How is it that the pre-Scratch trolls are all one-dimensional annoyances transparently introduced only so Hussie can kill them all… and they’re still FAR more interesting than the post-Scratch kids?

(From MS Paint Adventures: Homestuck. Click for full-sized one ring to rule them all.)

Something’s been very odd about the recently-completed intermission; so much of its content was concentrated in three non-flashes that it’s felt unnaturally short, and I felt like we spent almost no time with the meteor crew, with Karkat and Terezi only making appearances in those flashes where the meteor crew wasn’t even the focus. And yet, it’s left me feeling as optimistic as I’ve ever been about the direction of the comic.

Nearly a year ago, on the heels of the undisputed most dramatic moment in Homestuck history, Andrew Hussie ground the plot to a halt to introduce us to four new players, shunting virtually any appearances of the four original kids, or the twelve trolls that had supplanted them as the most popular characters in the comic, to intermissions within Act 6. And no matter how much what we were witnessing might have been relevant to the big picture, I and I suspect many others just wondered when we were going to return to the characters we came to Homestuck for, when the plot was actually going to ramp back into gear and get moving.

Hussie had done this before; the proper introduction of the trolls in Act 5-1 came on the heels of the previous most dramatic moment in Homestuck history, right as, as I mentioned in my original review, the plot was finally starting to get interesting. But the trolls didn’t disappoint, turning out to be perhaps the most interesting characters in the comic, as opposed to the cyphers that were the four original kids. But the post-Scratch kids were almost just the opposite. Oh, they were interesting in their own way, especially Roxy’s alchoholism and Jake’s zest for adventure, but we hadn’t spent two-thirds of the comic’s total run time (including unreleased pages) on them the way we had with the pre-Scratch kids and trolls, and the new kids weren’t anywhere near interesting enough to overcome that, especially given my suspicion that they will all be shunted to the background or killed once the real heroes come back. Those brief glimpses we got of the kids and trolls only underscored how little we were invested in the new characters.

But now… now I finally feel like we’re picking up the main plot where we left it off at the end of Act 5, and after going off track for so long, we’re now starting to become laser-focused on the end of the comic. Just in the opening non-flash, we see that the incident at the end of the last sub-act has turned on the crew on the meteor to who Lord English is and the threat he poses, as well as get what amounts to confirmation that yes, Caliborn is in fact a young Lord English. (I hope the only reason for that wasn’t to set up the use of Calliope as the method of defeating him, because if so Hussie went so all-out in doing so he may have actually weakened Lord English as a villain.)

Over the course of the act, three ghost-troll plans arise for taking him out: Aranea’s plan to find Calliope’s ghost (which, given what we know, makes very little sense to me), Meenah’s plan to raise an army to go after Lord English directly (which is probably how the pre-Scratch trolls, and some of the post-Scratch ones, will all be unceremoniously disposed of), and Vriska’s plan to find some sort of MacGuffin that can defeat him somehow. They aren’t mutually exclusive, and Vriska suggests they might actually be working in concert even as they largely ignore one another, while the end of the “ministrife” flash, while not resolving its own conflict, suggests they might end up working a little closer than that, though Vriska seems to want to use Meenah’s army as little more than a pack of redshirts to light the way to her MacGuffin.

(By the way, with all apologies to Dave Strider, I think Meenah had already replaced him as my favorite character in Homestuck even before this intermission made her a lot more sympathetic.)

We’ve spent three sub-acts and the better part of a year focused on what has amounted to a sidetrack, but now the end goal of all of Homestuck has come into laser focus, with Lord English taking center stage as its main villain and the efforts of all the characters focused on defeating him. In this intermission, we’ve seen what the plans of the ghost trolls are, but they will still amount to a sidetrack and at best support for the real heroes. The bigger development on the horizon is the impending arrival of the kids we’ve come to know and love into the post-Scratch session sometime within the next sub-act. Once that happens, it’ll be nothing but full-speed ahead right to Homestuck‘s climax, on as many tracks as possible, no matter how circuitous the route we took to get to this point. Hopefully it won’t be the long, drawn-out, tedious battle the climax of Problem Sleuth turned out to be.

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