8 Reasons You Should Read "Worm"

8 Reasons You Should Read "Worm"

We run down the basics of how awesome this web serial is
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“When I looked at her with my power, before, I called her the Worm. She spent some time being as low on the food chain as you can get while still being able to move under her own power. As low as someone can get while still having an identity of their own. But she’s realized she’s poisonous, dangerous in her own unique way. She’s useful, like a silkworm we harvest or an earthworm who works our gardens. She’s even realized she’s not alone, so long as she looks for friends among other dirty… contemptible creatures…. The little worm found a nugget of self-worth, she just doesn’t want to look too closely at what that nugget is made of. If she’s lucky, she’s one of the worms without eyes. They might be keenly aware of their environment, but they’re happier blind.”

-Cherish on Taylor's growth and decline as a person. "Worm" Arc 12, chapter 4

The world seems rampant with films and shows of superheroes now. It can be hard to appreciate how interesting and awesome this kind of fiction can be. Superheroes are something that has influenced and engaged the popular culture since their inception, and with the influx in popularity of late thanks in no small part to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it can be a great feeling to sit down and read something original for a change, something that isn’t mired in brand recognition, product placement, or just outright sleazy business decisions as Marvel Studios tends to be. But we’re not here to bash Marvel Studios; that’s been done far better by other people. No, what we’re talking about is a story that gets back to what makes superheroes awesome, that examines the parts of ourselves that can be explored with this caped crusader backdrop. We’re talking about a little web serial by one John McCrae entitled “Worm”.

Released as a web serial from 2011 to late 2013, “Worm” is about a teenage girl, Taylor Hebert, living in a superpower-normalized world, with heroes and villains alike running rampant around the globe. Taylor herself has powers, and she quickly gets swept up into the "cape" political scene of how a hero's or villain's image can impact their reputation and how merely taking over the city or saving innocent lives might not be foremost on a super's mind. Taylor befriends a group of villains, and her world view changes and is challenged by circumstance and by the powered community at large. It is truly a remarkable story that becomes more enlivened and more complicated as it progresses. McCrae should be proud of what he's done. This man is also a writing machine; he never misses a deadline and he's currently on his third web serial following immediately after his second! He is also planning on reworking “Worm” to be released as a self-published book (likely an e-book), tentatively scheduled for release in late 2016. This serial has generated a lot of buzz, and it’s easy to see why once you start reading it.

And here are eight reasons why you should.

1. The Tone

There are a lot of sources from which "Worm" draws, the most obvious being a lovely nod and expansion of much of what DC had been doing in the late '90s and early '00s with a bit of modern Marvel thrown in. As such, many of the elements (the PRT, the villain groups, and the various "cape" legal systems that are in place) have a real-world feel to them. Taylor's life is pretty bleak, all things considered, and that sets the tone of the work well right from the start. It also makes many of the decisions and behaviors that the various players involved make striking and understandable. This work is bleak, but it isn't a "no hope" bleak. It's more of a "there's hope, but the price is pretty damn high" bleak, like a bleak that makes you realize that these people might not want to save humanity if it means giving up power, or if it means recognizing the worst aspects of yourself in order to do what's right. Those are great moral, personal, and ethical dilemmas, and the serial has no problem exploring and twisting those around as it progresses. The characters, especially Taylor, struggle with their lives and their minds when faced with these responsibilities and powers, and each does so in such a way that puts Peter Parker's struggle and Uncle Ben's infamous quote to shame. Not to say that Spider-Man is a bad character or anything, but in terms of just breaking out of that normalcy, "Worm" is a huge winner.

