With the current obsession that modern pop culture has with zombies and caped heroics, it should surprise no one that superhero zombie fiction exists. Marvel comics themselves have capitalized on this with a very successful and surprisingly well written saga in the form of the various “Marvel Zombies” titles. With two pop culture elements on the verge of becoming stale (rotten in the case of zombies), it is very surprising to find a superhero/zombie apocalypse novel that is genuinely compelling and fresh.
“Ex-Heroes” by Peter Clines as well as its 3 (so far) sequels follows a collection of original superheroes thrust together during a zombie apocalypse to protect a fortified community of survivors In Los Angeles.
I will admit that when I first heard the premise of “Ex-Heroes” I was skeptical. Until a close friend, whose hatred of zombie fiction was no secret, confessed their love for the book. That was enough for me to give it a try and pleasantly discover a very well written and thought out story.
A major strength of “Ex-Heroes” is that the superhero and zombie elements could exist independently of each other and still be compelling, if not a little on the formulaic side. The cast of super-empowered characters we encounter do fit into the tried and true archetypes any follower of the JLA or Avengers would recognize, and the story doesn’t really add anything new to the zombie apocalypse genre, but these are ultimately strengths in my opinion.
This is the superhero novel I would recommend to friends who weren’t particularly into superheroes. It’s also the zombie novel I would recommend to those not particularly into zombie fiction. It’s a fun ride, even if it takes a few familiar paths.