[As always, Josh Sibley’s media preferences do not reflect those of the JKP! group at large or, indeed, most reasonable people. Gird your loins.]
We’ve talked about Homestuck a couple times on the podcast, much to the chagrin of all none of you who read it, and once it completes we’ll probably talk about it one more time. Oh, and then there’s the adventure game, which we’ll also talk about. Probably. Point is, I know a lot of you don’t read it, and I aim to do my best to rectify that, especially considering the story is on a multiple month-long break. It’s the perfect time to catch up. What follows is an episode guide of sorts, a stone skipping across the high points of this massive story.
Homestuck is one of those things that’s known far more because of its fans than its actual content. Much like Naruto before it, its fans are a massive tsunami, an imposing wall between you and the work itself. Should you even bother? I mean look at these guys.
The answer? Yes, yes you should. If you won’t take my word for it, then take Brandon’s. His taste is generally impeccable, and we have made him our leader in all things. Why not you?
Anyway, Homestuck is the most epic thing I’ve ever read, despite it starting off relatively slow and meandering. Remember those old movie ads where it tells you “you’ll laugh, you’ll cry” etc.? This did that to me for real. It’s one of the only times I can truly say “There’s nothing else remotely like it out there”. It’s a massive story that constantly evolves and never loses its way, all while keeping to running themes, and it has an incredible soundtrack besides. I promise you that if you manage to power through the early chapters and get to where the story starts to take off, you’ll be in for a totally unique treat. But… I mean… those fans.
Yes, the fans. They’re lunatics. Do you know what’s great though? Andrew Hussie (Homestuck’s author) knows they’re lunatics. He knows they’re your average teenage Deviantart bonkers fanpeople all hopped up on hormones. He knows that they’re crazy, he knows exactly what they want (because honestly, it’s not hard), and he goes out of his way to not give it to them. And they love him for it.
However, I understand that it’s not an easy leap to make. Even the recommendation of two handsome, dashing men is sometimes not enough. So without further adieu here’s the best moments in Homestuck to maybe make you go “huh, this story has THAT in it?”.
As a side note before we begin, obviously this article is basically one big, constant spoiler. If you have any inclination at all that you might actually dive in and read it all, skip this list and just do it.
The Wayward Vagabond Appears
The Wayward Vagabond is Brandon’s favorite character, and this is his moment where he shines. This is also the moment you get the first inkling that this story might have more going for it than some random kids fucking around with inventories in their rooms. In what will be a running theme, the story goes to seemingly a completely random and unrelated place, one that all makes sense later. Instead of explaining, Hussie gets right to the fun. And what fun is that you might ask? Witnessing WV’s rise from lowly desert wanderer to the undisputed, beloved mayor of Can Town, of course. In between, we see the various trials of our three main characters navigating their rooms, their parents, and the new game of SBURB.
Rose Enters the Medium
This is the first “action animation”, one of the major story milestones where a bunch happens over the course of a short flash animation, often to the accompaniment of a great song. It’s also the first appearance of “Hero Mode”, i.e. characters not being drawn in sprite form. This is the first tantalizing glimpse into how the stakes can be raised and capped with something that’s both a crescendo and a cliffhanger. We also get to see that playing this SBURB game might be a little more intense than just a way to fuck around with your friend’s bathrooms.
The Midnight Crew
This is the first intermission labeled as such, and yet another example of Hussie seemingly going wildly off the rails to waste our time, but actually introducing characters, places and concepts that will be important later on. Here, we get introduced properly to Jack Noir’s entire crew, their enemies The Felt, the mysterious woman named Snowman (yes, Snowman), and the green mansion full of clocks they live in. Can you name another thing you’ve read that can manage to play around with Donnie Darko-esque time travel conventions while simultaneously doing stupid gags? No, you can’t.
The Land of Wind and Shade
Hussie introduces a major plot point, the fact that each player that enters the Medium in Sburb gets their own quest-filled planet, with an entirely playable point and click mixed with beat-’em-up game. This isn’t the first interactive game we’ve seen so far in the story, but it is the first one with combat and an inventory. People recently donated about 2 million dollars to Hussie to make a Homestuck game, and my money is on it playing a whole hell of a lot like this page here.