2. The World-Building

One of the staples of science fiction is world-building, creating a world and then doing stuff with it or in it. The world of "Worm" is complex, it's intricate, and it makes sense. Common sense, for sure, but also an internal logic that rivals many a comic book world. The world of the cape community is established and expanded upon in a believable way with internal politics and personal agendas being common-place amongst the heroes and villains. Many of the superhero teams are organized realistically, be it within government control, or operating more as units than as individual people mashed into a group for the sake of it. The nods to other superhero stories are great to see too; how people in this universe make their costumes or get their names to the reputations of the heroes and villains being as important if not more so than actually protecting civilians or robbing a bank is explored in this work and it offers a meta commentary on the tropes and clichés of traditional superhero stories. This makes the world feel like an established, lived-in place instead of a world that was being built as each chapter was being released.

3. The Battles

Undoubtedly, one of the things that superhero stories are going to have are big fights, and "Worm" has no shortage of those. The scope of battles do fluctuate thankfully between small skirmishes and huge fights with the Endbringers, essentially huge WMD monsters that periodically attack the Earth; there are three of them (at first) and they’re mega powerful. The dynamics of the powers within the teams of heroes and villains often work off of or with each other during a fight, and the different forms of combat, be it hand-to-hand, a firefight, or long-ranged power fighting, make every fight unique and interesting. The first large, multi-fronted fight we see is in Arc 8. The whole of the cape community of the fictional Brooklyn Bay, heroes and villains alike, must fight against the Endbringer Leviathan so as to stop him from destroying the city. This was the arc that made me go from liking the serial to absolutely loving it. It wasn't just that the fight itself was suitably epic and properly cinematic, but the fallout from this has repercussions throughout the rest of the story, from big to small, and it was awesome seeing how the cape politics worked regarding the Endbringers, again giving this world a lived-in and three-dimensional feel.

4. The Plots

"Worm" is full of twists and turns (or Wham Episodes, if you’re going by TVTropes jargon), and the plots become more complicated as the narrative moves along. From Cauldron's plan to take over the world so as to ostensibly protect humanity, to how the capes are going to deal with an Endbringer attack, all the way to how Taylor is going to be able to work around all these obstacles to meet her dad for lunch, everything is handled deftly here (for the most part). Because the plot moves almost always at a breakneck pace, the decisions that the characters make feel natural, and because the stakes not only get bigger but also deeper, the choices that the characters make are for the most part based on personal gain or loss. The characters themselves have to often times choose between doing the right thing for the wrong reasons or doing something noble but ultimately making a bad situation worse. You really feel like these people are making decisions in the spur of the moment rather than all of this being contrived by the author. The middle of "Worm" is thick with a bevy of concurrent plots running and intersecting with one another. This is widely considered to be the best portion of the serial, and with good reason. The characters’ actions become more extreme, the established lore is now examined by the characters themselves, and the twists become sharper. The ending is a bit of a mixed bag in terms of pacing, but where everyone ends up in the final few chapters makes it feel earned and worth an admittedly at-times-sluggish multiple-chapter battle finale.

5. The Powers

Taylor controls bugs; Lisa has superhuman intuition; there's a minor character whose power is superhuman singing. In any other story, or even in the real world, we would throw these powers out there as jokes. But here, these powers are used to brilliant effect. Watching Taylor learn about and expand and experiment with her power, seeing her power develop over time in line with her personal situation and mental development as a super-villain is such an engaging experience. The beginnings of the serial take a page fromBatman Begins” in that we get to see Taylor use trial-and-error to see what's most effective on opponents. And many of her opponents are more powerful, both physically and superpower-wise, and so that makes all of her victories all the stronger. She is forced to compensate for a power whose premise is rather weak by relying on her wicked sharp intellect as well, and this is used to deadly effect. There is also a power classification system in this world, and it’s probably one of the most thought out and logical systems that anyone, fans and authors alike, has come up with. Having the various capes get thrown into categories according to their powers is something that I can see happening in the real world if capes were to ever show up, and it's used nicely here. Again, this lends an element of realism and believability to the piece that meshed very well with the story. Powers are often used outside of fighting too: Taylor has her costume made out of spider silk, for example. The story behind the powers is also one that makes sense for this universe, and the way the powers themselves work is logical and innovative: for every advantage that a character has with a power, there's a clear line that that power can't (or more specifically is designed not to) cross. It is a good writing decision to have every power come with a limit. It explains away a number of general questions concerning superheroes in comics past. This also had the added benefit of making the powers themselves have interesting consequences. The story seems to imply (and later verifies) that the more powerful you are, the less human you become, and that's such an interesting position to put these characters in, because it means that these people are constantly having to keep their powers in check. This is another element of the serial that grabbed me early on, and thankfully, most of the powers don't get stale over time.

