Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

Posted on: March 15, 2010

True confession time – I’m a comic geek from way back. Today, I’ll still pick up a few titles in collected editions every now and again. Further, I have a love for many novelizations of comic superhero adventures. Stuff like Chris Golden’s Daredevil or Wolverine novels and the novelization of DC’s Infinite Crisis series by Greg Cox. Don’t get me wrong, there are an awful lot of duds along the way but there are gems to be had.

The same might be said of zombie novels. There are tons of bad, outright awful, zombie books on the shelves, with more arriving every week it seems. But, there are some that rise to the level of brilliance.

EX-HEROES falls into the latter category.

Despite the best efforts of a variety of superheroes, zombies have taken over. A fast-acting virus, transmitted by saliva, is responsible for the zombie infestation. The zombies are called exes, as in ex-humans. A small group of survivors has taken refuge in a movie studio in Hollywood. With names like Gorgon, Stealth, The Mighty Dragon, and Zzzap, the heroes use their powers and abilities to help protect and aid their human charges. Played completely straight, the characters are very human in their personalities. They make mistakes, they aren’t perfect, and they come across as real people. For fellow comic fans, imagine Watchmen with zombies. The contest the human survivors run regarding who has killed the most famous celebrity zombie is both morbid and believable.

The heroes lead teams of normal folks out into the devastated city to scavenge for supplies. The humans are on one hand in awe of the heroes and their abilities. On the other hand, they know all too well that in spite of those abilities, the zombies were still able to take over the city.

As this group struggles to make a life, to not only survive but thrive, they discover they aren’t the only survivors. Unfortunately, these other people aren’t looking to play nice. And they have their own protectors.

The book is written in two parts. Most of the story takes place in the current setting. Interspersed throughout are flashback chapters, each focusing on one of the heroes and their experiences leading up to the zombie crisis. They serve to give a little background on the origin of each hero as well as helping the reader to understand each hero’s point of view in the current situation.

I’m not giving anything away by saying the origin of the zombie virus in this book was an excellent twist. It didn’t come completely out of left field and made perfect sense, yet many if not most readers will never see it coming.

The book isn’t without flaws. There are a few plot holes that should have been better explained. Thankfully, these are few and far between. All in all, this was a very enjoyable read. Highly recommended to zombie fans as well as former/current comic geeks like myself.

The book is available at most major bookstores as well as from the publisher here.

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