Future Timeline Dave Whips Some Ass
While Homestuck is basically about a co-op mmo style game, there’s relatively little straight up action in it. This is one animation segment that is all action, and shows us just what a typical SBURB day might be like for our adventuring heroes, and also has a badass, Mega Man X style song behind it. This begins a mini storyline that introduces the concept of doomed alternate-timeline selves, which becomes increasingly relevant later on. This also begins the introduction of a great character, Dave’s guide Davesprite.
Jack Kills the Black Queen
This is the animation Brandon showed me that hooked me on the series. Fast paced, stylish, great music, and the introduction of not only the major threat of the first half of the series, but the concept that all the actions the kids take, even the ones with the best of intentions, can have severe consequences later on, and that SBURB is a game that’s anything but forgiving or fair. As with most of these animations, it makes no sense whatsoever as you’re watching it, but once you’re into the story, it will.
Wayward Vagabond’s origin
We get to see that even though the Mayor is kind of a goofy nutball, he wasn’t always thus. At one time, he was a simple farmer who got tired of the senseless war between Prospit and Derse, and succeeded in uniting the two people as one… until they were slaughtered to a man by a newly empowered Jack Noir. The person who would be the Mayor of Can Town went from folk hero to neurotic, war weary survivor in seconds flat. This is also one of the only times we get to see what the battle between the Prospitians and the Dersites that the main characters are supposed to participate in to claim their ultimate reward actually looks like. Turns out our heroes’ session is anything but typical.
John REALLY Likes Con Air
Brandon showed me this before anything else, and I knew that whatever it was, I had to read it. In addition to basically being the best thing on the internet, this kind of thing is what sets Homestuck apart from every other webcomic that tries to be an epic story out there: Hussie is never afraid to take the piss out of himself and his story at the drop of a hat and make it as stupid as possible. Forget all the kids in grey makeup and horns you see at cons, this is what Homestuck is.
Jade’s (First) death
Since the very first pages, John has been trying to get at the green box Jade mailed to him for his birthday. He finally catches up to it on the battlefield, moments after finding Jade’s dead dream body. Inside, there’s a letter from both a mysterious author (that we’ll meet far later) and Jade herself, talking about how she can’t wait to show John around Prospit, which has just been destroyed, killing her. This is the first time I can remember Homestuck managing to squeeze a tear out of me, amidst the action, drama, and stupidity.
We’ve seen glimpses of the trolls up until now, as they’ve harassed our heroes. This is the section where we finally find out what the deal is with all 12 of them, how they relate to each other and the story, and why they’re like they are. This is also where the horned teens at cons spawned from. Read it yourself and judge just how crazy they might or might not be. Oh, and don’t get too attached to anyone.
Vriska Pays for Being a Bitch All the Time
In the middle of Hivebent, we have a history lesson. We see just exactly how Terezi lost her sight, we see just how little Vriska understands the concept of friendship, and we see her pay for her revenge schemes repeatedly and never learn, destroying several lives in the process. Plus, we get a rare glimpse of SBURB action, this time from the Troll’s session. Seriously, Vriska just doesn’t get it.
Terezi Flirts With Dave
There’s a whole lot to like about Dave, but his moments flirting with Terezi over Pesterchum are some of the greatest interpersonal moments Homestuck has to offer. It happens on and off from this point on, and every time Terezi slaps two pairs of sunglasses and shirt logos over animated gifs of terrible late 80’s/early 90’s coolkids, it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.
One of the most popular and large Flash game sections of the entire story. Explore the troll’s meteor, be several different trolls and have them interact, pick up items that serve as a oblique sort of recap and a nonstop barrage of references, and explore their various rooms, all couched in Earthbound-style sprites mixed with very well animated and detailed portrait art during conversations. This flash cemented the troll’s place in the fandom, for better or worse.
Tavros Lets Vriska Bleed to Death
After we saw Vriska get the ever loving Jesus Christ beaten out of her by AradiaBot, we come back to the aftermath of that: Vriska’s slowly dying, and in order to become God Tier (a sort of resurrection and power boost) she needs to die in a specific place. Using her mental powers, she makes Tavros write out her messages to him in her own blue blood, telling Tavros where to take her, and then once there, begging him to kill her. Tavros chickens out, runs away crying, and Vriska slowly, painfully bleeds to death on her quest bed. We get to see a brief flash from Vriska that shows that on some level, she really does care for Tavros and believes in him, she just sucks at not being a bitch. Conversely, we get to see that despite everything he’s been through, Tavros is still a coward at heart. This colors an interaction these two will have later, making it have a little more depth.
