Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 11 Rewritten: Magical Dreams and Retroactive Clowns


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Pages 952-1051 (MSPA: 2852-2951)

Act 3, Part 3 of 5

Link to old version


Right now my priority for this blog is my main Homestuck post series I started in 2015 where I’m currently on Act 6 Act 5; this post is a bit of a divergence from the plan I’ve laid out. I finished my newest post a few days ahead of schedule, so I decided to do a rewritten post to release on Friday instead. I mostly did it as a bit of a breather from the absurd romance drama I sped through.

Who’s this guy?


At the curb of Act 3’s halfway point, it’s time for us to meet Spades Slick’s lookalike.


Spades Slick? 

Got a nice ring to it. 

But you know your own name. And that damn well ain’t your name.

Jack Noir’s naming is done a bit differently from other characters. He doesn’t have a naming box; rather, he’s meta-aware of Hussie’s fingers typing his name. The book commentary here is worth reading:

Jack at this stage is the villain. Villains in Homestuck tend to be meta-villains. That is, they exist much closer to the surface of the story’s meta-bubble, and often interact with the way it’s told. For instance, Jack Noir is the original owner of the 4th wall. (See next page.) As a universal bureaucratic game construct, he can keep tabs on everything going on in the session, including just outside the story.

Though Jack Noir is a meta-villain, there are limits to this, possibly tied to his personality. It could be the scope of his ambition never includes messing with the story itself. His desire for power lies entirely within fictional parameters. Later, there are much more flagrant meta-villains, in Doc Scratch and Lord English. They live on the surface of the meta-bubble, and at times badly puncture it. All iterations of Lord English in total basically represent the ultimate meta-villain. Though it takes a very long time for this to become apparent, and for it to be revealed exactly what this means.

I think it’s fair to assume this villain foreshadowing and easing in was intentional. Act 3 is filled to the brim with hints at the trolls’ backstory, the alpha kids, and (much more subtly) the cherubs. Jack Noir’s higher degree of meta awareness than the beta kids is a subtle but useful way to ease readers into the times villains start taking over the narration. On the topic of characters taking over narration, if you somehow haven’t read Detective Pony *****PLEASE DO SO IMMEDIATELY*****, then come back here.

Hussie enters Jack’s name and rank, leading us to his short introduction page.



You are ARCHAGENT JACK NOIR. You oversee various affairs of a DARK KINGDOM. Presently you are determining how to deal with this prisoner, who has been a thorn in your side since he was apprehended. 

Funny that I just got done analyzing the portion of the comic where the alpha kids’ Draconian Dignitary reveals he successfully imprisoned Dad Crocker by giving him a nice, cozy cell where he can communicate with Dersites about ties and shaving and start crazy fashion trends. Noir, on the other hand, isn’t good at the social side of things. Like it or not, what he’s best at is managing paperwork (and destroying everything he touches if given the power to).

You view the affairs of the kingdom through a series of FENESTRATED WALLS. You have three walls, nearly enough to form a CUBICLE OF VIGILANCE, which is a full and proper enclosure for an agent of your stature. 

However, much to your utter contempt, your FOURTH WALL was stolen some time ago.

What a cheeky pun. I don’t think I need to go over the timeline and story behind the various physical fourth walls in Homestuck, though I will say it’s probably for the best Jack’s fourth wall was stolen. Though Hussie’s book commentary states that Jack probably isn’t villainous enough to want to mess with the story itself, his desire to destroy everything BLEW THE HELL UP after the Droll killed Jade which was some time after he gained the ability to destroy everything. Who knows if he’d have taken the chance to mess with the fourth wall if it wasn’t stolen?


After we establish that Jack absolutely hates dressing like a clown, he introduces us to Hearts Boxcars’ lookalike, the Hegemonic Brute. The Brute brings something heavy to keep Dad enclosed in prison and holy shit is this guy strong.

This guy can never catch a break, can he?


But right after the Black Queen (gender-neutrally referred to as the Glorious Monarch) reminds Jack to wear his clown hat, we learn that Dad Egbert is even stronger than the Brute. That’s the only role HB ever plays in the story: he gets his ass handed to him to show how tough other characters are.


Meanwhile in his father’s room, John finds some unopened birthday presents his dad was going to give him. First off is the one on the right:


It’s a control deck that lets John customize his fetch modus! He now has way more captchalogue cards, which is… cool? I forgot the fetch modus game mechanic stuff even existed and it’s kind of weird going through it at such an on-and-off pace. Let’s pretend I am enthusiastically cheering John on for switching to a simple array modus, then confused that he settles on a queue-stack-array blend modus.


Though I won’t lie, the queue-stack-array modus looks sick. It’s a visual upgrade to the original that’s high on the weaponizability scale.


You have a staunch policy of always saving the biggest present for last. 

ALWAYS.

Now that’s something I can relate to right there. Let’s see what the leftmost present is!

Could this birthday get any better? You don’t think so.


John’s victory dances are so cute. He’s incredibly happy to get a fresh pack of delicious Fruit Gushers.

You thought wrong.


He’s even more delighted to get a fancy suit for his birthday, which is surprising but makes sense in a heartwarming way: it shows John and his father have a common interest in dressing like businessmen. Deep down, John has a lot more in common with his father than one may think, which is shown in full in the Candy Epilogue: similar fashion tastes, the exact same romantic tastes, and most of all, extreme immutable pride for his son. Remembering how proud he always was of young Harry Anderson is the one thing that finally snaps John out of his internal loop that everything is fake, because he can’t accept anything that would put his son’s realness at odds.

John inspects the box of Fruit Gushers and notices something amiss:


THE HEINOUS BATTERWITCH HAS HER GNARLED CLAWS IN EVERYTHING. 

What do Gushers have to do with baked goods anyway?? 

How does this make sense??? 

Why???? 



WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY??????????? 


If you didn’t know, Hussie’s book commentary explains that he didn’t know Fruit Gushers were made by Betty Crocker until a reader suggested John to inspect the Gushers box.


Suffice to say, the author doesn’t have an easy time processing this. John promptly has a mental breakdown in a flash with dramatic music, as if this was some kind of terrifying revelation that uproots everything he thought he knew and now he can never see the world the same way ever again.

As with FACEPALM x2 COMBO, I knew about this running gag before I read Homestuck.

Except John quickly realizes this is a completely stupid thing to freak out about. The beta kids’ universe was merely the Condesce’s test run after all.

Another flash originally scored by Bill Bolin. Though I like Mutiny more as a song, An Unbreakable Union fits much better with the flash.


Up next is Jade’s true guardian strife, [S] Jade: Retrieve package. It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen before! This page shows us that her dog Becquerel has magic teleportation powers and overall ungodly strength, with occasional glimpses at the Green Sun and various other locations in the comic. All this crazy plot stuff planned in retrospect and showed way ahead of time is truly something to behold.

Jade and Bec are moving in this image; Grandpa is still as ever because he’s dead.


The strife flash ends with a cheerful victory sequence as if nothing unusual ever happened. Just a happy girl hugging her wonderful dog, her taxidermied grandpa by her side as ever. Jade in the early acts is a normal human being with normal human values.


Jade: Retrieve package was filled to the brim with hints at events and plot points that were probably fully planned by this point. Jade’s narcolepsy, on the other hand? I am almost certain the truth behind it was a retroactive decision on the author’s part, as are most things involving that one character‘s self-importance. Later that character’s self-importance becomes a cosmically retroactive decision, because after the retcon she took over Gamzee’s plot role in the alpha session with only a few differences.


Though Bec is a mystical dog, he does take proper care of Jade and takes her to bed when needed. It looks like he even tucked her blankets, truly in the spirit of dog loyalty.


Oh, you’re back home. The well-stocked bar and the vantage from the window tells you this is your MOM’S room. Or at least what you thought was her room. 

You decide not to be especially melodramatic about this revelation.

If you’re rereading knowing who Roxy is, you’ll know that Rose had just unknowingly passed by her mother’s real room. She’s already showing signs of being considerably more wrapped up in her supposedly noble goals than the other beta kids are, and not taking time to progress through the kids’ usual narrative.


Just a few seconds later, the meteor strikes the Skaianet lab and Rose needs to get out of there. It’s important she brings the cat with her, because I’m at least 80% certain a whole bunch of vital time loops would be broken if she didn’t.


Suddenly you are feeling very businessmanlike for some reason. 

You just punched a shitload of cards in anticipation of making a whole lot of cool stuff. This time you didn’t foolishly destroy any items. You just looked at the codes for some objects you rounded up, and punched them on blank cards. 

As the alpha kids’ Dignitary can attest, it seems that Homestuck characters automatically feel businessmanlike the moment the put on a fancy suit. Feeling businessmanlike puts you at far less risk for stupidly decimating your sylladex.


Next up, Jade dreams and THAT’S where things get fun. Jade has a dreambot that echoes everything she does in her sleep. For the next few pages we get some neat dual storytelling, with the dreaming world on top and the real world on the bottom.


> Jade: Obliquely foreshadow future through interpretive dance

Your silly dance foreshadows nothing and is essentially meaningless. 

But it sure is a lot of fun.

“Foreshadows” and “nothing” are two words that should never be put side-by-side in any context even remotely related to Homestuck. Everything in the entire story is interconnected in one way or another; sometimes the connections are of debatable intentionality, but that’s the fun of analyzing media. In this case, the interpretive dance is the last thing Jade’s dreambot does before it explodes.

Still not sure why characters in Homestuck always sleep with *this* of all poses…


You climb into bed and try to get comfortable. But some sort of invisible force is pressing down on you, a strange feeling of cold heavy metal. 

This happens every time you try to get into bed! No wonder you can never get any sleep.

This funny little moment has a bit more to it than meets the eye. It strongly suggests that Jade and her dream self are two different consciousnesses who share a small amount of memories. This difference is also demonstrated in pesterlogs which we don’t yet know were typed by dream Jade.

I always thought it was a little weird that dream Jade was so different from waking Jade when we didn’t see much other difference between players and their dream selves. But looking back now, I think I have a good explanation for why that is. I think the dream self’s memories diverge from the player’s memories the moment the dream self consciously wakes up for the first time. For most players, the dream self’s awakening occurs shortly before or during the game, but for space players the dream self has usually been awake since childhood. Maybe dream Jade and waking Jade have the same memories and knowledge from the first few years of their lives, but have had many years since then to diverge and are now effectively two different people. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same held for Kanaya and Calliope’s dream selves, who we don’t see as much in action because they don’t have dreambots. As I said in a post from years ago, this is also why it makes sense that Jadesprite is even less like regular Jade, because she spent eons in dream bubbles getting to know a bunch of ghosts implied to be the Beforan trolls.


> Jade: Realize you can fly!

There is not much to realize. 

Of course you can fly.

I imagine the reader who suggested this command thought it would be funny if Jade suddenly realized she could fly, but it turns out Hussie had already planned that to be true. It’s not just that Jade already knew, it’s that Hussie already knew. Or at least I assume he did. I think I have a good grasp of Hussie’s motives when writing early Homestuck, if only because I’ve read Homestuck so many times.