6. The People

Taylor is not the only character who is engaging. Tattletale, Armsmaster, Dragon, and virtually the entire Brooklyn Bay Wards team were all really memorable characters. While "Worm" is mainly plot-driven, that doesn't mean that characters are vacuous. Many of the characters, particularly the non-powered people in charge, were generally not good people. Armsmaster himself isn't a nice guy in the beginning despite being a superhero (some would argue that he never did become one at all). The main foursome of Taylor, Lisa, Brian, and Rachel work well as a unit and play off of each other nicely. There's a real spark and bond between the group, even as Taylor is introduced to all of them at first, and besides that, there's also plenty of inner-group conflict going on which leads to some great conversations. Indeed, some of the most memorable moments of the serial to me were the quiet moments, the ones where characters got to sit back and regroup and talk to each other. The other teams of heroes and villains are distinct and each member is given their fair share of development. At times, their power tends to overshadow their personalities, but the fact of the matter is that the cast for this story is so huge, that if one character doesn’t work for you, odds are there’s another one who knocks it out of the park.

7. The Pace

It's definitely not perfect; the latter half of the middle and especially the end fight are both wrought with weird and unfortunate pacing issues, but when "Worm" is on its game, man, does it fly! There's such a great feeling to reading this. Because the conflicts are multi-faceted and multi-layered, rarely is there a dull moment even if we're not witnessing a giant battle. There's always something going on in Taylor's head that is intriguing on its own, and seeing her work out her various plans and wrestle with her moral center is just as engaging if not more so than any Endbringer attack ever is. The story moves, and the plot, characters, and themes develop and move with it at a fast and appreciable pace. This does hit a huge wall with a time jump late in the story, and even McCrae himself admits that he isn’t happy with this section. (Luckily, he is working on another draft of the story that he’s planning to self-publish, and he says that there is going to be an expansion of that in the final version.) Also of note is the finale. Without giving away spoilers, the finale is protracted and it drags. Both this and the time jump work to only slam the breaks down on a story that is built on its moment-to-moment narrative. Those two issues aside, though, the pace is excellent! The web serial format helps with the feeling of constantly moving, too, though having this be a published book raises no complaints at all either.

8. The Voice of Taylor Hebert

One of the first things that struck me about the serial, and thankfully only strengthened as it went on, was the narrative voice. “Worm” is written in the first-person, and Taylor's voice is one of the smartest and most engaging main character narrations that I've read, certainly in the sci-fi/fantasy genre. Every decision she makes is calculated and worked through, and seeing the wheels turn in her head as she assesses her situation and then make the appropriate call is engaging as hell, whether she be operating in combat or just talking to her friends. Taylor's journey is the principle one, obviously, and much of that entails her descent from mild-mannered teenager into hardened tactician and villain, and her voice, tone, and how events and people are described to the reader reflects that, particularly at the end of the book. Reading her brain in action is a good chunk of what you’re getting into with this work. Her views of the world change throughout the story, and this makes the movement of the work and the in-universe journey tremendously satisfying. This represents some truly effective writing skills, and Taylor's transformation is one of the most well put together character developments I've ever read. If nothing else, give "Worm" a read for this experience alone.

“Worm” is one of the most unique experiences I’ve had reading anything in the superhero genre. This is a lengthy work, numbering over 1.6 million words and spanning 30 arcs each with roughly eight to ten chapters each, but if you’re a fan of superheroes, you owe it to yourself to check this out. This is a great book, a wonderful take on the world of superheroes, and serves as proof that this genre is not dead, no matter what you might read from anti-Marvel Cinematic Universe fans.

