Saturday, September 21, 2013

Worm is a serialized superhero on the web. Worm is wow.

I'm really enjoying this story of a girl in high school who has super powers and is just now ready to start using them publicly, who has to figure out how to keep her secret identity and carve out a hero identity:

 I'm going to try and mention a couple of things about it that might grab you, and then I'm going to point out a few cool things from a comic geek perspective.

Okay, let's set the hook a couple of ways:

  • Girl in high school must resist using her super powers to destroy her bullies.  I mean, if you went through high school and didn't at some point think, "wow, it's a good thing I don't have laser vision, because I'd just fry half the people here in a weak moment," then dude, you were part of the problem.
  • Girl sets out to begin publicly using her powers, immediately meets both heroes and villains; forms relationships with both, setting her on a path where she's going to be pulled in both directions.

I like that she's had the powers for a while. I like her point of view. I like that she has a plan for becoming a superhero.

The story paints a world where superpowered people are pretty common, where society has come up with some interesting was to integrate them, or not integrate. The author has clearly thought about the ramifications of super powers in interesting ways. Kids discuss metahumans in ethics class. There are blogs about the "capes." There's media from an alternate world that some mad scientist contacted.

The comic-book dichotomy of heroes and villains is soon complicated. Villains get  a chance to talk about how they see things.

The worldbuilding goes further on how superpowers work. Powers seem to be connected in some way, and that interests me, because having a rationale for all powers is kind of the obvious way to make a comic-book world make more sense -- HEROES did the same thing of course -- but it also tends to kill the comic-book feel. Comic-book worlds have dozens of heroes with wildly different origins. So far the feel of Worm is of a world with lots of wild heroes, yet it's clear that powers have some things in common. For example, a common limit is mentioned, of powers not working inside someone's body, so that for example a force-field power can't be used to put a bubble in someone's heart and kill them instantly. That's a tremendously useful limitation.

This girl's got problems. In fact, she's kind of got all the classic Spider-Man problems. Bullying at school, led by an intense alpha kid. Missing a parent. And since her power is the ability to summon and control bugs, well, the parallels are fun.

But it's the writing that does it. You're intensely in her head as she deals with all of her problems. It's about relationships and choices and pain. The bullying is scarily intense. I'm loving every episode so far and I've read 13 episodes so far. So, enjoy!

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