Tag Archives: Featured

The Homeless Hero: A New Short Story

It’s safe to say the batteries are recharged after the Zeldathon so it’s time for the announcement I was putting off: it’s new short story time!

It’s called The Homeless Hero and it tells the story of a young journalist who becomes involved with the world’s only superhero, Pinnacle. Pinnacle wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and help others. But he gives too much and it’s killing him. She needs to encourage him to be a little selfish before it’s too late.

Last time I was writing about how houses can be scarier than any of the demons and ghosts we can conjure to put in them. This time I’m writing about what it means to be a hero. What does it mean to devote ourselves to helping others? Superman has a life, a job, a wife (depending on DC’s mood that morning). He eats and sleeps like the rest of us. But there’s seven billion people in the world and someone always needs help. How does a superhero draw a line in the sand and say “this is my time; you’re on your own”?

These are the things I think about when I see Clark Kent doing, well, anything.

A copy of The Homeless Hero cost you only $0.99 from Amazon, Apple, Nook and Smashwords. But if you sign up to my newsletter, you can get a copy for absolutely free!




* indicates required

Email Format


How Iron Man 3 Got Extremis Wrong

I couldn’t love Iron Man until Warren Ellis came along. Until that point, Marvel didn’t seem to know what to do with him. He lacked a spark, so he was just a guy in a suit. Then Warren Ellis wrote his Extremis storyline. And I loved Iron Man.

Now if you haven’t seen Iron Man 3, look away now. In fact, drop everything and go see it.

To everyone else: wasn’t it a good film? Highlights for me included Tony’s panic attacks, Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin and, as ever, Don Cheadle. Good stuff. But man did they drop the ball with Extremis.

Tony Stark unlocks a door using a chip implanted in his arm. There are people in the world doing this now.I mentioned earlier that Iron Man in the comics lacked a spark. That’s because every superhero character has an identifying core. Captain America’s is patriotism. The Hulk’s is the monster/man, ego/id battle. Iron Man didn’t have one. But Ellis got the premise in five little words: test pilot of the future. Iron Man’s core is cutting edge technology.

That’s something Jon Favreau realised. His Iron Man films were grounded in tech, almost obsessed with it. But Iron Man was created fifty years ago. Today we’re building exoskeleton suits that aren’t miles away from Iron Man.

So Ellis gave us Extremis. The storyline gives us a Tony Stark whose Iron Man suit is reaching its limits. It’s become heavy and slow. And when Iron Man battles an Extremis-enhanced man, he gets his tin can handed to him.

What does he do? He’s outdated, antiquated and broken. So he upgrades. He installs Extremis into himself. Iron Man becomes a techno-biological upgrade to Tony Stark. He is the test pilot of the future. He is Iron Man.

Extremis put the technology in Tony Stark's body, making him Iron Man inside and out.Extremis puts Iron Man beyond today’s science. It lets Tony mentally interface with any wireless technology. It lets him power the suit by thought. It lets him control multiple suits and call them to him. Sound familiar? Barring the first, this is all the ending of Iron Man 3, isn’t it? Only Tony can’t do those things. He has to ask JARVIS to do them.

I like JARVIS. Great idea and I love Paul Bettany’s performance. But JARVIS overshadows Tony; Tony can stay in bed and send JARVIS instead. You can tell Shane Black knew that because he broke JARVIS for a huge portion of the film. JARVIS makes Tony, as a character, weak and redundant. When a computer can fly the Iron Man suit, it makes the notion of a human pilot outdated. Antiquated. Broken.

An Extremis-enhanced Tony Stark could have remedied that and given us Iron Man: test pilot of the future. But where Warren Ellis used Extremis to update Iron Man to 2.0, Shane Black used it to make monsters. And we got Iron Man 1.4. Incremental update.

Am I right? Or am I wrong? Leave a comment, I’m interested to hear what you think.

Replacing Google Reader with Flipboard

Are you still mourning the loss of Google Reader? Still not found a good replacement for it? Rocking an iPhone or Android phone? Then I’ve got the app for you: Flipboard.

Flipboard was intended as a social media aggregator, allowing you to add streams from Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and et cetera. That meant my early experiments with Flipboard were doomed; I like my social media segregated rather than aggregated.

But when they announced the imminent doom of Google Reader I immediately thought of Flipboard. So many RSS readers relied on Google whereas I knew Flipboard did not. The work of a few minutes had Flipboard acting like a far superior version of Google Reader.