Jade then taunts us with a mystery package—she already knows what’s inside. I don’t remember exactly how this package time travel arc plays out, other than that it involves the exiles following instructions written by dream Jade. I think the package is mirrored between its dream projection and its real-world self? Kind of stupid to use the word “self” to refer to an inanimate object, but that’s Homestuck for you. I’m probably wrong about all this.

All of John’s clown scribbles are in Rose, Dave, and Jade’s text colors.


This leads us to a birthday flashback with a huge surprise shot: John seems to have had clown scribbles on his walls months before the story started, which we had never seen before. This will lead us to enormous dramatic irony when John comes in his room and finds all his posters defaced, which he thinks was the imps’ doing.

This image also confirms Rose, Dave, and Jade’s birthdays which is a good bonus.


— ghostyTrickster [GT] began pestering gardenGnostic [GG] — 

GT: hey, happy birthday jade! 
GG: yay thank you john!!!!! 😀 
GT: whew ok, i got your present in the mail JUST on time. 
GT: plus i sent rose’s and dave’s too. 
GT: why do your guys’es birthdays got to be all bunched together like that??? you are running me ragged! 
GG: heheh i know but it is nice of you to think of us all like that! 
GT: i can’t wait for you to see what i got you. i don’t want to spoil it or anything but hopefully it will help you solve those problems you’ve been having lately. 
GT: MYSTERIOUS WINK 😉 
GG: im sure it is great, i cant wait either!!!!! 
GG: it might take a while to get here from there but it will be worth the wait! 
GT: oh man. 
GT: i am such an idiot, i forgot about how long it takes you to get stuff. 
GT: ARGH. 
GG: john thats ok really! im sure will get to me exactly when it needs to and it will be a nice surprise when it does! 


Jade is awful at lying, which is fine because John is gullible as all hell. She speaks in her usual cryptic tone and cleverly hides that John’s gift is going to be sent back in time. It’s crazy how easy it is to forget about all the time loops in Homestuck’s early acts.

GT: ok well i hope so. 
GG: <3…… 
GG: uhhhh hold on 
GG: ok im back sorry 
GG: i had to tell someone to go away! 
GT: oh god. 
GT: the trolls again? 
GG: yup 😮 
GT: they have been such a pain in the ass lately. 
GT: it seems like there are so many. 
GT: there are either like fifty of these retards or it’s one guy with a lot of alt accounts. 
GG: ive never had any sort of feeling about them or what they want which is kind of weird!!! 


Jade’s last line here implies she never learned anything about the trolls in her dreams. I’m guessing Skaia’s refusal to show her anything troll-related was to make sure she didn’t believe anything the trolls told her about the day they fuck everything up; we see in later acts that Skaian clouds can show any scene from anything.

GG: but it seems to me like they are probably all different people and not one guy 
GG: i have counted twelve 
GT: what do they want with us!!! 
GG: some people just like to needle others for some reason john
GG: it is like a game i guess. they are like pranksters!! 
GT: oh hell no, shittiest pranksters ever. 
GG: but i think they are mostly harmless 
GG: every so often they manage to get through my block filter and hassle me. its been going on for years! actually some of them are kind of funny i think hehe 
GT: oh wow, what? years?? 
GT: ok, well i am sick of them. 
GT: i’ve been thinking of changing my pesterchum handle to throw them off the trail. 
GT: so… 
GT: i guess i’m gonna do that. 


There are so many mystery seeds planted in this conversation, which seems simpler now than what it later turns out to be. We don’t know that Terezi led John to come up with the chumhandle “ectoBiologist”, or that the troll who just hassled Jade was talking about something important to the plot.

… Wait, hold that thought. I think the time Karkat trolled past Jade about her dreambot was really just fulfilling a stable time loop, wasn’t it? God damn, thinking about all this plot stuff is kind of giving me a headache. The exact opposite kind of headache I get when I spend a long time analyzing a relationship drama section. Meat and candy, I’m telling you. The dichotomy is off the charts.


Every time you reenter your room, you shudder at the recent handiwork of some mischievous imps. You just can’t turn your back on them for a second! 

Rotten imps. Those posters were like children to you.

Wonderful use of dramatic irony. We just got done learning that these posters were defaced the whole time.


At long last, you have returned to your bedroom with a stable power supply and internet connection. 

VODKA MUTINI purrs at your side. 

You SUPPOSE you will call it Mutie for short.

Vodka Mutini is a great name. I don’t think it’s any question that Rose is the best out of the beta and alpha kids at naming animals.


Rose pesters John in a sequence I love EVERYTHING about. The psychoanalysis portion where Rose reveals to us the story behind Dad’s supposed interest in clowns is brilliant in every way and is one of the best things to come out of Rose’s character.

TT: That’s quite a totem collection. 
TT: What are you planning? 
EB: oh whoa hi! 
EB: oh… 
EB: gonna make some stuff. 
EB: are you ok? hasn’t your house been on fire for like… 
EB: five hours now? 
TT: No, that was the nearby forest, which up until quite recently would have been best described as “on fire”. 
TT: But you may be excited to learn that just as recently, my house finally notched that achievement. 
EB: wow, congrats i guess? 


Rose in the early acts is an absolute treasure. Thought I’d point that out before I get into the meat (loaded word, dammit) of this conversation.

TT: I’m going to start putting this grist to use too. 
TT: Let’s be sparing with the frivolous knickknack breeding and focus on getting you up to the gate, ok? 
EB: yeah, ok i hear you, but… 
EB: i think we’ll have plenty. i’ve been killing imps all over the house and now its lousy with gushers. 
TT: Gushers? 
EB: i mean grist. 
EB: serves them right for ruining my posters. the bastards. 
TT: Which posters? 
EB: don’t you see? my sweet movie posters. look at them, they’re fucking ruined. 
TT: John. 
EB: ?????? 
TT: Are you suggesting that imps are responsible for defacing your movie posters? 
EB: uh, YEAH? 
TT: Your posters have looked like that ever since I first saw your room. 
TT: The moment we started playing this game. 
TT: I thought you had defaced them ironically to mock your father’s interests. 


It’s so funny to me that Rose initially thought John defaced his posters to mock his father’s interests. While her initial analysis is as absurd as all the nonsense she thinks about her mother, all it takes for Rose to bring out her true psychoanalysis skills is for John to disprove her first hypothesis.


I love this panel so much. John looks like an angry businessman slamming his keyboard, perhaps frustrated that his bills didn’t arrive on time and exerting all his anger on an innocent coworker.

EB: VERY FUNNY ROSE HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA 
EB: NICE JOKE 
EB: GREAT JOKE THERE ROSE 
EB: TOP OF THE LINE PRANK 
EB: HE HE 
EB: HA HA HA HA HA 
TT: This is good. 
TT: Laughter is probably the best way to avoid being especially melodramatic about the revelation. 
EB: yes 
EB: YES 
EB: LET’S KEEP THIS JOKE GOING 
EB: BECAUSE IT IS SUCH A GOOD ONE 
EB: HA HA HA HA 
EB: OH MY 
EB: HA HA HA HA HA HA 
EB: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA 


John’s sarcastic laughter is all it takes for Rose to put the pieces together and figure out the story behind John’s clown scribbles.


Now we check out what WV is up to. He’s in a bit of a predicament right now: he’s stuck on top of his command station and doesn’t have enough cables to climb all the way down. The exile arc is probably where reader commands shined the most in Homestuck: WV first declines a command to use his mayor sash as cable, then declines a command to appearify the frog temple.


Instead of following any suggested commands, WV notices someone else carrying a cable down—perhaps someone who knew that he needed help and that he didn’t want to sacrifice his mayoral sash. This surprising moment of friendship is a really cool way to add a third exile to the mix.

First explicit confirmation WV is male.


WV tries to appearify the cable but ends up appearifying John’s birthday package to Jade because the machine was set back a few hundred years. The package contains a letter to WV from Jade, which confuses him just as much as it probably confused readers. How could dream Jade know nothing about the trolls but be perfectly familiar with the exiles? We’ll find out soon enough.


WV then appearifies the cable and successfully climbs down, which transitions us a sneak peek at our third exile, the Aimless Renegade. This sneak peek shows him as an aloof but probably friendly exile, who seems to be a bit of a weirdo given that he’s wrapped in caution tape. I find it entirely unsurprising AR is such a fan favorite.


It’s time to go through John and Rose’s psychoanalysis session. Are you ready?

EB: ok, while i make some stuff here can you keep an eye out for imps? 
EB: just keep the safe or tub handy or something. 
EB: it’ll serve them right for trashing my posters. 
TT: I keep telling you the posters were always like that. 
EB: AND I KEEP TELLING YOU HA HA VERY FUNNY 
TT: Here, look. 
TT: http://tinyurl.com/O413nanna 
TT: http://tinyurl.com/O413weirdo 



EB: yeah, i saw those, but… 
EB: they didn’t look like that before. you must have changed them. 
TT: Even if I had the motive for such a bizarre and pointless deception, where would I find the time? 
TT: I don’t even have Photoshop. 

Funny that Rose mentions not having enough time to edit these images when she somehow managed to write an enormous wall of text in Jaspers’ mausoleum while her forest was burning down. Though maybe it makes sense she wouldn’t have the time to edit her images of John, since she doesn’t seem to be much of a visual artist.

EB: then why didn’t you TELL me they were there??? 
TT: I had no reason to think you were not aware of them. 
TT: I thought they were strange, certainly, but was not struck by any particular impulse to discuss them. 
EB: ok, it still doesn’t make sense though. 
EB: implying that i drew them a while ago and then forgot and couldn’t see them and now suddenly see them. 
EB: that’s stupid, what would that even mean. 


Here we’re about to see what sets Rose apart from the other beta kids. She can read between the lines and notice cosmic connections that fly over her friends’ heads. Sometimes it’s for the best her friends don’t care about those connections, but here cosmic connections are going to spark something HUGE in John’s mind.

The book commentary on this page rightfully pokes fun at John/Rose shippers. How boring can you even get???


TT: It looks like you were in your father’s room recently. 
EB: yeah. 
TT: And how did it make you feel to discover what was in there?
EB: oh no, i just realized! 
EB: you are going to psycho-therapify me. 
EB: well don’t bother! 
TT: Maybe I am just being a friend? 
EB: maybe… 
EB: /EYES SUSPSICIOSLY 


Though John likes to poke at Rose for acting like a stereotypical psychologist, he obviously doesn’t mean bad by it and finds her analysis fascinating and a lot to take in. Terezi likes psychoanalyzing John too, in a slightly more flirty way. (And eventually way more than just “slightly”.)

EB: anyway i guess you saw what’s in there, it’s boring and there’s not much to even see. 
TT: That doesn’t matter. 
TT: What matters is how seeing it affected you. 
TT: I think it clearly has in some way. 
EB: well… 
EB: i don’t know, at first i was nervous to go in and find more of his weird clowns, because of course they are stupid and i hate them a lot. 
EB: but then when i didn’t see any, it was weird. 
EB: i felt weirdly, like… disappointed almost. 
TT: Is it fair to say this changed your perception of your father? 
EB: yeah, i guess. 
TT: Is it such a stretch to conclude it changed your perception of other things as well? 
EB: uh no, maybe not. 
EB: but what are you getting at? 
EB: it sounds like you’re saying i’m crazy! 