Vriska Murders Tavros
Long after the last entry happens, Tavros finally decides to stand up for himself, as it’s apparent Vriska has gone out of control. Unfortunately, confidence or not, Tavros is still no match for Vriska, and he gets brutally murdered. Meanwhile, Jack Noir, now with omnipotent guardian powers, destroys the Troll’s version of Derse, but not before brutally murdering the two most pleasant, fan favorite troll’s dream selves with his own two hands. Not only does this Flash animation house one of my favorite songs of the series, it starts a string of unfortunate events happening to major characters. Hussie is definitely not afraid to take cast members out at the drop of a hat.
Eridan is Just the Biggest Douchebag
Eridan up until this point has had precious little screen time. What little time he’s had has been concerned with being as bitter and resentful as possible, combined with being intensely needy and whiny. Like most people who are self-important, when he feels everyone is turning against him, he lashes out violently. After he knocks out Sollux, Eridan turns his attention to the intensely cute and positive Feferi who’s been his only friend for years, murdering her. Then, for no reason, he obliterates Kanaya’s Matriorb, effectively dooming their entire species. This predictably infuriates Kanaya, who attacks him and is also killed. Eridan has a fairly big fan following, which blows my mind because he is just the biggest penis ever.
Eridan Doesn’t Get to Be a Big Douchebag For Long
Gamzee, thanks to Dave showing him an Insane Clown Posse video, goes into an unquenchable rage mode and murders Equius and Nepeta. He meets up with Vriska, fresh off of her murdering Tavros, and Eridan, fresh off of murdering Feferi and Kanaya for a 3X Combo Showdown. Out of nowhere, a decidedly not dead Kanaya shows up, crotch kicks Gamzee into the abyss, clocks Vriska right in the face, and chainsaws Eridan in half. Turns out Kanaya’s a Rainbow Drinker, the troll version of a vampire, so having a hole through her torso is a mild inconvenience. This is a pretty significant event because rare is the time that Hussie shows villains suffering basically any repercussions whatsoever for their transgressions, and one of only two times anything negative happens to Gamzee.
Terezi Kills Vriska
This animation has it all: A pivotal moment, a clever presentation, and a great song. It’s been revealed that Vriska has manipulated events in order to bring about the creation of Bec Noir, the nigh-omnipotent unholy fusion of Jack Noir and the Black Queen’s ring, infused with the power of Jade’s superdog Becquerel (among other things) and main villain of the first half of Homestuck. This was all done so that Vriska could be the one to challenge him and take him down, in a very Pymsian turn. Terezi knows that if Vriska leaves to battle Bec Noir, she will die and he’ll sniff out Vriska’s trail that leads right back to the meteor the surviving trolls currently occupy. Terezi can’t allow this to happen, so she makes a very hard decision. We don’t actually get to see it unfold however, because due to Terezi accidentally scratching Homestuck’s second disc, the comic gets increasingly glitchy to the point of freezing and being unplayable. This leads directly to…
The devil with the head of a Cueball, Doc Scratch is the only one who can repair our scratched Homestuck disc. While we wait, he lets us flip through his scrapbook, following several story threads to completion via various photos. It’s elegant nonlinear storytelling that embraces the internet’s interactivity, and the entire thing is couched in a site re-skin befitting the Doc. As an added bonus, the time Spades Slick visited Doc Scratch (and how that all turned out) is told in silent, subtle fashion at the top of the page in the banner ad space. Doc also fills us in on the Troll’s ancestors, Aradia’s ancestor find out that Lord English is always already here, and the whole thing ends when Hussie himself retrieves disc 2 from the Doc in the silliest way possible.
