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‘Ex-Heroes’ (Jack Kirby’s Walking Dead): Book Review


Ex-HeroesEx-Heroes, the new novel by Peter Clines, is a new and fascinating zombie story. The twist here is that there are also superheroes helping to fight the undead. What impressed me the most about this blend is how well done it was. The superheroes are better able to handle the shambling horde, but they are not immune, and occasionally they are less help than an armed civilian. The story that emerges takes its cues from comics and horror, without losing track of what makes either of them succeed.

I should mention that the horror here is more Aliens than Alien, but it never approaches Alien: Resurrection levels of unscariness. Similarly, the superheroes are more Spider-Man 2 than Iron Man. The point is, neither the horror elements nor superhero elements are genre-shattering examples, but both are worthy additions to the field. The real joy of this book is in that mix.

There is something satisfying about the idea of superheroes trying to identify and contain a zombie outbreak. Spoiler, they don’t. The result is a weird book that does as good a job showing the strain that those with great power must face as it does showing how routine horror can be. This is the reason that I enjoyed this book.

I really enjoyed the writing. The style hid in the background and let the story hold my attention. It takes a certain amount of confidence in the plot and characters to let the writing be invisible like this. This is exactly the style that I prefer when reading something that is so plot-driven.

Speaking of the plot, there were nice, long sections that did as much to show how life works in this nightmare as they did to advance the story. In fact, most every scene works to advance the plot or to show a crucial bit of backstory. These flashbacks are vital, because the story starts well into the survival phase of this apocalypse. (So, I guess that wasn’t really a spoiler.) Honestly, this next bit might be the most important part of this review. Everything in this book is devoted to keeping the story interesting and exciting. Also, everything does its job.

If I had to nitpick, I would say that there are a few twists that might have been more interesting if they happened earlier. I would have liked to experience the consequences of those twists a little more, but, man, that is a tiny issue. The only other thing is that the heroes in this book felt a little too close to the superheroes we invent in middle school, which doesn’t bother me too much. The thing is, most of the heroes in this book were also pretty inventive, so I can’t hold that against them at all. Ultimately, I really enjoyed this and think it’s worth checking out. If you are looking for a different take on zombies or superheroes, this is an easy recommendation.

Four Flying Zombies out of Five




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