TT: I don’t like to use the word “crazy”. 
EB: oh god. 
EB: see?? this is therapy bullshit! 
TT: That was a joke. 


Even though she said it in a deliberately stereotypical way, Rose is right about the word “crazy”. In the field of psychology, it’s a meaningless catch-all word that’s only useful if you want to dismiss people who you know are right.


TT: But anyway, whether it means you are crazy or not, consider this theory: 
TT: Your presumably longstanding tendency for scrawling this imagery is really your subconsious trying to express something disturbing within you. 
TT: Possibly something from your past, which you have blocked out. 
TT: And since you have supressed it, your conscious self cannot acknowledge the drawings, therefore they have been invisible until now. 


Before explaining Dad Egbert’s motives, Rose starts up a new mystery arc: what disturbing thing caused John to subconsiously draw clowns all over his posters? We’ll know what it is later in this post, but the story behind how it got there is saved for near the end of Act 5. I wonder if Hussie had already planned by this point to reveal Gamzee was behind the clown doll? It’s likely he at least planned for Gamzee to be an oddball among the trolls, knowing his chumhandle. He’s the only one whose motifs aren’t related to his zodiac sign (juggalos instead), and he had nothing even remotely resembling plot relevance until he turned evil and then was revealed to have dealt massive damage to the Black King.

EB: why now? 
TT: Perhaps because you have seen evidence that conflicts with the worldview your subconscious has constructed to obfuscate the truth. 
TT: That your dad is not necessarily the clown-loving maniac you thought he was. 
TT: All along, this negative attribute buried in your psyche may have been projected on to him, and subsequently reviled, as a sort of defense mechanism. 
EB: but this is absurd, my dad LOVES these shitty clowns. 
EB: he’s got all these statues and paintings EVERYWHERE. 
TT: Is it unthinkable that over the years it was he who believed you were the one with a passion for clowns? Because of the all the strange drawings in your room? 
TT: A father then embraces a son’s hobby to establish a stronger bond. 


And there’s the reveal of why John’s father pretended to like clowns. It’s both a demonstration of Rose’s analytical strengths and a step in a huge chain of events that leads to the human universe’s destruction. Rose’s analysis of John’s father is easy to trust because she immediately offers a blatantly false alternative explanation:

TT: Or wages a campaign of passive-aggresive mockery of your interests. 
TT: Either is plausible. I don’t know your dad that well. 

It’s too bad Rose thinks her mother is passive-aggressive. If she opened her mind to alternative analyses like she just did with John’s father, she’d know the truth about her mother before she’s tragically murdered.

EB: i dunno. 
EB: not sure about all this. 
EB: but i think we need to stop and acknowledge the bunny sassacre fedora i just made. 
TT: It’s awesome. 
EB: yeah. 


This heavy plot revelation is immediately followed by John being an absolute dork. The bunny sassacre fedora is one of the best things to come out of Homestuck, and I’m glad Rose agrees.


Then we see Rose’s progress on building up John’s house. It kind of looks ridiculous with so many tall chimneys; Rose says she’ll soon come up with a better strategy.


[S] Jade: Dream up extra arms and play advanced bass solo is another flash that was originally scored by Bill Bolin, and the only such flash where I think the old version is FAR superior. The old version has an EPIC drop and then another EPIC drop; the new version adds a scene where Jade presses keys on her bass to achieve a similar effect but it just isn’t the same.


The flash starts with dream Jade playing on her newly expanded bass. She somehow grew three extra arms and is smiling as she plays like it’s no big deal, which is an extreme case of early installment weirdness. Though all kinds of weird nonsense has happened in Homestuck characters’ dreams, this is the only time someone EVER undergoes such an unexplained bodily mutation. It doesn’t really matter though; this scene puts a smile on my face either way.


Jade’s dreambot plays the bass in the real world, which helps her plants grow. I think the whole motif of playing instruments to grow plants is a Zelda reference? Kind of weird because Homestuck doesn’t directly borrow much from iconic video games. I don’t know, it’s cute either way.


Just like with Jade’s relaxing bassline, we’re treated to a zoom-out even more surprising than the last one. At first it seems like Jade simply dreams in a pink and golden projection of the real world…


… but THEN pieces of the plot come together as the zoom-out reveals a golden planet called Prospit. Though it’s surprising to find Jade’s dreams take place on whole different planet, the puzzle REALLY comes together at the next zoom-out:


There we have it. A flash that starts as a silly advanced bass solo, but ends up revealing that Jade’s dreams take place within the world of Sburb. I can only imagine how crazy this reveal was for serial readers back then. I don’t think many people expected Jade’s dream world to have been connected to WV’s drawings and Nannasprite’s exposition the whole time.


> Jade: Change wardrobifier to cycle thru STAR HEART HORSESHOE

Ok, good idea. 

You leave the MOON in the cycle though cause you like it.

Here’s a reader-suggested command that Hussie liked and followed through with. I applaud whichever reader suggested to bring this Problem Sleuth reference to the table; it’s a great fit with Jade’s dream wardrobifier.

Note that four of the wardrobifier options are turned on in the image above: moon, star, heart, and horseshoe. All four of those are among the nine leprechaun romance symbols. I would assume that all the options on the dream wardrobifier are the leprechaun romance symbols, but there’s a tenth one unaccounted for (the topmost is a randomizer). In the spirit of MSPA, I’m going to assume the tenth one is a pumpkin. Let’s be real, what else would it be?


Jade explores the golden city and sees someone who looks familiar. Who could it possibly be??? (it’s PM)

I love the way this scene provides our very first hint at the exiles’ backstory as Prospitians and Dersites. It’s a bit of early installment weirdness, since next time we see PM in the past she’s wearing a slightly different outfit.


Meanwhile, Jade’s dreambot randomly floats around her island, echoing all of dream Jade’s moves. This serves as a convenient transition to the exile arc. We see PM right as that transition finishes, which further makes it obvious dream Jade just saw her past self.


Act 3 has been making very good use of scene retraces. They’re always shown side-by-side so you can’t really call them visual callbacks, but they do play a very similar plot role.


What exactly inspired Jade to pretty much beg WV to give PM her package in such a pushy tone and claim that “the freedom of [their] people depends on it”? Probably cloud visions that made it incredibly obvious WV likes being a mayor and PM likes being a mail lady. Maybe she also saw PM in person delivering mail, because this note was quite obviously written by dream Jade and the entire package is presumably mirrored between the dream and waking worlds.


The delivery mission has one problem though: AR is randomly shooting at everyone because he thinks he’s the lawyer of the frog temple or something. We don’t yet know AR wants to be a lawyer, but we will soon enough. Knowing how horribly Earth C’s politics fell apart in the epilogues, I’m suddenly sad AR didn’t get to rebuild civilization like the other two exiles did.


WV’s attraction to PM reminds me how separate the exile arc is from the rest of the story. Their storyline has its own unique charm and it’s unfortunately often forgotten about.

First explicit confirmation that PM is female.

I think Jade’s letters are a very creative way to confirm the exiles’ genders.


WV finally gives PM the present! Hooray!!!

Why are John’s clown scribbles glowing?

I think it’s to convey to us that these scribbles are mirrored in the waking world and/or early installment weirdness.


Jade flies to the other tower and checks in on John’s dream self, who apparently “will wake up when he is ready”. The panel where we see inside John’s dream room is a major wham shot, especially the scary clown doll. It both answers (the first half of) a plot mystery and foreshadows the main antagonist of the first five acts, which is really damn cool. Sometimes it impresses me how efficient Homestuck can be at driving mysteries.


Speaking of John, you wonder if he got the birthday present you sent him? Or for that matter, if you even remembered to send it? 

Darn! You get so confused sometimes. If only you had some system in place to help you remember things.

This page again shows us that dream Jade is considerably more forgetful than regular Jade. The book commentary on this page is very interesting:

Jade’s dreaming confusion and forgetfulness is kind of an odd symptom that’s never quite been duplicated by another waking dream self. There are two possibilities. One is I was still ironing out the dream self rules early in the story, and that symptom never panned out for others, OR, it is because her sleeping habits are imposed on her unnaturally by external forces. GUESS WHICH EXPLANATION I PREFER.

As a wise clown once said: can’t it be motherfuckin’ both things? It only makes sense that external forces, which may or may not be code for a certain self-important troll girl, would retroactively make themselves responsible for cases of early installment weirdness and story inconsistencies. I absolutely fucking hate that all this retroactive justification through *this one character* makes metafictional sense. Note the word “metafictional”—no way in HELL it makes regular plain old “sense”.


Your MOON is getting very close to SKAIA. You had better go inside soon. It is never a very good idea to be outside during the ECLIPSE. 

Maybe you can take the opportunity to log onto your computer and ask John about his present. You just know he will think it is awesome, and it will be a great way to thank him for the wonderful present he got you!

This scene hints that one of Jade’s early conversations with John was typed by dream Jade, which is fully confirmed a bit later. A very good example of feeding attentive readers breadcrumbs towards the grand reveal.

I’m ending this post here, just like I did with the old version of this post. See you next time as we go back to Act 6 Act 5 and read Detective Pony’s lesser-known sibling. And see you at some point in the future as I go through the last 100 pages of Act 3, ending with an iconic flash that is just SO GOOD AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. correction: next 50 pages of Act 3, featuring an amazing flash that SHOULD be iconic but everyone forgets about for some reason.

>> Part 12.1: Scrawlings in Puddles of Sloppy Discharge

Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 10 Rewritten: Scene Hops and Father Revelations


Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 >

Pages 836-951 (MSPA: 2736-2851)

Act 3, Part 2 of 5

Link to old version

Previously on Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Rewritten:

See you next time as we frantically switch back and forth between a whole bunch of different characters like the Easter Bunny running late for his annual job of delivering candy and eggs to the world’s children, this time during an actually fitting time of year. I wish I could say I had planned my post schedule to make the Easter joke work, but nope, just an incredibly lucky coincidence.

*clears throat*
*puts on pretentious narrator voice*

The day is June 5, 2019, and the Easter Bunny is displeased. He got so distracted reading and rereading the Homestuck Epilogues that he’s now over a month late for his annual job of delivering candy and eggs to the world’s children!!! So late, in fact, that a monkey took over Easter this year and delivered yummy bananas instead. Kids all around the world now eagerly await the Easter Monkey next year, much to the Easter Bunny’s contempt. The Easter Bunny shall exert revenge on this frisky little monkey by, um…

by…

writing more blog posts about Homestuck?

In this blog post, I am the Easter Bunny. It’s me. And I am going to announce that I think I’m now ready to resume my Homestuck blog post series. Maybe not on a custom web domain just yet, that’ll have to be in the future. I’ll just dive right in, conveniently avoiding the fact that I’m procrastinating on the post with the Unite Synchronization flashes and Caliborn: Enter.

It’s time for Dave’s guardian strife! And it’s not interactive this time. Rather, it’s a full-out flash of Bro Strider flash-stepping and puppeting Lil’ Cal, who ends the flash flailing his legs over Dave.