John and Vriska Date… Sort Of
This happens entirely in the scrapbook section mentioned above, but it deserves its own spot. John and Vriska had been flirting heavily and growing closer over the course of the adventure, and had planned to have fun together when they finally met. Before that could happen however, Vriska’s hubris got the better of her and she had to be put down by Terezi. John wouldn’t find out about it until much later, but Vriska’s ghost ended up meeting with the ghost of a dead John from an alternate timeline in a dream bubble (just go with it). Stripped of all the drama and plans of her living existence, Vriska ends up just being a weird girl looking to connect with an awkward guy. We get to see the softer side of Vriska now that it’s too late for her, and it ends up being really touching and bittersweet.
This is it. The epic climax of the story thus far, the crescendo of all threads coming together. Cascade is a fifteen minute long animation filled with several songs, more action than you can shake a puppet at, and a new beginning. Jade is killed (again) and reborn, Bec Noir grievously injures the Mayor and destroys our entire universe with the Red Miles, The Peregrine Mendicant ascends to being Bec Noir’s equal opposite via the White Queen’s ring, Dave and Rose unwittingly create the Green Sun and ascend to God Tier in the process, John initiates the Scratch, resetting our entire universe, and Jade uses her newfound godlike-powers to transport John and herself (and everyone’s personal planet and the battlefield) into the newly created universe. It’s quite the spectacle.
A New Universe
Our universe is reset, and Homestuck begins anew, with all the hope and promise that brings. We see the new world, with things that are the same and things that are different, all through the eyes of our new main character, the adorable Jane. This is a mindblowing moment, as you see that an already long, epic story has just been thrown wide open, and anything is possible.
Karkat and the Bucket
After the events of the Scratch, John and Jade are stuck on a three year journey from one reality to another. John has a very short window to toss a message through Jade’s portal to Rose, Dave, and the surviving trolls on their meteor home. He does so on the back of an Armageddon poster stuffed into a bucket, which flies through the portal and hits Karkat square in the face. Due to how troll reproduction works, buckets are considered taboo, so this is tantamount to getting hit with a dildo in the kisser that has a message written on it that appeared out of thin air from a portal. A high strung, easily irritated guy like Karkat does not take this well.
Jane Fucks Up Her Chances With Jake
This event and the last one are quite a ways apart, but that doesn’t mean that nothing good happened. Four new kids are introduced, and there’s a whole lot of great dialogue, especially with Roxy. In the original session, the bulk of the beginning was messing around with inventories and stalling nonsense. This time around, it’s far more character driven. All of that partially crescendos here! All the pre-Sburb post-Scratch interpersonal shenanigans comes to a head with this bit between the famously dense Jake and the nervous Jane. Jake’s been clued in that Jane might like him, and so makes the first move. Jane, awkward beyond all belief, says no and tries to keep it together while mentally berating herself. Jane’s reaction is priceless. We’ve all been there, lady.
Jane Enters the Medium
Another action montage that’s the bookend to Rose entering the Medium way back when. We also get to see the arrival of the Royal Condensce, AKA the Batterwitch. I mainly included this because it has probably my favorite song in the entire series, and were it not cut off halfway through, you’d see that it musically bookends with its companion piece, Sburban Jungle. It’s impossible to listen to this song (Another Jungle) without imagining an 80’s montage involving kids messing around with wires and circuits and computers, but in an epic way. Like if there was a sequel to Weird Science where they had to recreate their hot girl genie to SAVE THE WORLD. What was I talking about?
In a display of beautiful pacing, Hussie smashes the funniest moment in the entire series directly after a huge slab of exposition. Karkat, jealous of Dave’s affections over Terezi, confronts Dave about coordinating Terezi’s time between the two of them, since he assumes Dave is in a matespritship (romantic relationship) with Terezi, and he wants to be her kismesis (antagonistic lover). He tries to explain to Dave that this is very normal, but Dave won’t hear a word of it. Karkat then tries to draw a diagram to explain how it would work schedule-ways, and Dave struggles with him and forces him to draw crude dicks instead. Even if you read no other entry here, make sure you read this one, because it is absolutely hysterical.
The Land of Crypts and Helium
Much like John, Jane enters her planet and is greeted with a game. This one is very Myst-like, trial and error puzzle solving set to beautiful, melancholy music. There’s even conversations spread throughout. Hopefully there are lots of moments like this in the Homestuck game. Man, what’s the deal with Lil’ Seb’s legs?
