It’s always potential fun when someone tries to tie two popular genres together, but often time the fun ends once you get to see the end result and realize that what you have is a mishmash of ideas that never really mixed well. Not so here, with Ex-Heros. Peter Clines has created a very plausible set of superheros facing the zombie apocalypse and doing what they do best: saving the world. Its certainly a struggle for them, as there is no way to stop the zombie menace, but they’ve focused on creating a safe haven in Los Angeles at Paramount studios, aka The Mount, which is the most easily defensible place where they could bring hundreds to thousands of survivors. Opposed to them are the Seventeens, an old LA Gang that essentially controls the rest of LA, with their mysterious leader.
The story is told by switching back and forth from the present to the past, with each flashback done in first person and told from the perspective of a particular superhero. The story is given the opportunity to slowly reveal itself this way and had a flavor of Watchmen to it that really worked in this setting. Our superheros aren’t perfect-often they are sullen and none too happy with the people they are protecting, who don’t necessarily trust them. In addition to this, some of the superheros have fallen to the Ex virus, which started the zombie apocalypse in this story, and while they are not quite as powerful as they once were, they still present a sizable threat to both the human and superhero population in the story.
Clines does an excellent job of creating unique and believable hero’s for this tale, with The Great Dragon leading the pack. They may be studs physically, but there are plenty of warts that are revealed during the story, giving us some surprises along the way that impact the story dramatically.
I think this is one of the best genre cross-over stories I have read in some time and Clines, who indicated that many of the superheros created here came from his and friends childhood visions, clearly has a passion for both genres, and has created a very unique genesis to the zombie in this story that makes perfect sense and lands like a sledgehammer on the reader towards the end of the story.
There is no doubt that Clines could make this into a series, or just pull off a sequel, if he chooses. The characters are rich and involving and there is certainly much more to be revealed about all of them. Definitely recommended for the zombie and superhero fan alike.
Ex-Heros can be found on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Ex-Heroes-Peter-Clines/dp/1934861286/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274810026&sr=1-1