My reaction to this flash when I got to it in my original Homestuck post series really sticks out in my head and probably happened because it hadn’t been all that long since the grand Dave/Dirk reunion update. I was floored and breathless at how aggressive adult Dirk is. Is there a word for standing with an open mouth and breath held while watching something tense and aggressive? If there isn’t, then that’s one more reason to hate the English language.


Next up is a Jade/Rose pesterlog that takes place before Rose was properly introduced.

… Yeah, Rose and Jade’s styles badly clash as usual. Same thoughts as when I last analyzed their conversation where it’s kind of a stretch to call them friends. The plot stuff in this pesterlog is of note though.

TT: I require a font of frighteningly accurate yet infuriatingly nonspecific information. 
TT: Do you know where I can find a wellspring of this sort? 
GG: hahaha yes ok but we cant talk for long!!! 
TT: You have plans? 
GG: well yes i do but its just that you will lose your internet connection soon!!!!! 
GG: and we wont talk again for a pretty long time 
GG: not until you enter! 
TT: Enter? 
GG: yeah! 
TT: This is what I was talking about. 
TT: This was the itch that needed scratching. 
TT: My avarice for the inscrutable. It is limitless. 
GG: lol what did you want to know? 
TT: You’ve been insisting today was the big day. 
TT: We would all play a game you didn’t know the name of. 
TT: A game you said I’d get in the mail, and did. 
TT: One that would help me answer some questions. 
TT: But Strider is being obtuse, I can’t catch John at his computer, you don’t even have the game yourself, and on top of all that, my internet is unstable. 
TT: So are you sure today is the day? 


This is basically more casual reveals that Jade was behind a bit more than we knew at first. It’s kind of cool seeing a flashback conversation with Jade hinting at stuff we already knew, rather than her hinting at stuff we badly want explained in ways that aren’t imbecilic.

GG: there sure are a lot of challenges but yes i am sure!! 
GG: dave is cool, you know he will come around when the time is right 
GG: he just has a lot of work to do first 
GG: and so do you! 
GG: youll need to keep searching for a stable signal and power source, it will be hard but dont give up!!! 
GG: and dont worry about me either, focus on playing with john first 
GG: it all starts with you two! 
TT: Is there nothing else you can say to prepare me for this? 
TT: I’m sure you think little of blithely upsetting dark forces with Grandpa Moreau over there on Hellmurder Island, but honestly I’ve only read a few books on it. 


Maybe it’s because I’ve read the epilogues over and over again, but I think Rose talks almost like an actor with Jade. Exaggerating her poetic talk to the point where she’s hard to properly converse with. I think it’s fair to say she had broken the ice with Dave and John and can now talk to them like a regular person, but is still an absolute weirdo to Jade.

Oh yeah Rose mentions Hellmurder Island, blah blah blah foreshadowing. Was the foreshadowing intentional? Hell if I know. I would say no, but the phrase “hellmurder island” is dropped outright in Act 6 Act 1 which makes me think Hussie waited a long time to say it.

GG: haha dark? thats ridiculous! 
GG: i dont really know what to tell you other than its not going to be what you think it is 
GG: and most importantly you will have your questions answered, but they will be the ones you havent thought to ask yet! 
GG: just be patient and be brave youll see 
GG: it will be fun!!!!!! 
GG: uh oh looks like youve got to go 
GG: take care rose! <3<3<3 


In the old version of this post, I pointed out that this passage “[has] been cited as a quote that essentially tells new readers what reading Homestuck will be like”. At the time, that was just another thing I shamelessly stole from TV Tropes. But now, rereading it in 2019 I really feel that comparison. When I read these lines just now, I got the exact feeling you get when a friend tries to assure you that Homestuck is a good read. I’d argue it’s even more applicable to the Homestuck Epilogues—certainly not what I thought it was going to be, and answered many questions I hadn’t thought to ask yet, for better or for worse. And it definitely requires a lot of patience to fully consume the epilogues—perhaps also bravery to read along despite things you may not like (i.e. despite Gamzee).

oh my god this is good art


Here’s where the scene hops start getting a bit absurd. After the long stretch of pages focusing on Jade, now we can’t go more than three pages without switching to someone else. Harmless, welcome even, when reading for the first time; slightly annoying when writing long blog posts. I think the scene hops are a necessary step between the overly slow Act 2 and the ideal pace of Act 4.

We switch to Jade but not for long; her reminders transition us to a flash where John and Nannasprite fight two ogres. Using reminders as a transition device is fine I guess? Not much to write home about compared to some of the comic’s beautiful transitions later on.

Not shown: PM the mail lady existing. Holy shit, I miss the exiles.


Now it’s John’s turn to contribute to Rose’s walkthrough. And he actually displays a competent understanding of computer science! He professes “amazing hacker skillz” and “leet haxxor cred” which is just as funny to me now as it was almost four years ago holy shit has it been that long.

I suppose now’s a good time to talk about Roxy, an expert programmer who is also John’s number one love interest.* Even though they got together in the Candy Epilogue, Roxy did not teach John programming or anything like that, nor did she do very much with John that many fans (including me) had badly hoped. Their romantic tale in Candy is a story of OOF OW MY HEART. The two doing cool things together with their common interests is still a super fun thought though, and I wouldn’t doubt that their dynamic would approach its ideal form once more following their grand reconciliation at 39 years old.

Anyway, John’s walkthrough provides some genuine insight and humor. I highly recommend reading it if you had previously skimmed the walkthrough pages. It’s much more readable than Rose’s walkthrough, I promise.

* or was, until Terezi came along.


> Rose: Look for mad scientists.


There are no scientists to be found, mad or otherwise. Or anyone for that matter. The lab appears to be deserted. 

Come on, Rose. Do you really expect to encounter a single mad scientist in a webcomic called Homestuck? Background characters are an absolute no-go in the early acts and whoever submitted this command should feel bad for not having already realized that.


Oh my god, it’s a chessboard. I like the way this grid is designed; you might not notice it’s a chessboard right away until maybe you take a closer look. This simple chess design should be enough to pique readers’ curiosity at this mysterious lab.

The numbers in parentheses are my count of patterns Jade breaks, in case you forgot.


Jade goes down her stairs and (10) we get to know Grandpa Harley’s wide array of interests, which is much unlike the other three guardians’ singular obsessions. The flashing colors in each of these images are sneaky proof that Hussie planned out the alpha kids by this point. I really love that he foreshadowed them in such subtle but retrospectively obvious ways, with the bonus of answering the question of when he conceived of the alpha kids.

I’m obligated to mention that each of Grandpa’s four interests connects to one of the alpha kids. Should be obvious which is which.


And here’s, uh, the blue ladies. Not totally sure what to say about them other than that I imagine many readers who got to this page immediately remembered that Nannasprite is blue. Cool foreshadowing, I suppose? I like how Hussie seemed to put two and two together after he decided to make James Cameron’s Avatar one of Jake’s favorite movies.

This is your grandfather’s collection of what he refers to as his BEAUTIES. No lovely lady will be fit for his collection unless her portrait has spent at least 20 years bleaching in the front window of a beauty parlor, a sort of establishment he’s plundered no less frequently than ancient tombs. 


You guess they were sort of like your sisters while growing up, and you were always encouraged to look up to them. They are all awfully pretty ladies you suppose, but it was always hard to get as excited about them as grandpa. 

In the early acts, the beta kids referring to siblings in any capacity strikes me as a little odd. Maybe it makes sense here because Jade was raised on an island in the middle of nowhere and doesn’t understand a lot of basic social norms, like the concept of “sisters”. I don’t know, just a thought. A plus side of Hussie working with a team to write the epilogues is that one writer extrapolated upon Jade’s societal isolation in creative ways.

“Jade, study hard and keep your rifle at the ready. When adventure summons, I know you will rise to the task and take your rightful place among the DAUGHTERS OF ECLECTICA.” 

That old coot sure is a bag of wind!

Only now did it occur to me that maybe at some indeterminate point in time Hussie had some sort of conception of a place called “Eclectica”. I’m a bit miffed that I don’t live in a timeline where Eclectica is a major concept in Homestuck like Prospit or Skaia.


The Typheus minion exists? I think? I discussed it a tiny bit in this post, when Jade refers to it by name and talks about it with John.


Looks like someone’s pestering you. 

Even though you thought you logged off… ?

Oh hell, it’s TROLL TIME. This little line is a vague hint that Homestuck deals with people from another dimension, which would be way cooler if most people who know about Homestuck didn’t already know it had trolls.

carcinoGeneticist [CG] began trolling gardenGnostic [GG] at 13:04 

CG: HI AGAIN, IDIOT. 
GG: oh nooooooo 
CG: SO I GUESS TODAY IS FINALLY THE DAY YOU FUCK EVERYTHING UP.
GG: >:O 
CG: IS THERE NOTHING I CAN DO TO CHANGE YOUR MIND? 
GG: you can leave me alone!!!!! 
GG: how can you even be talking to me after i blocked you…. 
GG: AND after i logged out???? 
CG: YOU DON’T GET THAT I AM BETTER AND SMARTER THAN YOU IN EVERY WAY, FOREVER. 
CG: YOU DON’T GET THAT BECAUSE YOU ARE INCREDIBLY STUPID. 
GG: i get that youre a jerk and you should shut up! 
GG: goodbye you jerk!!!!!!!!! 

gardenGnostic [GG] blocked carcinoGeneticist [CG] at 13:06 


OK, that’s the end of TROLL TIME. This pesterlog does what it needs to and nothing more: showcasing a new character with apparently some future knowledge without revealing anything about who it is. I won’t pretend I have much else to say about Karkat’s first impression.


At the center, you find a little stage that looks perfect for supporting a spectacularly silly dance. Or it would if standing on it didn’t make you a little nervous, and also if that didn’t sound like a retarded idea given the circumstances. 

It looks sort of like the various contraptions you’ve been deploying in John’s house. You wonder what it does?

Rose is quick to catch onto patterns as usual. She doesn’t seem to make much of this resemblance to Sburb technology, but on the inside it’s safe to say she’s already started formulating a fresh new batch of theories.


Rose’s concern for structural elegance is at an all-time low, as is my concern for sylladex antics. But this panel above looks cool enough that I’ll show it regardless.


In a sequence of panels not shown here, PM gets her own equivalent to WV: Ascend. We already know all the plot twists and exile station mechanisms, so no need for another giant flash. A simple set of panels showing similar events is good enough.

Dave’s second round of Bro strife is much more face-to-face and even more terrifying/thrilling. For the most part, this flash is scary as ever when rereading and really drills down how scary Dave’s childhood was. This feeling reaches its climax when Bro bounces Dave off himself through some precise flash-stepping and puppetry, until suddenly:

SBaHJ references are a foolproof way to take a big hard smelly crap over any moment of horror or trauma. These references are so funny I can never stay mad at any of them; my personal favorite is the “are you next?” right after Kanaya is tragically murdered. This particular gag has some greater significance though: it leaks a bit that Dave’s life had yet to succumb to Cerebus syndrome.


