Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Best of The Legion Outpost

A Review by Russell "Bilingual Boy" Burbage
The Best of The Legion Outpost is a time capsule. Open it up and it will show you the state of the Seventies and Eighties Legion of Super-Heroes.

The Legion Outpost was a fanzine (a fan-produced magazine/newsletter) that was printed and distributed for ten issues. It began with a letter by then-13 year old Mike Flynn that was printed in Superboy #182 (Feb '72) asking for fans to join his Legion of Super-Heroes Fan Club. From that letter Mike "met" dozens and then hundreds of other Legion fans. One of them was Harry Broetjes, who was then a freshman at Northwestern University's School of Journalism. He could facilitate the printing of a 200+ magazine, so he become the Editor.

For nine issues The Outpost ran articles, reviews, interviews, and fan art all about the Legion of Super-Heroes. Initially they wanted to share their Legion Love, and bother DC enough to get the Legion their own book again. (At the time they were hovering in the back of Superboy.) During their nine issues they got what they wanted, and made many, many friends along the way. Their tenth and last issue was six years after issue nine; it was a commemorative Final Issue, as the contributors had moved on to other endeavors, but wanted to close the door on their work with style. In these days of emailing and blogging, it's almost impossible for people to understand the effort it must have taken to write, draw, edit, publish, and distribute such a fanzine. Full disclosure: as a teen-ager I worked with friends to put out a Teen Titans fanzine, but the effort failed because of our overall lack of commitment. So I am especially impressed by these guys.  

The Legion Outpost enjoyed recognition from the professionals. Pick up a few Superboy issues from that era and you're liable to come across letters from the contributors and a mention of the fanzine itself. Cary Bates, Jim Shooter, editor Murray Boltinoff, and artist Dave Cockrum all agreed to be interviewed by these kids. Shooter was tracked down by these kids and re-introduced to DC, bringing him back into the world of comics! Cockrum provided them art. Legion Fan Club member Neal Pozner put together a comprehensive review of all the Legionnaires for an issue of The Outpost, but when DC heard about it they bought the whole issue and published it as The Amazing World of DC Comics #9 (the Legion issue). And possibly coolest of all, Mike Flynn and Harry Broetjes were immortalized in an actual issue of Superboy (#209) as uber-Legion fan Flynt Brojj.

So now you know what you need to know to appreciate this book. And maybe you can understand what I mean when I say that reading the articles in this collection is very much like traveling back in time. Set your time bubble to 1972 and read how fans are anxious about Dave Cockrum's efforts at updating the Legionnaires' uniforms. Or how the fans were anxious about which Legionnaires were going to be leaving (Duo Damsel & Bouncing Boy, it turned out). There is an argument Pro vs Con on the merits of The Adult Legion. There is an interview with Roy Thomas he gives just as he started working on the series. (I read this with a huge grin on my face, as I know he only lasted on the series for a handful of issues before he begged off. It was interesting to read that his take on Legionnaire Blok was the same as mine, though.) The reader who designed Saturn Girl's bikini costume pens his regrets (although of all the costume changes that came after hers, hers was probably the worst). A fan discusses the astrological signs of the characters per the 1976 DC Calendar that included their birthdays. There is an in-depth article about the Legion of Super-Pets...which is a comment that I never thought I would write. And there is plenty of great Legion art. Most of it appears to be convention sketches or private commissions that you can't see anywhere else.
One of the reasons I wanted to read this book is because as a reader of the Legion from the
mid-Seventies, I *had* heard of The Legion Outpost. I had always been interested in this mysterious publication I had heard about, but that I was too young or too dis-connected to ever actually read. So I enjoyed this trip back in time to the future very much. If you are a Legion fan like me, specifically of the Pre-Zero Hour Pre-Crisis Legion, you, too, will enjoy this book. Who wouldn't want to know that all the creative types hated Matter-Eater Lad as much as I did, but that the editor didn't want to get rid of him? If you're not a fan of this era, though, or of books about the history of comics, or behind the scenes activities, this book is probably not for you.
The reason I wanted to review this book is because in a very real way, the fans behind The Legion Outpost are our fore-fathers. Comic-book fandom has gone viral, and fanzines are now blogs. We here at The Legion of Super Bloggers love the Legion; that much should be obvious. Like the fans of The Legion Outpost we want to share our love with our fellow fans and want to get the Legion their own comic (again). Also, we want to convince new fans to appreciate the grandness of the future, too, so that when the Legion does get its book (back), there will be enough people reading it to make it a success. So speaking on behalf of all of us Super Bloggers, we are honored to be following in the cyber footsteps of The Legion Outpost.

You can purchase this book directly from the publisher while supplies last. Go to the site and then search "Legion Outpost."  www.twomorrows.com

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