Dirk’s Tales of the End of the World
Turns out Dirk and Roxy are from the future, and they’re the only humans left alive. Her Imperial Condescension, The Batterwitch, Sea Hitler, Meenah’s Dancestor… whoever you call her, she’s responsible for humanity’s slow slide into destruction over the course of hundreds of years, aided by Guy Fieri (AKA the third Anti-Christ) and Co-Presidents the Insane Clown Posse. It doesn’t end well for them, or us.
The Draconian Dignitary Ascends
What starts off as a Post Scratch parody of a previous entry on this list, turns into something that’s recap, silly music video, and haunting omen all in one. The song is the only song in Homestuck that has lyrics and isn’t used specifically to make fun of a shitty blockbuster, and is where the Midnight Crew gets its name. The original was recorded by Eddie Morton in 1909, 100 years before Homestuck begins. I’m beginning to think that people should don magic rings more often, as it always results in some awesome music.
Caliborn Makes Dirk Draw Him Porn
The Post Scratch kids don’t have patron trolls bugging them. Instead, they have a couple of cherubs, one of whom eventually becomes the main antagonist of the whole series, Lord English. Right now though, he’s just Caliborn, a vile little brat. Caliborn threatens to kill his sister unless Dirk draws him some porn, even though Dirk happily complies anyway. However, what Caliborn considers “porn” is not what you’d expect.
Dirk and Jake’s Fucked Up First Kiss
Things are going bad for our new heroes. Jane and Roxy are recently dead, Jake is out cold, and time is running out. Dirk springs into action and kicks off a plan that involves his rocket skateboard, kissing two corpses to get them to return to life, and sending his own decapitated head through time and space to set everything in motion to begin with, and it all ends with the grossest first kiss of all time. It’s way more action packed than it sounds.
Caliborn Enters the Medium
Caliborn’s killed his sister Calliope, and he’s now finally free of her influence. We see the very beginning of the ultimate Bad Guy, Lord English, his unique SBURB experience, and just how far he’s willing to go to win. We also get to see what English gets up to in the future, namely obliterating dream bubbles in the medium that are filled with the ghosts of dead characters from alternate timelines, causing the very medium itself to crack. So far, only English has been able to obliterate a ghost (known as ‘double death’).
We’re introduced to the trolls who came before, much like John came before Jake, in this series of flash games starring the thuggish, crafty and selfish Meenah Piexes, whose Dancestor would become Her Imperial Condescension. We’ve met her and Aranea before, but now we get to meet the rest of her team. Standouts include another version of Karkat that’s a long-winded social justice crusader, another version of Sollux that’s a half-retarded spaz, another version of Tavros that’s named Rufio (and all that implies), and another version of Eridan that’s even sleazier than he was before. Plus, we get to see what Dave and Rose have been up to all this time.
John Fights Bec Noir
I included this mainly because it’s one of the relatively few action sequences we get to see in the series, and the first one where we see the kind of things a God Tier can do. Bec Noir hides in a dream bubble while running from the Peregrine Mendicant, reliving the bloody swath he carved across the Pre-Scratch Battlefield. John wakes up in the same dream bubble, and he and Bec Noir get in a tussle. Very little is accomplished, but it sure does look cool.
Meenah and Vriska “Fight”
The two crazy, tough, and manipulative troll girls from the two universes square off and flex their respective muscles. Then they call in their respective backup to flex THEIR muscles. Then the alternate timeline people flex their muscles and so on, until everyone’s so busy trash talking and preening that they never get around to fighting. Nothing really that important here, just a nifty flash movie and a great song.
Gamzee Becomes Caliborn’s “Guide”
Other than his quick stint as a potion salesman for Jane, the last time we saw Gamzee he was being crotch-kicked into the abyss by Kanaya over his murderous spree. Up until now, that’s the only bad thing that’s happened to him. Considering that even Hussie himself “is not personally aware of a single timeline in which this codpiece-packing moron dies”, Caliborn’s rude treatment of his sudden guide is likely the worst we’ll see him get. Beyond that, Caliborn meets his REAL guide… the author himself. Hussie refuses to explain things in detail to Caliborn, trying to force him to figure things out for himself, and in retaliation Caliborn starts destroying the actual website, almost literally breaking the fourth wall. Kojima would be proud.