Adding Feeds

A screenshot from Flipboard.How a single feed looks in Flipboard.The search bar in Flipboard.

Start with the button in the top-right hand corner. On the home screen it’s that red button; the red disappears when you’re in a feed but it’s still there. Hit that and it will offer you a search bar. Use that bar to either search for the name of the blog (James T Kelly, perhaps?) or type in the blog’s URL (http:// and all, like this: http://www.jamestkelly.com/feed). Scroll through the search results until you find what you’re looking for. I find typing in the URL has better luck than searching by name. Tap the blog you want to add and a new tile will appear in the app. Each new feed gets its own tile. Not sure which blogs to add? Check out these 5 blogs every indie writer should read!

Read Pretty

RSS readers used to be bare-bones affairs, which was exactly what was needed when they first arrived. But we can afford ourselves more luxuries these days. Flipboard turns your blog roll into your own personal magazine. You can either tap each tile to read a single blog, or use the Top Stories tile to read an aggregate of all your blogs together.

Create Your Own Magazine

Flipboard has also introduced Magazines, a way of adding individual articles to a collection that can be viewed and subscribed to by anyone. I’ve been playing with it and even created my own Magazine, Writers, Right?. You can also create private Magazines to collect your favourite articles.

So I’m actually kind of glad they pulled the plug on Google Reader. What about you? Which service did you pick to replace Reader?

Your Guide to Gay Superheroes

Last week I wrote about the controversy surrounding DC hiring anti-gay activist Orson Scott Card. And it seemed no sooner did I put down the metaphorical pen than I heard the news that Batwoman had proposed to her girlfriend. (Damage control on DC’s part? Or am I being cynical?) So this week I decided to put together a little guide to the major gay superheroes in comics.

Northstar marries his partner Kyle.Northstar

Northstar has to come first in the list. He was arguably the first major gay superhero, coming out back in 1992. Even if he wasn’t the first gay superhero, though, he’s certainly the first superhero to get married! So he definitely gets top billing.

That said, though, you’ve probably never heard of him. That’s because Marvel couldn’t (wouldn’t) out a major character in 1992. So they chose a member of Canadian mutant super team Alpha Flight.

Apollo/Superman and Midnighter/BatmanApollo and Midnighter

Apollo and the Midnighter come from the Wildstorm Comics stable of characters and came out quite quickly. They had a commitment ceremony long before Northstar started shopping for rings and they’ve adopted a daughter (and she’s the spirit of the 21st century, so make of that what you will). Wildstorm is now owned by DC but started life as a separate company and Apollo and the Midnighter are unabashed Superman and Batman analogues.

Which makes sense. There’s always been a chemistry between Supes and Bats, right?

Ultimate ColossusUltimate Colossus

I took a little dig at Northstar for being a minor league hero, but Colossus is definitely a bigger ticket. He’s one of the X-men and even made it into the X-men movies. Okay, yes, he’s straight in mainstream continuity. But back in the 90s Marvel launched their Ultimate line, comics using the same characters but updating and reinventing them for new readers. And in this universe, Colossus is gay. In fact he dated Ultimate Northstar.

Green Lantern Alan Scott was retconned to be gay in the New 52.Green Lantern

DC wiped out years of continuity in 2011 and completely rebooted every one of its titles as part of their “New 52” initiative. As part of this reboot, DC announced that they would out one of its classic characters. Batman was immediately everyone’s favourite candidate (perhaps due to the enduring influence of Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent). But DC opted for Green Lantern. But not Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern you might recognise from the movie. They picked Alan Scott, the Green Lantern from alternative and second string universe Earth Two.

I won’t lie, I was a little disappointed. Alan Scott wasn’t the quite the big ticket name DC had led us to expect.

Batwoman

Batwoman has been around for almost sixty years but came to the fore during DC’s 52 event when Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman disappeared for a year. Although Batwoman is a bit of a Batman clone (she’s a millionaire and suffered some childhood trauma of her own) she’s quite beloved and big enough to have her own comic. And she just proposed to her girlfriend in a frankly stunning panel of comic art.

Batwoman proposes to her partner Maggie.

Now tell me: are there enough gay superheroes in comics? Or are there some characters you think still need to step out of the closet?

Cover to The Homeless Hero by James T KellyUpdate: I’ve written a superhero story of my own! Pinnacle is the only superhero in the world and is determined to look after all of us. But he can’t look after himself. Does being a hero mean self-sacrifice or can a balance be found?

Check out The Homeless Hero now!