Of all the unlikely cross-overs I expected to see I never really banked on a Star Wars/zombie experiment to happen. The Marvel heroes did it, but then again, they also did a story line where they turned all their characters into monkeys. Here’s hoping SW doesn’t follow in their footsteps…though if they turn Chewie into a super suave, well spoken human while Luke and Han are reduced to chimps–or better yet, Kowakian monkey-lizards–then I might be talked into giving it a try.
But back to the topic at hand–Star Wars: Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber. I was admittedly pretty skeptical going into this. First off this was the first Star Wars novel I’ve read since probably the seventh grade. Combine that with the whole zombies in a galaxy far, far away thing and I was damn worried that this would scare me away from my little rediscovery project before it even got started. I was, much to my liking, proven wrong.
Schreiber, it turns out, is an actual horror writer. Instead of going to one of the endless number of writers already in the Star Wars stable and see if they can be scary–which maybe they can–they went with a guy whose job is to scare folks with prose. It all paid off surprisingly well. Death Troopers was both a wildly entertaining and refreshing read. Even having not read anything from the Expanded Universe in over a decade It seems like most of it still seems to revolve around Luke, Han and Leia all doing the same stuff to save the galaxy from evil, restore democracy and rebuild the Jedi order. Maybe I’m wrong on that–and I’m hoping to find out if I am or not over the course of the next several months–but Death Troopers struck me as being so different, dare I say near-wacky in its premise, that it almost had to be a blast to read just by simply existing.
The scares weren’t anything to keep me awake at night, but right from the get-go Schreiber built one nail-biting scene after another. A lot of bluffs, false starts and unexpected spooks made it a fast, fun read. I couldn’t help but think of it as zombies by way of Alien/Aliens set on a Star Destroyer. These zombies were fast, aggressive and intelligent, much like the xenomorphs in the Alien films. And what was most surprising about the whole experience was that just as you’d expect from something with zombies it was absolutely gross! Seriously, this was one of my biggest worries about it: what happens to the gore and the gratuitous violence that comes with a zombie story when its set within the all-ages world of Star Wars? Thankfully the answer to that question was “nothing happens to it,” and to be honest I shouldn’t have given it much thought considering that the cover is what ultimately sold me on picking up a copy:
So, for my first step back into the Star Wars mythos I gotta say I picked a good one. There are certainly some fun things going on in the galaxy and if this is any indication as to the sort of creative freedom writers get to exercise then I’m looking more forward to it than I was in the first place. Haven’t quite settled on what my next homework assignment will be–sort of leaning towards the Star Wars: Legacy comics, but please give suggestions if you have any–but I know for sure that once I give myself a little free time from this I’ll dive into Mr. Schreiber’s non-SW horror work.
‘Til next time, Yodas and Yaddles!