Hussie you absolute fucking madman. Forget the meteor impact map or any of that nonsense. Instead, take a close look at one of the diagrams to the right. It’s a depiction of an eight-player session that conclusively proves Hussie had devised the alpha kids by this act. Bragging rights, anyone??? I think people aiming to write complex and long-winded stories should look up to Problem Sleuth and early Homestuck-era Hussie.


Back to the meteor map, Rose zooms in on her location and then zooms out to Dave and Jade’s locations. It doesn’t take a sharp eye to tell that John and his three friends are the “chosen ones” and that they will all play Sburb, with each player’s entry more grandiose and dramatic than the last. It’s always a pleasure to see foreshadowing that ends up true to the letter.

Having reconnected to the Internet, Rose opens Sburb on her laptop which transitions us to the second half of John’s ogre strife. Sburb as a transition device is pretty cool actually, and is used for quite a few elegant transitions in the early acts.


With help from Nannasprite, the battle ends with a cheerful victory dance and a triumphant high-five.

TT: Good work, John! 
EB: oh, hey! 
EB: you’re back. 
TT: For now. I’ll have to leave again shortly. 
TT: It looks like there’s another large meteor headed for… 
TT: My present location. 
EB: oh, so you mean dave connected with you? 
TT: Not yet. 
TT: I’ll explain later. 
TT: But I think I’ve determined that activating the timer in the game is not directly responsible for summoning a meteor to your location. 
TT: The countdown seems merely to exist as a kind of warning to the player. 
TT: As well as a strange coincidence. 


This short passage between John and Rose is good for getting less attentive readers up to speed. It clarifies that the countdowns exist as a warning, in case readers hadn’t figured that out yet.

EB: um, ok. 
EB: i don’t really think i get it. 
EB: is this relevant? 
TT: Probably not at the moment. And certainly not to you. 
TT: I have to go. 
EB: ok, later! 
TT: P.S. Try not to waste too much of that grist while I’m gone. 


John is a good obedient boy who listens to Rose’s words. He stays frugal with his grist until he figures more things out.

Not shown: John leveling up to the legendary BOY-SKYLARK rung.


JOHN: hey, nanna? 
NANNASPRITE: Yes, dear? 
JOHN: since i am trying to get up to that gate, and since you can sort of conjure floating beds and throw me around and all… 
JOHN: couldn’t you just throw me up to the gate? 
NANNASPRITE: Yes, of course, John! 
NANNASPRITE: But that would not serve your purpose well! 
NANNASPRITE: There is a very good reason why you should build up to it. And then keep building! 


Another case of the game refusing to allow obvious exploits. Sburb seems well-programmed at first, with care taken to prevent bypasses and skips. But that won’t last much longer. With trolls from another universe added to the mix, Sburb can and will be broken in all the best ways. We’ll see a lot of that in Act 4, get hyped.

NANNASPRITE: When you pass through the first gate, everything will change. You will find the place where the constellations dance beneath the clouds. And then your true work may begin. 

I can’t even keep track of these poetic phrases anymore. Hussie cranked out so many of them and the one quoted above is one of the most memorable.


Oh boy, it’s worldbuilding time. Derse is a planet that exists or something, I don’t really know what to say.


Look at the glorious Dad Egbert though. It feels so refreshing to see what he’s up to and very heartwarming to see the Egbert family all tackle these creatures.


Did he just…

punch a giant hole through a wall?

This guy’s absurd strength is one of the most underrated things about Homestuck. Please stop and take a moment to appreciate it before going on.

Skipped over the teaser of Jack Noir. I’ll have more to say about him next post.


Next we finally get to play as PM, the second exile. The narration firmly shows she’s obsessed with mail, treating it as a vital pillar of civilization and all that is good.


PM turns on Jade’s exile screen, the same screen WV chose not to turn on. And boy are we in for a surprise. The image itself invites a heap of questions already. Why is it snowing around Jade now? What’s this electric green interference?

Greetings.
Don’t I know you?


As we can see here, the image itself was just the tip of the iceberg. Why does PM recognize Jade? How did the green interference move to the command station itself?

I’d count this as a pattern broken, but I think it’s better saved for when this scene is revisited in Act 5 Act 2.


OH FUCK

WV was wise not to turn on Jade’s command screen. It would have caused the entire command station to explode! The exile screens’ serial escalation is done so perfectly, ending with a massive unexplained surprise whose true meaning nobody at this point could possibly guess.


Back to the Skaianet lab arc. While exploring the lab, Rose comes across some kind of little girl’s room? If you see through the garish bright pink, you’ll notice wizard and cat plushes abound, plus a bright pink version of the cat logo seen a few times in Rose’s residence, and might guess that this is where Rose’s mom grew up. This conclusion is way more obvious if you reread the comic knowing who Roxy is; it also shows how little Rose actually knew her mother.

You are accosted by a friendly MUTANT KITTEN.


This page needs no commentary. I included it out of obligation, because who in the world would want to read commentary on Homestuck if it ignores this wonderful page?

Not shown: John descending into his father’s room.


Holy SHIT. This image is a wham shot if I’ve ever seen one. Stuffed heads of Sburb underlings, a picture of Jade arranged like a memorial, and a structure colored like Prospit and Derse??? This picture asks so many questions, all through simple details.

As Jade prepares to face her grandpa, you may notice a set of four dolls representing his variety of interests. It’s only natural that since Grandpa has a multitude of salient interests, (11) he has a multitude of dolls to symbolize them instead of just one. And just like how Jade has one true fetch modus and one true shirt symbol, one could consider the blue lady Jade’s true “corresponding doll”. It’s the same doll that would almost get prototyped into her sprite until a certain someone interferes.


Jade finally faces off against her grandpa!!! And it turns out he was dead this whole time because Jade is a filthy stinking liar. (12) Jade’s grandpa is not her true guardian, as this joke flash shows us.

I’m really at a loss for words at this bait-and-switch. It isn’t even cleverly hidden or anything, it’s an outright lie. There’s no way you could read Jade’s descriptions of her grandfather before this page and not assume he’s alive.

I do think it’s worth pointing out that Jade’s imaginary interactions with her grandpa get Cerebus syndromed in Act 5 Act 2, where Tavros proudly reveals how her grandpa died and then hits on her. That scene isn’t talked about much which is a shame; it’s beautifully written and excels in “what the fuck” factor.

He was so much easier to deal with when he was alive.


This page hammers in that Jade’s grandpa is dead, if it wasn’t obvious already. Done right without seeming out of place.

Another pattern broken: (13) Jade goes outside without a misattributed quote coming to mind. Her misattributed quote is saved for when she enters the Medium. I’m suddenly sad now that we STILL don’t know the in-comic story behind Charles Dutton like we do with Harry Anderson or Barack Obama or Guy Fieri. The first Act 5 Act 2 book is coming in October; maybe Hussie will have a few words to say about Dutton there?


Let’s take a moment to appreciate the Sentry Worm. Nobody ever talks about this guy, what a shame.

I refuse to acknowledge that any reader could have possibly thought Rose would refuse to acknowledge the mutant kitten.

You can’t say no to cats, that’s a fact of life.


Rose encounters an appearifier styled like an arcade for some reason. Roxy is quite the fan of old video games so maybe it’s easy to imagine her pre-scratch self took an arcade and reprogrammed it to appearify things? I’m liking these obtuse hints at what kind of person Rose’s mother really is, all of which painfully fly over Rose’s head.


You mess with the controls… 

Hey, Jaspers is alive!!! 


Or, at least he was in the past. According to the time-stamp this was almost nine years ago. 

Rose is momentarily excited to see her cat alive before she reverts to her usual stoicism. Are you ready for something adorable?


Four-year-old Rose is sitting calmly in an oversized chair, patiently jotting down notes about her mysterious little cat. My god, look at her. It’s so cute to see that Rose has been a dedicated psychoanalyst since she was a baby.

It looks like you and Jaspers were having one of your sessions. You weren’t making a lot of progress though, because Jaspers was no doubt being characteristically recalcitrant. You possibly jotted this phrase down in your pad. It’s hard to remember though. 

It’s also adorable that Rose’s narration describes Jaspers as “characteristically recalcitrant”, instead of words that a normal 13-year-old would use.

Look at this cute little cat, playing with Rose’s scarf.


In the present, Rose tries to appearify Jaspers but ends up demonstrating the mysterious workings of ectobiology instead. As the book commentary states, this scene is something of a tutorial to prepare us for the scene where John creates the beta and alpha kids.

Whoever was operating this machine in the past may have been making unsuccessful attempts to perfect the science of ECTOBIOLOGY

“Whoever was operating this machine in the past”? Jeez, I wonder who that could be. It probably isn’t Rose’s mother or anything, that would be ridiculous.

Jokes aside, I think I’ve made my point by now that this scene reads way differently if you’re rereading. Rereading the comic is a necessity if you want to understand even a fraction of it and this scene is no exception. Mom Lalonde’s backstory is right in your face once you know who post-scratch Roxy is.


Back to the conveniently viewable flashback, Jaspers tells little Rose a secret and promptly vanishes and OH MY GOD, look at Rose’s expression!!! She’s stunned and beyond confused. I can’t believe it’s been almost five years since I first read Homestuck but I never stopped to appreciate four-year-old Rose—smell the roses, if you will (oh my god that’s a fucking terrible pun I’m so sorry).


After two weeks gone missing where not even the appearifier can show where he is, little Rose finds Jaspers dead. What follows is a gloomy flash fast-forwarding to the present.

Little Rose continues to make the cutest expressions. She can never disguise sadness at the loss of a loved one.

Then Rose’s mother does what all versions of Roxy are predisposed to do: hold an elaborate overdramatic funeral to exert her grief. Even as a young child, I’d bet Rose obsessively psychoanalyzed her “spiteful” and “ironic” mother. She probably spent the whole funeral wrapped up in intense maternal psychoanalysis rather than mourning their beloved cat.


IT’S JASPERS. HE’S ALIVE. 

Well ok, he’s still dead. But his body is intact. Turns out it wasn’t some kind of DISINTEGRATIFICATOR like you thought. 

It’s more like… 

AN ESCAPILIZER.

The flash ends with an image showing Jaspers’ body is intact, accompanied by some amusing narration quoted above. As before, Rose lets her sugary inner self leak out a bit before remembering the cat is still dead and going back to her usual philosophizing.


And with ten seconds to spare, Rose appearifies Jaspers’ body and leaves the lab. The story’s impromptu coinings of complicated Sburb-style words always make me smile.


As Jade goes outside to find her elusive dog, we get a small flash of the same electrical energy that blew up PM’s exile station. Together with the silhouette of Becquerel’s face, all I can say is that’s some damn cool foreshadowing.


John arrives in his dad’s room and it’s not at all what he expected it to be. It’s a room full of ties, pipes, and.. business documents?

I still love that this flash’s music is reprised in a much more horrifying context about halfway through [S] Caliborn: Enter.


Suffice to say, John doesn’t have an easy time processing this. He promptly has a mental breakdown in a flash with dramatic music, as if this was some kind of terrifying revelation that uproots everything John thought he knew and now he can never see the world the same way ever again.


Except this actually is a terrifying revelation that uproots everything John thought he knew and now he can never see the world the same way ever again.

Look at poor John. He’s trying to understand his father to the best of his 13-year-old ability.


