Best of the Legion Outpost (2005)

The Legion Outpost is one of the oldest and most well-respected of all the comics fanzines. In 2004, as a sister title to their Legion Companion volume, TwoMorrows released an anthology of the best articles from the legendary zine. What is presented has some good, some bad and some odd aspects to it.
Like all good fanzines, The Legion Outpost was driven in great part by passion and enthusiasm for the subject matter. Legion fans are justifiably famous for their love and encyclopedic knowledge of the longtime series. Thus we get articles such as an article about politics on the planet Bismoll (home of Matter-Eater Lad, don’tcha know?) or a look at the astrological signs of the heroes. While those articles are fun, a little of them go a long way for the casual fan.
The nicest feature of the book is the plethora of commissioned art presented. The book includes art by such luminaries as Curt Swan, Dave Cockrum, Walt Simonson, George Perez, Sergio Aragones and many more. It’s a joy to see all this wonderful art, and it really enlivens the book.
The low point of the book to me are some of the interviews. While some, like the interview with Jim Shooter, are very revealing, others are obscure and impossible to follow for the non-initiate. For instance, there’s a nine-page interview with Roy Thomas. Thomas is a great and important figure in comics history, but he wrote maybe a half dozen Legion stories. What purpose is served by running a long interview with such an unimportant figure in Legion history?
The interview with longtime Legion editor Mort Weisinger is disappointing in a different way. Weisinger seems defensive about his long editing career, taking great pains to defend himself against fan criticism of his work. It’s a strange interview; I imagine a grandfatherly Weisinger lecturing youthful interviewer Matt Lage while Lage makes complaining faces behind Weisinger’s back. It’s not that Lage is disrespectful; it’s more that Weisinger clearly has his own agenda and bitterness about some aspects of his career.
In the end, a lot of the material presented in BOLO is as obscure as it could possibly be. The interviews with pros are fun in an "inside comics" way, but there’s just not a lot that crosses over to the non-Legion fan. A little bit more context would have helped a lot. Perhaps a time line of Legion history in the comics would have helped; I’m a casual Legion fan and but there was a lot of material in this book for which I just didn’t have any context.
With all my complaints, this is still a 3½ bullet book due to the passion of the contributors and the nice art that’s presented. If you’re a Legion fan, you probably already have and love this book. If you’re not, your mileage might vary.

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