of weird, but in any case, we build the house to get to these gates, and then i can save my dad! 
NANNASPRITE: Yes, John! 
JOHN: and then after that, we solve this ultimate riddle thing and save earth from destruction!!! 


John doesn’t understand any of this at all; he just pieces together what he can about things heroes in video games typically are meant to do and concludes he has to save his father and then save the whole world. 

NANNASPRITE: Oh no, I’m afraid not! 


… And there’s the punchline. Punch as in John feels like he just got punched cold in the face. The animation in the panel above is beautiful, please take a moment to appreciate it. 

NANNASPRITE: Your planet is done for, dear! There is nothing you can do about that! 
JOHN: oh… 
NANNASPRITE: Your purpose is so much more important than saving that silly old planet, though! 
JOHN: and that is? 
NANNASPRITE: HOO HOO HOO HOO HOO! 


Nannasprite leaves to bake John some cookies and he goes full circle to where he started: annoyance at overexposure to baked goods. It’s only natural that I end this post here, just like I did with the old version of this post.

See you next time as some stuff happens, I think? I don’t really remember what, Act 2 is a little boring after this point.

Next => Part 6: Imp Madness and Can Openers

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.

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Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 8: Mayorly Foreshadowification Station

Introduction

< Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 >

Pages 666-758 (MSPA: 2566-2658)

Act 2, Part 5 of 5

NEW: Link to rewritten version (I recommend you read it instead of this post)

You are now the Wayward Vagabond.

Last time, we saw Dave exploring his puppet-filled living room and John making a rad pogo hammer. Now we get to know the bizarre being commanding John. The Wayward Vagabond is given commands much like the kids are, but we see some differences between him and the kids. Aside from the obvious fact that he’s not a human, he doesn’t have a sylladex, instead picking stuff up with his bare hands. He screws around in his command station, just like how the kids all screw around in their houses. He makes a city out of cans (the eponymous Can Town), and he fantasizes about being the mayor of the town.

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Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 7: Land of Swords and Smuppets

Introduction

< Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 >

Pages 562-665 (MSPA: 2462-2565)

Act 2, Part 4 of 5

NEW: Link to rewritten version (I recommend you read it instead of this post)

NOTE: Posted this one early because I’m gone for the weekend.

Just another title picture I guess. All of said pictures were added when I was on post 30-some.

A bit of a stretch to call this a “kitchen”.

Last time, we focused mainly on John as he sees the mess that was made of his house, and Dave as we get a glimpse of his brother’s stuff. Now, Dave examines the rest of his living room, which has, well, a lot of things in it. Swords, turntables, Game Bro magazines, Xbox equipment, nunchucks, skateboards, baseball caps, power cords, creepy comics, shurikens, fireworks, and most prominently, those fucking puppets. His brother flash-steps around the room and moves objects at a whim, in a way that’s more than a little unsettling. And then we go to the kitchen which is filled with dangerous stuff, and no actual food anywhere—something that’s played for laughs at this point, but much later what TV Tropes calls “Cerebus syndrome” kicks in and Dave portrays his old home life as legitimately unsettling when he vents out all his frustration about his upbringing. One thing of note is that Dave seems to know the Scrabble letter point values by heart—why is that? He isn’t portrayed as a nerd who would know that kind of stuff like John is (though he does have a nerdy side). Maybe his brother would challenge him to intense Scrabble competitions every week? Maybe those Scrabble competitions were intended to train Dave to be an expert at his fetch modus, which would make sense given the other insane training his brother is known to do, like sword fighting. It’s pretty amusing to imagine Dave playing Scrabble against his brother, who I like to think is nightmarishly adept at that game. 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. That might make sense given that Dirk has a florid vocabulary, like Rose. Anyway, maybe it isn’t too far-fetched to know all the Scrabble point values; I only play Scrabble once every few months or so, but I could probably list out all the letter values with at most two or three mistakes. Then again I’m into memorizing stuff.

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Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 6: Imp Madness and Can Openers

Introduction

< Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 >

Pages 429-561 (MSPA: 2329-2461)

Act 2, Part 3 of 5

NEW: Link to rewritten version (I recommend you read it instead of this post)

JOHN YOU DO NOT SAY NO TO COOKIES. I COMMAND YOU TO GET THEM.

Last post cut off at the end of Nanna’s exposition session, a natural stopping point. Now we continue to see John throwing a tantrum about cookies, since he’s had more than enough baked goods today, not to mention the wrath of Betty Crocker. WV is upset that John doesn’t want to eat cookies, and commands him to get cookies; these childish flip-outs about mundane things are one of John’s defining traits (see also: the time he flipped out because he suddenly hated Con Air). As Dave once put it: “thats classic john though he doesnt get pissed about anything except for the absolute dumbest shit”. It’s easy to miss that John even sticks up his middle finger in the corner of this page. WV then accidentally turns off Caps Lock, opening a capsule with food and a book on human etiquette.

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Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 5: Grandmotherly Expositation Station

Introduction

Part 4 | Part 5 Part 6 >

Pages 358-428 (MSPA: 2258-2328)

Act 2, Part 2 of 5

NEW: Link to rewritten version (I recommend you read it instead of this post)

NOTE: I know “expositation” isn’t a word, I just wanted to make “exposition” rhyme with “station”.

Here’s another title picture, in case you forgot. This one is meant to match the name of this post.

Lousy goddamn stupid wizards.

Last time, we got a taste of the weird shit that happened to John now that he made it into a mystery world, and we learned how Dave lost those Sburb discs. Now we see what Rose is up to. She examines her wizard-adorned house, and we see how strongly she believes that her mother has no real love for all those wizards she litters her house with. One thing I just now caught is how Rose sometimes has guests visit her house: the narration says, “There is the sound of rushing water beneath the floor. It tends to strike guests as a strange presence in a living space, but it’s become hardly audible to you through familiarity.” What’s the deal with those guests? Are those her mother’s fellow scientists or something? It’s weirder because Rose’s house is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, way out in the forests of upstate New York to be specific. “Forest” and “New York” are two words that sound a little weird together, given that New York makes most people think of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building.

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

Introduction

< Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 >

Pages 248-357 (MSPA: 2148-2257)

Act 2, Part 1 of 5

NEW: Link to rewritten version (I recommend you read it instead of this post)

Where John’s house ended up.

Act 2 of Homestuck opens up by skipping years in the future, but not many (if 413 years can be deemed as “not many”), to a post-apocalyptic desert Earth. A certain black-colored being referred to as a “wayward vagabond” walks across the desert and comes across some kind of device with the arc symbol spirograph logo. Then, Rose starts her Sburb walkthrough with her trademark nigh inscrutable purple prose, with the standing-out quote: “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.” Shit just got real.

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