Further Reading

Start reading "Worm" here

The "Worm" TVTropes Page

"Interview with Worm Author John McCrae"

"Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Can Superhero Movies Get Smaller?"

Cover Image Credit: John McCrae

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35 Major Life Facts According To Nick Miller

"All booze is good booze, unless it's weak booze."
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Fact: If you watch "New Girl," you love Nick Miller.

You can't help it. He's an adorable, lovable mess of a man and you look forward to seeing him and his shenanigans each week. While living the infamous and incomparable life of Nick Miller, and obviously Julius Pepperwood— he has learned many valuable laws of the land. And, although Nick refuses to learn anything from anyone besides his mysterious, old Asian friend Tran, he does have a few lessons he'd like to teach us.

Here are 35 facts of life according to 'Nick Milla Nick Milla':

1. Drinking keeps you healthy.

"I'm not gonna get sick. No germ can live in a body that is 65% beer."

2. Dinosaurs never existed.

"I don't believe dinosaurs existed. I've seen the science. I don't believe it."


3. A paper bag is a bank.

"A bank is just a paper bag but with fancier walls."


4. Having sex is similar to delivering mail.

"I'm like a mailman, except instead of mail it's hot sex that I deliver."

5. Moonwalking is a foolproof way to get out of any awkward situation.

Jess (about Nick): "Now he won't even talk to me. I saw him this morning and he just panic moonwalked away from me. He does that sometimes."

6. Using a movie reference is also a great way.

Cece: "Come on, get up!"

Nick: "No, I don't dance. I'm from that town in "Footloose."

7. There's no reason to wash towels.

Nick: "I don’t wash the towel. The towel washes me. Who washes a towel?"

Schmidt: "You never wash your towel?"

Nick: "What am I gonna do? Wash the shower next? Wash a bar of soap?"

8. Exes are meant to be avoided at all costs (especially if/unless they're Caroline)

"I don't deal with exes, they're part of the past. You burn them swiftly and you give their ashes to Poseidon."

9. IKEA furniture is not as intimidating as it looks.

"I'm building you the dresser. I love this stuff. It's like high-stakes LEGOs."

10. You don't need forks if you have hands.

Jess: "That's gross. Get a fork, man."

Nick: "I got two perfectly good forks at the end of my arms!"

11. Sex has a very specific definition.


"It's not sex until you put the straw in the coconut."

12. Doors are frustrating.

"I will push if I want to push! Come on! I hate doors!"

13. All booze is good booze.

"Can I get an alcohol?"

14. ...unless it's weak booze.

"Schmidt, that is melon flavored liquor! That is 4-proof! That is safe to drink while you're pregnant!"

15. Writers are like pregnant women.

Jess: "You know what that sound is? It's the sound of an empty uterus."

Nick: "I can top that easily. I'm having a hard time with my zombie novel."

Jess: "Are you really comparing a zombie novel to my ability to create life?"

Nick: "I'm a writer, Jess. We create life."

16. All bets must be honored.

"There is something serious I have to tell you about the future. The name of my first-born child needs to be Reginald VelJohnson. I lost a bet to Schmidt."

17. Adele's voice is like a combination of Fergie and Jesus.

"Adele is amazing."

18. Beyoncé is extremely trustworthy.

"I'd trust Beyoncé with my life. We be all night."

19. Fish, on the other hand, are not.


“Absolutely not. You know I don’t trust fish! They breathe water. That's crazy!"

20. Bar mitzvahs are terrifying.

Schmidt: "It's a bar mitzvah!"

Nick: "I am NOT watching a kid get circumcised!"

21. ...so are blueberries.

Jess: "So far, Nick Miller's list of fears is sharks, tap water, real relationships..."

Nick: "And blueberries."