Jane Has a Really Shitty Day
Guys, I’m going to give you a little writing tip. Are you listening Brendan? Of course you are, you’re hanging on my every word. If you want to create some serious drama and feelings that I can’t tear myself away from, have a bunch of shitty things happen to an adorable girl. The day before Jane’s birthday, Jake calls her to ask advice about his crumbling relationship with Dirk, in the process being as clueless as a human being possibly can. Through his selfishness, Jake enrages Jane and she finally loses it. Then, she gets taunted and abused by Caliborn about her weight and if her dad’s dead or not. Finally, she gets a sweet, time-delayed message from the long-departed Calliope. I couldn’t wait for things to get better for her, and they… uh… don’t. Yet.
The Kids Confront Their Feelings… Then Die
Our heroes have just come off the mother of all magic sugar highs, wherein they bared their souls to one another. Now that it’s worn off, it’s awkward confrontation time about what happened. Jake finally gets a clue, Dirk professes his admiration for Roxy, Jane gets over Jake, and Roxy comes to terms with falling off the wagon. Aw. Then the Batterwitch blows them all up. Oh no! It’s okay though! Since they’re on their quest beds, they ascend to God Tier. Yay! Just in time for the Batterwitch to take control of the newly arrived Jade and Jane in order to capture Roxy and Jake and leave Dirk stranded. Whew! Sucks for our heroes.
Vriska’s Crew Leaves Her
I talked about this moment on the podcast, where we see the quiet strength Vriska has under all her bravado and ego. Vriska is living her dream, leading an army to find a treasure that supposedly is the key to beating the unstoppable Lord English. She’s having to sacrifice all the alternate timeline versions of all her friends to do so, and this doesn’t sit well with the rest of her crew. After a particularly spirited outburst over finding out about a ring that can bring the dead back to life, her crew is finally put off enough by her vicious ambition to leave her one by one. When John tells her that he has the ring, but he doesn’t know if he wants to use it on someone so dangerous, she’s been finally been rejected by the two people she’s has a close connection to (the other being Tavros, who left just moments earlier). Her reaction isn’t to beg or cry, but to soldier on with her plan that she knows is despicable but she believes will save all of creation.
Kanaya and Rose’s Drunk Talk
Rose has gotten nervous about arriving at their destination and meeting her TeenMom, so she’s gotten rip roaring drunk. Apparently, this means she’s broken a promise to Kanaya. It’s a great mix of humor and touching relationship problems. This moment’s important because of all the romance hinted at in the whole series, Rose and Kanaya’s relationship is the only one that hasn’t crumbled. Also, THE MAYORRRRRRR.
John’s Trip Through All of Time and Space
Vriska’s found the treasure, and after some mental manipulation of the author to get things on track, we find out that the legendary weapon capable of stopping Lord English is… a glowing SBURB cursor? John, displaying a breathtaking lack of self-preservation, sticks his hand directly into it. We then see his hand pop out of several holes in reality behind him all at once… and over the next several pages we see that his hand is also popping up in the background of many scenes across the entire massive story thus far. Fifty two separate scenes, to be exact. He then disappears in a flash of light, randomly being teleported across time, space, and universes on a whirlwhind tour of locations before vanishing once again. He briefly visits Alternia, Pre-Scratch Earth, Post-Scratch Earth, various planets in the Medium, and even Con Air. The mindblowing part? If you go back through the archives, you’ll see that Hussie didn’t just create a montage of past scenes from the beginning and put hands in them… he went back to each image and put a hand in the original too, including the first Flash movie that shows the comic’s logo. If you’re a new reader reading it for the first time NOW (as I hope some of you are), you’ll periodically see John’s hand pop up and you won’t know why until literally thousands of pages later.
And that’s it so far. Hopefully one of these entries piqued your interest. It’s a great series, and a great way to waste a week getting lost in a new mythology. And I really skipped around! There’s a bunch here that’s great that’s not even mentioned. Roxy’s drunken typos, Trickster mode, and the comic-within-a-comic Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff are all things I didn’t even touch on. What are you waiting for? And listen… I know.