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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
> 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.
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.
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 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?
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.
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”.
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.
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.)