Ex-Heroes: A great series of  Super-Heroes v. Zombies novels

Movie / Shambler / Years After the Apocalypse

What comics fan hasn’t asked themselves, Who would win a fight between Superman or the Hulk? By the same token, what comics or zombie fan hasn’t wondered how the cape types would fare against the walking dead if it ever came to that.

From 2013 to 2016, novelist Peter Clines had a hell of a good time answering that question while building a whole pantheon of convincing stretch-suiters along the way, in a series of novels from Broadway Books that are, quite basically, Superheroes vs. Zombies taken to the logical extreme. It's called the Ex-Heroes Series.

They’re fast, frequently funny, often bloody and both exciting and tragic, as we follow the superheroes who fight a losing battle against the hordes of the shambling dead and their extremely noisy teeth – your basic virus-based biters that have taken over whole cities, whole countries, and left the last few humans cowering behind a dwindling number of walled compounds. Many of the characters continue from book to book – books with totally cool names like Ex-Patriots, Ex-Communciation, and our personal favorite, Ex-Purgatory. And plenty more die heroic and occasionally pointless deaths. There’s no true ending to the timeline, and we can always hope for more, though Clines has gone on to best-seller status with his non-zombie-ish Threshold series. Still, you can spend plenty of happy hours following the dark adventures of Stealth, Zzzap, The Mighty Dragon, and the rest.

Pretty much anything by Peter Clines is worth the read. You can check out his full repertoire here. Exactly what you’d expect from the one-time prop master of Psycho Beach Party.

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A Gearpunk Alternative History,with Zombies

Book (Series) / Long After the Outbreak / Underrated

Zombies aren’t limited to a single timeline...and terrific authors like Cherie Priest can make them horribly real in any reality.

Take Boneshaker’s world, for instance. In this universe, in the early days of the Civil War, an inventor named Leviticus Blue (Priest always comes up with the coolest character names) creates a huge machine that can drill right through the Alaska permafrost and bring gold up to the surface of the Klondike… except the Incredible Bone-Shaking Drill hits a cavern filled with very bad gas that blasts a crater into the middle of Seattle and transforms much of the populace into “rotters” (yet another cool name for zombies. We have to make a list someday). The government, in its wisdom, solves the problem by building a wall around the devastated city and abandoning it. But that doesn’t mean it disappears.

Cut to sixteen years later, as Priest relates the adventures of the heroes, villains, and monsters who scrape out a living in the remains of Seattle – outside the wall and occasionally inside the wall. The story is filled with great speculative history, action, awesome devices, and some of the smartest and most admirable female characters in zomfic. It may be the first, and one of the best, examples of steampunk fiction – and maybe the only zombie steampunk fiction around.

Best of all, Boneshaker is only the first of Priest’s five-book series, The Clockwork Century, and every one of them is better than the last. And this first book – all of them, actually – also has one of the coolest covers around.

Come on. Zombies and dirigibles. What more could you want?

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