So all those years, while you believed he was out busking up the corners with hilarious antics, he was working as an ordinary business man all along. He was just a man trying to make a good honest living for his son. Maybe he was too embarrassed to tell you the truth? Or maybe it was just that you’d never bothered to ask? 

You guess you always just assumed…

A natural part of John being “homestuck” is that he’s stuck in childish assumptions on what his father does for a living. If you’re a little kid, maybe it’s understandable if to some degree you genuinely think your dad is secretly a hilarious clown, but by the time you turn thirteen you should really know the truth or at least infer it from context.


All that said, just because Dad Egbert isn’t quite the clown lunatic John thought he was doesn’t mean he isn’t an absolute badass. This transition from son to father is done so well.

The next page is where we get to know Jack Noir, which makes for a good stopping point. See you next time as Rose puts her psychoanalysis skills to the best use imaginable.

Next => Part 11: Magical Dreams and Retroactive Clowns

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 6 Rewritten: Imp Madness and Can Openers

Introduction / Schedule <- please read!

Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 >


Act 2, Part 3 of 5

Pages 429-561 (MSPA: 2329-2461)

Link to old version / Link to new version

Again, I don’t have any good ideas for a new post title so I’m using the old one.

I considered “The Can Opener Dilemma” but then I realized that’s just a discount version of the old title.



My week without writing Homestuck posts was pretty nice, now back to business. I worked on some cool projects, but not the ones I originally intended to work on. And read some books. And also wrote this post over the course of one weekend.


Oh God dammit, that’s just what you need. More baked goods.
“thats classic john though he doesnt get pissed about anything except for the absolute dumbest shit” —Dave Strider


Where we left off, John was punched cold in the face by the revelation that he is not going to save the world. This massive twist caused John to go full circle, all the way back to freaking out just because he’s a little overexposed to baked goods. Whenever John has a mental breakdown or is upset by something, he finds something mundane and takes out all his anger on it.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate what Rose is sitting on.

Let’s also take a moment to appreciate Rose in general.


Perhaps you will take this spare moment to contemplate the Nannasprite’s strange tale. 

Yeah, still have no idea how Rose heard every word of Nannasprite’s story just like John did. I guess it’s not an important detail; sprites do whatever the story wants them to.

It may also behoove you to record your thoughts on these developments in your GameFaqs walkthrough/journal. It can be hard finding time to update it. In fact, you’re not even sure where you found the time to write what’s already there!

I think it makes perfect sense in Homestuck’s world that Rose can write massive walls of text no matter what constraints she’s facing. By questioning Rose’s ability to write this much, this passage is breaking some form of the fourth wall. If I had to choose one form of fourth wall it’s breaking, it would be the second fourth wall. This system of various fourth walls isn’t actually that complicated; the only important parts are the first fourth wall (the media vs. the audience) and the second fourth wall (the kids as playable characters vs. the kids as regular people).

For more rambles: starting in Act 3, I will discuss how villains in Homestuck connect to and break the first fourth wall based on a snippet of Hussie’s book commentary. As for the second fourth wall, Rose’s character is all about screwing with that wall. Now the third fourth wall (the wall between paradox space and Hussiespace), Jade is the only character other than Hussie’s self-insert that’s connected to it at all.

… What’s that look on your face? Are you telling me there’s another character with mind control powers who also messes with multiple fourth walls? One that has a contentious relationship with Hussie’s self-insert (and pretty much everyone for that matter)? Haha, you. Let’s talk about her another time, OK? I’d rather focus on important characters.

I suspect stuffing your face with a pillow wasn’t really “Rose’s” thing just yet.


I’m reading the book commentary along with this and OH MY GOD HUSSIE DID YOU JUST READ MY MIND OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD

Notice how the game engine is flexible enough to switch between speaking in first person and second person voice. It will refer to the character as “you” most of the time, but will refer to him as “John” when the guy who is typing (WV) insists on addressing John directly. At that point, the “you” becomes the one who is typing, and John is just John. This metalogic is perforating one of the walls, but it’s hard to say which one. It is perhaps a wall that is shaped like a fractal, existing somewhere between the 3rd and the 4th.

I AM HAPPY I CAN DECIPHER PRETTY MUCH ALL OF HUSSIE’S MOTIVES NOW, I HAVE MASTERED HOMESTUCK, NOW GIVE ME THE EPILOGUE ALREADY I DESERVE IT, I PROMISE I WON’T LEAK IT TO ANYONE ELSE

AAAAAAAAAAAAA YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES

HUSSIE IF YOU’RE READING THIS CAN YOU MAKE JOHN AND ROXY TALK AGAIN, OR SOMETHING, SURELY YOU’RE READING MY POSTS RIGHT NOW RIGHT?


Oh hey it’s John flipping the bird at WV who was ordering him to get cookies.

Hey WV, maybe it’s not the best idea to hassle someone in the middle of a mental breakdown?

to make Karkat a good character again

please Hussie? I know you have it in there somewhere…


This breakdown transitions us to a peek at WV, who slipped his finger and accidentally turned off caps lock. I have two things to talk about here.

First off, typos in Homestuck are a funny phenomenon. Typos as in characters making typos and acknowledging them, not the occasional actual errors in the comic. In real life, when talking to people online you’ll probably slip your fingers and accidentally misspell words quite a few times. But in Homestuck, typos are only done when used for a plot point (doesn’t have to be a big one, Jegus started out as a typo on Dave’s part) or when a character is drunk. In this case, WV’s accidental pressing of caps lock brings us to the second thing I want to talk about.


The second thing I want to talk about is shown above: WV pressing caps lock opens a capsule with food inside. This is a very minor pattern that the author seems to have had fun playing with: puns based on the names of keys on the keyboard. It’s a bit similar to the kids’ fetch modi based on data structures; one can see it as that pattern being subtly replicated in the exiles’ arc, but with something that the average person is more likely to understand.

If you’re intrigued by Rose’s character, maybe give cool and new web comic a read?

There’s really no character in Homestuck quite like Rose.


This next bit of Rose’s walkthrough is more of what we had before: a gigantic wall of words that’s completely useless to anyone left on Earth but a priceless resource for a group of alien kids.

It does have some interesting bits this time around. Rose deduces that her session of Sburb isn’t just two players, but rather a quartet of players. Clues in Nanna’s exposition, both in text and in visuals, add up to that conclusion. Patient readers willing to slog through Rose’s words get rewarded with some extra clarification. And that extra clarification invites a gigantic load of questions that these more patient readers would surely brim with ideas on.


This unfinished bit at the end is so funny to me. Not sure what to say about it, other than that I can’t imagine any other work of media where such a thing could exist. “But perhaps you don’t need to know any of this” is a brilliantly constructed phrase that I couldn’t imagine in anything other than a draft of Rose’s writing. On both sides of the scratch, I like to think that drafts of Complacency of the Learned are full of oddball phrases like this.


Through asking the “player” to leave her alone, Rose again breaks the second fourth wall. Wait, maybe it’s actually just the first fourth wall. Hussie you’re reading this, right? Be glad I supplied you with an easy-to-use wall nomenclature.

… Oh who am I kidding. I’m shouting into the void here, as usual.


Moving on, next we have the very first flashback scene in the comic. It takes place months in the past, on Rose’s birthday. An unwritten rule of Homestuck storytelling goes like this: if it’s not John’s birthday, then it better be someone else’s birthday or we’re not going to show it.


Something is different about Rose’s room, and not just the lighting. Where’s her mess of purple clothes and knitting supplies? 

Hussie said in his book commentary that Rose and Jade’s text colors look weird together, and I think I agree with him.

There’s just something off-putting about a wall of purple and green text compared to, say, red and blue, or blue and green.


As shown here, Rose got knitting supplies as a birthday present from John. Not enough people appreciate how much John has done to benefit his friends. As with John’s present to Dave, this present is touched upon here and then revisited when we read John’s letter to her.

On this page, we get the first of rather few Rose/Jade pesterlogs. Some people theorize that Rose and Jade don’t actually like each other all that much, or at least have the weakest friendship out of any pair of beta kids. Those theories make a lot of sense to me and thanks to them, I buy into this idea that Rose and Jade aren’t really friends. There’s a really good Reddit post theorizing about Rose and Jade’s relationship; read that and then go on. Most of my analysis of this pesterlog is inspired by that Reddit post.

GG: hi happy birthday rose!!! ❤ 
TT: Hello, and thanks. 
GG: did you get johns present yet? 
TT: I just opened it this very moment. What a stunning coincidence you would ask about it now. I am stunned. 
GG: yeah i know!! 
GG: what will you make with it? 
TT: And who said it was something from which something else could be made? 
GG: well john did tell me what it was duh….. 
TT: I suppose I’ll take a stab at learning the craft. 
TT: It’s the least I can do in response to the subtle dig concealed in his gesture. 
TT: He often tells me I “need a new hobby” when I make perfectly reasonable analytical remarks. 
GG: oh but rose i dont think he meant anything like that by it!! 
GG: you see not everybody always means the opposite of what they say the way you and dave always do 


It’s already clear that Rose doesn’t roll off Jade well. John is easygoing around Jade, while Dave opens up an inner flirty self with her around. It’s hard to call Rose and Jade “friends” though. They both seem to find each other a bit weird and annoying. The comic doesn’t even talk much about what they think of each other; it just roughly shows them not really getting along. How little their relationship is looked at says just as much as when their relationship is looked at.

TT: So, shall I expect a green package dropped to my house via airmail from whatever screwball cranny of the globe you’re tucked into? 
GG: err……. 
GG: no 😦 
GG: sorry but you are sort of hard shop for <_< 


Jade mostly acts the same to Rose as she does to John and Dave, but this line that Rose is “hard [to] shop for” shows that she doesn’t know Rose as well as she does the other two. Just a tiny hint at this lack of friendship from Jade’s perspective.

GG: besides i have something for you today that i think you will like better than some thing in a box! 
TT: Oh? 
GG: it is a tip!!!! 
TT: This is already intriguing enough to compensate for the grave scarcity of lavish gifts parachuting from the sky. Please go on. 
GG: did you have a pet a long time ago that died? 
TT: Yes. 
GG: ok well how did you feel about your cat, did you love him a lot? 
TT: “ok well”, I didn’t mention it was a cat, or that it was a male. Let’s pretend I’m surprised and you’re embarrassed and move on. 


Rose would never mockingly say “ok well” to John or Dave. Also, she seems to be long over playing along with Jade’s confusing nonsense. At this point, she sees Jade as just a confusing kid who tells her confusing things.

“ok well”, in all fairness this scene is a flashback, before Rose became a passionate knitter. One could speculate that Rose and Jade’s friendship improved past this point and this flashback scene is just back before they could be called “friends”. But their further conversations are just as cold as this one. If I notice any differences in Rose and Jade’s later conversations, I’ll be sure to compare them against this one.

TT: To answer your question, I would describe my feelings toward the animal as lukewarm. 
GG: ummmmm ok…. 
GG: thats fine!!! 
GG: it doesnt really matter i think, just….. 