22. Take your time with difficult decisions. Don't be rash.


Jess: "You care about your burritos more than my children, Nick?"

Nick: "You're putting me in a tough spot!"

23. Getting into shape is not easy.

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24. We aren't meant to talk about our feelings.

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25. We're all a little bit too hard on ourselves.

"The enemy is the inner me."

26. Freezing your underwear is a good way to cool off.


"Trust me, I'm wearing frozen underpants right now and I feel amazing. I'm gonna grab some old underpants and put a pair into the freezer for each of you."

27. Public nudity is normal.

"Everbody has been flashed countless times."

28. Alcohol is a cure-all.


"You treat an outside wound with rubbing alcohol. You treat an inside wound with drinking alcohol."

29. Horses are aliens.

"I believe horses are from outer-space."


30. Turtles should actually be called 'shell-beavers.'

Jess: "He calls turtles 'shell-beavers."

Nick: "Well, that's what they should be called."

31. Trench coats are hot.


"This coat has clean lines and pockets that don't quit, and it has room for your hips. And, when I wear it, I feel hot to trot!"


32. Sparkles are too.

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33. Introspection can lead to a deeper knowing of oneself.

"I'm not convinced I know how to read. I've just memorized a lot of words."


34. It's important to live in the moment.

"I know this isn't gonna end well but the middle part is gonna be awesome."


35. Drinking makes you cooler.

Jess: "Drinking to be cool, Nick? That's not a real thing."

Nick: "That's the only thing in the world I know to be true."

Cover Image Credit: Hollywood Reporter

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The Zodiac Signs As Bath And Body Works Scents

Just in case you want to know what scent you are!

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Bath and Body Works fans could be considered to be part of a cult. The scents draw you in as if calling your name, if you ever
wondered what your scent should be based on your zodiac sign, here it is!

Aries: Country Apple

The rather impulsive Aries takes their time picking and choosing the scents from Bath and Body Works. The soothing scent of a fresh apple orchard is just what they need on a daily basis to keep up with their shenanigans.

Taurus: Japanese Cherry Blossom

The personality of a Taurus is stubborn, or what I like to say, is stuck in their ways. When they first discovered this scent in middle school, this was it. This is the only scent you will find anywhere around a Taurus.

Libra: Pink Chiffon

Pink Chiffon is another cult classic. This best selling scent went out of style for a hot second but is back and bigger than ever.

Leo: Thousand Wishes

Thousand Wishes is a purr-fect scent for a Leo. The light scent adornes the wearer just the right amount to get the desired reaction from those around them.

Aquarius: Be Enchanted

The rather cold personality of an Aquarius is counteracted by the loving scent of Be Enchanted. The scent is just enough tenderness for the wearer to be relaxed.

Gemini: Moonlight Path

Gemini's constantly change their favorite scent and are in and out of the store almost weekly to by new lotions, candles, and body washes. You will never see a full empty bottle of anything, however, Moonlight Path is the scent they keep coming back to again and again.

Virgo: Sea Island Cotton

The clean personality of a Virgo must be matched with the clean scent of Sea Island Cotton.

Capricorn: Cucumber Melon

Another clean scent of Cucumber Melon is the exact thing a Capricorn needs. The balance and calming scents are what make this scent so attractive to a Capricorn.

Scorpio: Paris Amour

The light scent is what you would expect from an extreme sign like a Scorpio. The scent lightly washes over the wearer in almost a cloud that

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Cashmere Glow is a perfect scent for the winter sign. The vanilla and golden peach scent is just the mixture that creates the perfect accessory in the chilly months.

Pisces: Warm Vanilla Sugar

This lovely scent accentuates the lovely personality of a Pisces. They can never get enough of this scent so they just keep buying and buying until they have a full stockpile.

Cancer: Velvet Sugar

Velvet Sugar is the perfect blend of red velvet and strawberries and a Cancer is always changing their mind. The wearer can tell if it is a more red velvet or strawberry kind of day, and that is the balance that they need in their lives.

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