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Bullying, Bads, and Bugs

By Robert Rodgers, author of The Last Skull

Jul 26, 2011: Worm is a story about Taylor, a teenage victim of severe bullying who finds her escape in superheroism—using her control over insects to fight crime.

The story’s got some bumps, yeah—the dialogue doesn’t always snap, the main character’s narrative gets a little info-dumpy, and there are a few bits that get mired in expository mud. But what makes Worm really crack—what, for me, knocked it from a 3.5 to a 4—was its main character, and how she calls back to Steve Ditko’s Peter Parker.

With the power to rain hell down upon her tormentors, she opts instead to use those powers to do good, rather than evil. Like Spiderman, she allows herself to be seen as weak and vulnerable rather than getting back at the bullies who make her life miserable. Actually, in a way, I like this character more than Peter Parker—he does what he does because of personal tragedy, while for Taylor, it’s just a way to escape. Taylor sounds more reasonable to me.

There are a few things that strain credibility (yes, I know, credibility in a story about people who fly and shoot laser beams out of their eyes), but it’s otherwise just a lot of good, simple fun—although the depiction of psychological bullying in the narrative is often harsh, so keep this in mind. At least one scene made me genuinely uncomfortable (at no fault of the author’s own—warnings are provided for scenes that include bullying, which is a great idea); if you’re sensitive toward this thing, be warned.

A fun read, and something I’d recommend to anyone with a taste for superhero fiction.

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