Aug 31, 2013

Homestuck: 8/20/13 – 8/27/13

By Ian Cory

Despite Caliborn’s claims to the contrary, the Act divisions in Homestuck are far from arbitrary. Even as the structure of the story has become increasingly fragmented, each Act, or subact, or intermission, or subsubact, represents an insular and self-contained arc, complete with its own conflicts and thematic concerns. This particular section, given the immensely clumsy name of ‘Act 6 Act 6 Intermission 1’ had the incredibly difficult task of re-establishing twelve main characters while also laying the groundwork for the story’s home stretch. With so many different threads to tie together it made sense that much of the Act was told through a series of “choose your character” screens, allowing the reader to bounce between multiple locations and plotlines quickly. These branching paths always worked in a circular fashion, bringing the reader right back to the same starting point. This circular progression is also visible in the larger framing device for the whole Act. We start with Roxy and are then taken on a tour through The Medium by a teleporting John Egbert before winding up back with Roxy again to close the act off.

By taking a short jump forward in time, this Act doesn’t concern itself so much with pushing the characters forward so much as revealing where the events of the last Act and Intermission have left them. Rose and Terezi, plagued by both hangovers and doubt, question their ability to help their equally isolated friends. Dave, stranded with the adorably clueless Mayor, is confronted by Jade, her recent turn to villain partially fuelled by resentment towards Davesprite, and is only able to access his heroic nature when pushed to the breaking point. Karkat and Kanaya rebel against their orders to complete the frog breeding process, but are quickly cowed by violence and indulgence to their addictions. Dirk, along with a host of Jack Noir variations, rushes to get back to the heart of The Medium, while his former boyfriend Jake is bullied to tears by ObeyJane. In the same prison that holds Jake, Roxy struggles to master her new powers by making a ton of pumpkins and cubes. John Egbert soars over all of this, guiding us while also being pursued by Jade and propelled forward nonlinearly through time and space. John’s powers remain the biggest mystery but are also the biggest indication of where Hussie is taking the comic. For the big picture, they show how it is possible to break free from the machinations of Lord English. On a smaller level it brought John to Roxy, and gave us one of the cutest scenes in all of Homestuck

I’m not really a shipper. Not out of a lack of interest in the romantic subplots and relationships in fiction but because I’m generally willing to go with whatever an author I respect deems correct for their characters. That said, if Hussie fucks this John and Roxy thing up, I am going to flip a shit. Most of the relationships in Homestuck have occurred off screen, leaving us only with the flirtatious beginnings and the occasionally lethal fallout. The closest thing we’ve seen to a relationship in action was John and Vriska’s ill-fated “D8” in the afterlife, which, by the way, one of my favorite parts* of the entire comic. Watching those two stumble through basic interaction while also slowly remembering their circumstances of their death, all while wandering through empty husks of their former homes is positively soul crushing. Because of this the unspoken tone of romance in Homestuck will always melancholic no matter how many epic volcano lit first kisses Hussie throws at us. I don’t want to watch John and Roxy fall apart. I don’t want to see their natural and boundless optimism crushed. Their persistent and nearly delusional belief in their friends is what made them leaders, and its what makes them perfect for each other.

*Although really, the entire Doc Scratch sequence to the end of Cascade is probably one of my favorite pieces of art ever. Perfect balance of groundbreaking medium screwing weirdness and effective character drama, all coming to a head with a HUGE plot centric climax.

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