Rose gives a characteristically cold response to Jade’s question and she is taken aback, stuttering for a moment before her next point. That’s another thing Rose is much less likely to do around John or Dave. She’s formed a deeper friendship with those two beyond her cold exterior, but not with Jade. It’s very unusual for Jade to be caught off guard like this when giving her friends bits of advice.

With this Rose/Jade relationship analysis mostly done, I can now analyze the wham line that immediately follows:

GG: what if someone told you you could play a game that would bring him back to life? 

This line alone carries a great deal of importance to the story. It is our very first indication that Jade isn’t just some goofy kid that knows the future: she is behind much more than we had realized. I’ve said plenty in prior posts that a common theme of the early acts is that the kids are all stuck in their little bubbles rather than the outside world. It only makes sense that Jade, the oddball among their group of friends, is behind how they started this whole adventure; their story confines everything to those four whenever possible. I’ll revisit this thought when we learn though a letter from John that Jade is the one who got their group of friends together.

TT: If someone told me that, I would regard the remark with a great deal of skepticism. 
TT: If that someone was you, on the other hand, then I would have to ask preemptively: 
TT: Is that someone you? 
GG: yes that someone is me!!!!!!!! 
GG: i just thought you might find it interesting 
TT: So what is this game? 
GG: oh i dont know 
GG: im just saying is all 
GG: i think youll hear about it later and maybe you can talk to john and dave about it 
GG: they are way more into all that stuff than i am!!!! 
TT: I’ll see what the word on the street is about it. In due time. 


This conversation shows an early hint at how predestination tends to work in Homestuck. When something is predestined, the story’s forces nudge things in the right direction; just barely enough to fulfill what’s supposed to happen. The subtlety of predestination’s forces helps make the story more engaging and complex, even if it might make more sense for predestination to be straightforward.

TT: For now I should probably order a copy of Knitting for Assholes. It would be a shame if I ran late with John’s present. 

This last line is one last indication that Rose and Jade don’t mesh well. Dave would snark about how horrible the “for Assholes” books are, while John would chat about his programming books in that series. Jade just doesn’t have anything she can add to that.

It’s also an indication that whatever Rose’s present to John is, it involves some form of knitting.

Only in Homestuck could there be a logical reason Snoop Dogg lyrics would be attributed to English romantic poet John Keats.


After this flashback we switch back to Dave, and his “stepping outside with vivid poetry and a misattributed quote” flash is really worth analyzing. His location is purportedly Houston, Texas but only marginally resembles what it looks like in real life. The title of Homestuck is more obvious than ever here: as far as Dave’s concerned, he doesn’t live in an awesome, bustling city, just a sea of generic apartments that look exactly like his.

This discussion reminds me of Sollux’s home, which is a troll replication of Dave’s complete with a city of identical buildings. Maybe Sollux’s hometown is an accurate representation of how Dave perceives the city of Houston? Or maybe it’s actually a colorful city and Sollux just can’t see it that way? Hiveswap definitely seems to give us a more colorful representation of Alternia than the comic proper does.


Next we see this orange swirly arc symbol, reflected in Dave’s shades. Unlike John and Rose’s meteor pictures, this is an arc symbol that expands way beyond the early acts; it’s mirrored in the trolls’ and cherubs’ storylines.

The opposite of irony, summarized in one picture.


What’s the first thing we see when Dave enters his living room? It’s uh…

What the hell is that?


Oh, haha, that’s right! It’s just a cute and silly little Mr. T puppet! It’s even handcuffed to an equally cute and silly Chuck Norris puppet!!!

The escalation in weirdness is obvious once again. John entering his living room was simple, Rose entering her living room was more unusual with a sudden appearance of a giant wizard statue, and Dave’s living room throws away everything we thought we knew by with whatever the hell these puppets are supposed to be. They’re ten levels of irony or something? Dave’s bro definitely doesn’t have any sort of strange problem or fetish.

Keep in mind that Bro Strider really is obsessed with being ironic, as Dirk’s character indicates. Just not quite in the way Dave thinks. And his puppets are completely unironic.


As Dave explores further, we see a mess of video game controllers, wires, Game Bro magazines, and some nude puppets. The way the guardians’ collections are distributed get more and more extreme for each of the beta kids. Puppets are littered all around this guy’s house for some reason.

Note the wizard puppet on the top right.

Were Roxy and Dirk longtime friends in this universe?


The video game pause screen on Dave’s TV can be seen as a callback to the Hi-C commercial that played on John’s TV. Again, the TV shows something more eccentric and over the top this time around.


Lil’ Cal suddenly appears! Dave is caught off guard but immediately convinces himself everything’s cool. His guardian’s entrance is yet another thing done in the strangest way that isn’t an outright pattern breaker.

Most of the video games I played as a kid were just as garbage as this.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Who needs Mario and Zelda???


Every so often, the story will take a moment to parody video games through in-story video games (Sburb doesn’t count), not the comic’s usual interface. And those scenes are quite the treasure. It’s so funny seeing Hussie show his perception of what old mediocre video games are like, just like with old mediocre movies. I connect to being inundated in old mediocre video games on a very personal level. Well, old mediocre video games and Sonic 2.


Dave takes a moment to give Cal a fistbump, and this panel somehow looks a bit endearing. Out of context it could be seen as him genuinely looking up to these wacky puppets.


Dave logs onto Bro’s computer, entering the password “lilcal”.

On the desktop is a hodgepodge of unnamed folders to store all the stuff he’s working on. No one can decipher his organization system but him. 

I think these folders might be a metaphor for how Dave perceives Bro vs. how he actually is. Dave thinks his guardian is ironic again and deliberately overcomplicates things, but my guess is that all these unnamed folders show that Bro is buried deep within his weird computer projects and doesn’t take care to organize things like a normal person. He can remember where everything is on his computer because he’s just that obsessive with maintaining his projects.

I miss the old Internet.

Well, who doesn’t?


The Complete Bullshit application is certainly a product of its time. Everything here screams 2009 Internet. Today everything’s so much more confined to chat clients and social media sites.

Most of the websites in this window are about puppets and video games. The odd one out here is Skaianet’s website. It’s an early hint for attentive readers that the guardians know more than they let on and were secretly involved with Sburb, which is expanded on when Rose explores the Skaianet lab.


Interestingly, some of the Complete Bullshit tabs relate to SBaHJ and Dave’s other work, as shown here. It’s stated that Dave and Bro keeps tabs on each other’s creative work; Bro might even show a bit of fondness for Dave’s work. If the comic went just a tad different, more positive aspects of Dave and Bro’s relationship could have been explored and reflected on. There’s just a few hints that adult Dirk might even be proud of his son/brother, shown in obtuse ways. But rather than expanding on this idea directly, any hints of proudness are taken away from adult Dirk and moved into teenage Dirk. And this method of transferring characters actually works well and makes for good scenes, even if it neglects hints of positivity on Dave’s side of things.

The chatbots mirror the businessmen in Dad Egbert’s Serious Business app.

It’s only natural that in Dave’s case, they aren’t real people.


When we check out one of Bro’s websites, it’s clear that he puts unfathomable amounts of work into making money from these puppets. He programs chatbots and puts together elaborate videos, all to get people mysteriously transfixed on puppet ass. Business as usual in the Homestuck world, yeah it makes perfect sense.

The bucket on top of the door is the most efficient way possible to establish what point in time we’re at.


Dave gets creeped out a bit by these puppets, so he pesters John to ease his nerves, saying that puppets are cool and awesome as usual. Poor John is on the receiving end of Dave’s hidden nervous breakdown, all just because Dave loves him. Or he would be if he wasn’t totally distracted by a bucket.


Dave and Rose’s conversation about puppets doesn’t read much differently from Dave’s perspective. It’s a foregone conclusion that Dave is in denial about the puppets, and now we see firsthand that Dave will freely disclose the truth to Rose but not to John.

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


Oh yeah, this passage still exists. It’s now more clear than ever that Rose would have loved to be raised by this weirdo just as much as Dave would like to have a mother. The book commentary even remarks as such:

Rose likes bro’s puppet porn sites. It’s almost like they would have similar styles and would get along pretty well if bro was her age. Oh well, that’s the end of that fruitless hypothetical reverie.

The Acts 1-3 books were made before Homestuck ended, and as such a few of Hussie’s plans that didn’t come to be leak out a bit. It’s so obvious that he intended Rose and Dirk to have a conversation but sort of canned it near the end, after the retcon happened and after he decided not to have any more dialogue after Collide.

… Please tell me Hussie still remembers how to write these characters. Not like how painfully out-of-character Karkat was near the end. I need my Rose/Dirk conversation already!!!

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 


This bit of information about Dave’s dreams could have been easily written as narration rather than a pesterlog. It’s a surprisingly good choice to put it in a pesterlog, emphasizing that he’s leaking things to Rose that we aren’t supposed to know yet. But now we know and there’s no going back.

“Seconds in the future, but not many…” establishes that Dave is almost caught up with the present.


Rose deploys the Punch Designix and I’m still burnt out on discussing Sburb mechanics. I’ve already gone over the important stuff anyway.

The imp pogo ride is another one of those early attempts at interactive pages that doesn’t accomplish much.

As before, it’s a necessary part of Hussie finding a form of interactive pages that works with the story.


After a short weird mini-game where we play as an imp on John’s pogo ride, Rose drops the piano and kills the imp. I’ve always found the piano’s destruction to be a deeply upsetting scene, especially with John’s reaction.

TT: You’ll need to pick up the spoils in person. I can’t interact with the grist. 
EB: so… 
EB: that means i have to go out the back door? 
TT: Yes. Is there a problem? 
EB: well it may sound dumb, but i was hoping to avoid nanna and her spooky ghost cookies. 
TT: You’re right, that does sound dumb. 


Towards the end of Act 1, Rose tries to decipher John’s motives when he snuck around and carelessly messed with his dad’s possessions, leading to some very strange pesterlogs. This idea returns here, but this time John too admits it sounds dumb to sneak around to avoid baked goods. Or maybe he only knows Rose thinks it’s dumb. Unlike Jade, John has an unbreakably strong bond with Rose.


Since Rose isn’t a force of predestination, she understands and caters to John’s strange issues. This leads to creative uses of Sburb mechanics which I always love.

EB: well, what are you building? 
TT: Stairs. 
TT: They are fairly expensive actually. 
EB: oh man… 
EB: i could have warned you about stairs, rose! 


Here it is, ladies and gentlemen. The first ever SBaHJ reference used in-comic. I discussed the role of SBaHJ in the story last post, but I think I have some new insight to share. John is the obvious uniting force of the kids through seeing the best in everyone despite their weirdnesses, while Dave is another strong uniting force because all three enjoy making memes out of his comics. John and Dave both know how to get along with everyone. I think it makes sense that Rose and Jade, the only pair of characters that doesn’t involve the “uniting force” characters, don’t have anything resembling a strong relationship.

TT: Consider me fully briefed on the matter of stairs. 
TT: Now if you don’t mind, it’s hard enough to concentrate on this without immersing ourselves in Strider’s non sequitur. 
EB: did you know he thinks puppets are cool? 
TT: Does he? 
EB: he’s so dumb!! 


John is actually aware Dave is in denial. He just doesn’t know that he’s aware. Just one of many cases where John doesn’t fully know something about himself.


John looks under his sink, which hasn’t been done before. It’s probably a bit unexpected that under there are no hilarious clowns, just a bunch of shaving cream. I’m not sure to what degree this is an intentional hint at his dad’s true nature; shaving cream is a running gag in the comic after all. This page definitely establishes the shaving cream gag and may or may not establish his father’s hidden depths.

I already explained last post that sprite powers are whatever the story wants. No need to repeat that.


John’s living room is now a giant mess of imps. Not much to say about this and probably most of the fighting scenes, other than that I find the crazy art with imps messing around to be very fun and charming.


John fighting the imps in his room is super fun and goofy. Maybe I’ll have more to say about it as he alchemizes cooler weapons.



> well done, john. polite congratulations.

For some reason you feel a sense of positive reinforcement. Wherever that feeling is coming from, it sure is a welcome change from your erratic moods earlier.

Through this time, WV has given John polite lowercase commands thanks to his book of human etiquette. These commands are phrased strangely, with terms like “sir boy”. But the etiquette WV learned worked perfectly! Hussie speculates in his book commentary that the etiquette book was written by a carapacian, which makes sense because this method of politeness is mechanical but does exactly what it needs to.

More creative use of game mechanics. Lifting the safe up his high really catches you by surprise.



In a small funny moment, WV’s commands lead John to wonder where he can find a can opener. Exile commands messing with people’s heads is so much fun, I wish it was done more often. It culminates in the scene with AR commanding Dave, which is one of the most side-splitting parts of the entire comic.


When we peek into WV’s book on politeness, I can see why Hussie imagined a carapacian wrote it. It’s the most obtuse and technical thing we’ve seen yet.


Rose’s walkthrough continues with a series of screencaps. A few of them have interesting bits:


This screencap is useful to those that may not have explored every nook and cranny of the walkaround game. It answers the question of how John still has electricity in a way slightly more explicit than before. It’s interesting that the author felt the need to clarify how John’s house is still powered.

Most of the other screencaps are recapping what we saw from John’s perspective, but narrated in Rose’s style. This one above is odd though. It teases the mystery of John’s father and touches on narrative weirdness, where Rose is only allowed to see what John has seen. Rose is crazy quick to catch that their game is playing off of narrative tropes and what’s logical in a story. And boy does she screw with everything about that idea.


At this point the pattern’s obvious: Rose drops John’s possessions around the house to kill imps. These two panels take advantage of how obvious it is: we don’t need to see the Sburb cursor drop the shelf of clowns, and as an added bonus, this lack of cursor conveys that John is distracted by can opener antics.

The velvet pillow is under Rose’s chin now.

How endearing.


Dave isn’t quite caught up with the present yet. We’re at another pesterlog which makes no sense out of context. Hilarious from one side, horrifying from the other. It makes sense that it’s hilarious the first time around because it’s the second pesterlog lifted from Hussie’s real-life conversations.

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 


This is gold. I have no idea how Hussie could have possibly had the idea to take some real conversation where he wrote down lengthy metaphors about puppet ass and then use his comic to make that conversation literal. It’s one of the most genius things he’s ever done.

TG: im whirling in the terrible cyclone at the epicenter of my own personal holocaust of twitching foam noses 
TG: its like a fucking apocalypse of perky proboscis here 
TG: like 
TG: the proboscalypse i guess 
TT: Are you going to start rapping about this? 
TG: what no 
TG: no listen 
TT: Prong of flesh bereft of home 
TT: Found solace ‘twixt a cleft of foam. 
TG: no oh jesus 
TT: Of apocalypse your thoughts eclipse 
TT: A painted pair of parted lips 
TT: That dare through kiss to stir the air 
TT: That teases tufts of orange hair. 
TT: And though faces flush in lovers’ fits, 
TT: Hands snug in plush as gloves befit. 


The humor is cranked up even more when Rose takes the role of the rapper. How could I have possibly forgotten that this is one of the best pesterlogs in all of Homestuck? It’s a great feeling when a character grows on you when rereading something, as is going on for me with Rose.

TG: ok dickinson if you can shut your perfumey trap for a half second 
TG: this is serious 
TG: i am just saying 
TG: if i see one more soft bulbous bottom being like 
TG: kind of jutting out and impudent or whatever 
TG: im gonna fly off the handle 
TG: im gonna do some sort of acrobatic fucking PIROUETTE off the handle and win like a medal or some shit 
TT: Then let’s hope there will be a squishy derriere somewhere below the handle to break your fall. 


And here’s the birth of the “acrobatic fucking pirouette” running gag. Every use of this gag from here on out isn’t there just for fun; it’s to deliberately call back to this moment and toy with it. Every time this moment is toyed with is worthy of its own merit.

Another case where Homestuck is a product of its time.

I’m glad warped text captchas aren’t much of a thing anymore. Though I fucking hate “select all images that contain ___” with a passion.


Here’s where we revisit captchalogue cards, specifically the “captcha” part. Many readers probably wonder why it’s called “captchalogue” at first and forget about it, but are then surprised to find the real reason for that word. I’m not surprised that according to the book commentary, Hussie planned the captcha feature from the start.


John may be airheaded sometimes, but he’s far from stupid. He quickly learns that this captcha mechanic is useful. I might even say he’s pretty good with computers but a little misguided in learning to code. Now when is he going to talk about programming with Roxy like Dave said he would? Come on Hussie, fulfilling these promises isn’t that hard.


Here’s a bit of book commentary I have something interesting to say about:

And now his Cirque du Soleil poster got creamed by a bathtub? That’s it, he’s grounded for life.

The first few Homestuck books were originally released around 2013, some point in early to mid Act 6. Hussie saying that John would be grounded for life reminds me of how Jane is grounded after messing with her house. I’ve already talked a lot about how Act 6 Act 1 is something of a modernized version of Act 1; considering Hussie’s use of the phrase “grounded for life”, I really think he modernized Act 1 largely on an unconscious level.

TG: PUPPETS 
TG: AWESOME 
TG: THATS REALLY ALL THERE IS TO SAY ON THE MATTER 
— turntechGodhead [TG] changed his mood to RANCOROUS — 

TT: John, I’m about to throw a bath tub through your wall. 
TT: Watch out. 


Both Dave and Rose go a bit off the rails if they go long enough without talking to John.


This image above is interesting. It shows the hole in Dad’s room above the hole in John’s study. The gray colored area probably looks like simple shading at a glance, but if you look closely having reread the comic you can tell that the gray color hints more at what’s really inside that room. John and Rose discuss that mysterious room accordingly, with John unaware of what he’s in for.


It’s another copy of COLONEL SASSACRE’S DAUNTING TEXT OF MAGICAL FRIVOLITY AND PRACTICAL JAPERY. This one looks really old, perhaps an original printing. Could it be the same one involved with your grandmother’s unfortunate accident on that fateful day? DAD would never speak a word about it, but maybe NANNA wouldn’t be so tight-lipped?

You give it a cursory perusal. It appears to be similar to your reprinting, listing all the japes and chicanery you have come to know and love. You captchalogue it, thinking you may give it a closer look later. 

As with Bro’s Skaianet website, we get another hint that the guardians know more than they let on. We don’t know the story behind this book yet, but the narration slightly hints that some time travel is involved. A very subtle hint when reading for the first time; a slightly clearer hint when rereading.

On the other side of the scratch, Jane’s copy of Sassacre’s is abridged and clearly different from the copy John was born with. Helps her avoid coming to any conclusion that they are the same book or that any broader time travel is involved.

Can we stop and appreciate that in the Homestuck universe, giant books about shaving are a normal thing that exists?


The Fatherly Gent’s Shaving Almanac is locked inside that safe, which is all that’s needed to establish that John was meant to open this safe as a celebration of adulthood. Just because Mr. Egbert planned things out in advance doesn’t mean he knew anything close to the full picture.


It seems he has been collecting scraps from the news over the years. These articles go back decades.

Now THIS is a strong hint that Dad Egbert knows more than he lets on. If you’re rereading, you’ll quickly catch a pattern that the guardians all know bits and pieces of stuff about the game.

The most interesting part of these papers is the date on top: April 13, 199X. The date is enough to hint that these meteors relate to the game’s broader story, but not enough for us to know for a fact the story of John’s birth and Nanna’s death. One could say the same about the “[Betty] Crocker Facility Leveled” headline; a small hint that Crocker has broader relevance to the story beyond being a company John hates. All this foreshadows stuff the author had surely planned by this point. I’d guess that this was also around the time he planned out the kids’ family tree.


The note on the side of the wall tells us once again that John’s father knew secrets related to the story behind Sburb, but not everything about its true purpose. He probably read his mother’s note in the book and concluded from it that his son was meant to read it the moment he hit adulthood. As such, he added in newspapers explaining the story behind Nanna’s death, and also a shaving almanac. Dad’s idea that John would grow up to be strong enough to lift a heavy safe doesn’t make any sense until we see him easily lift a heavy safe. After that point, if you think back to John’s safe it’s clearer than ever that Dad Egbert had the strange idea that his son would grow up to be just like him.

Now the blank captchalogue card on the floor, I don’t think has much of a deep story behind it. If anything, I’d imagine it returns to the comic’s roots in riffing off of adventure games, hiding free blank cards in unexpected places with no explanation.

After the copy of Sassacre’s slays the imp, we get more RPG exaggerations in a series of three entities gaining levels: Colonel Sassacre levels up, the bathtub levels up, and the slain safe is carried to Vaulthalla. These are all very silly and I can tell Hussie had fun coming up with rung names. If you’ve ever wasted hours on TV Tropes, you’d know that the bit with Vaulthalla would qualify as a “big-lipped alligator moment”. But as the book commentary suggests, Vaulthalla doesn’t completely go to waste; this art style is quite clearly a proto-Alternia, which may or may not have been on a conscious level. 


Next a brand new teaser emerges: a creature much bigger and more fearsome than imps. I’m going to stop here.

See you next time as an obscenely long, coarse Kermit cock is dragged across Dave’s anguished face.

Next => Part 7: What Sword?

Cookie Fonster Critiques Homestuck Part 11: Magical Dreams and Clown Therapy

Introduction

< Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 >

Pages 952-1051 (MSPA: 2852-2951)

Act 3, Part 3 of 4

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

Who’s this guy?

At the curb of act 3’s halfway point, we meet the main villain of the first half of Homestuck. He looks like the Problem Sleuth extra Spades Slick, but he is actually Derse’s archagent, Jack Noir. He has great trouble dealing with John’s extra-strong father, and his fourth wall was stolen some time ago. We learn parts of what’s been going on at the kingdom: after Mr. Egbert was kidnapped, the queen made everyone dress like clowns, and Jack Noir can’t stand that. Is there any specific reason for him hating clowns like there is for all Dersites having an intense aversion to frogs? It really doesn’t look like it, though it does become extremely relevant to the plot when Jack flips out and fucks shit up. Maybe it’s like John’s hatred of Betty Crocker—hating it for no good reason. A lot of stuff in real life looks to me like hating stuff for no good reason—I often hear people talking about how much they hate things I know about but don’t really have an opinion about.

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