As an occasional visitor to the UK, there's not normally that much extra for me to pick up over there that I can't get from my regular US-fed comic shop. But there are a few bonus Spidey-books that are peculiar to the British Isles. There's the hardcover Spider-Man UK Annual books, and... the UK-only Spidey/Marvel magazines.
The UK Spidey magazines are produced by Panini. First and foremost among those is Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine), now up to issue one hundred and fifty-something. Then there's the very recent kid brother, the delightful Spider-Man & Friends (UK Magazine). But a while back, this offering popped up... "Rampage".
Rampage appears to be aimed at an audience perhaps a couple of years older than Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine). There's a slightly grungy, deliberately-messy feel to Rampage, compared to the relatively clean and bright look of the Spectacular Mag.
While Rampage features the occasional Spider-Man story, that's only a small part of the line-up. Rampage also covers Movies, TV Shows, Computer Games, plus a bunch of other toys and gadgets. Rampage is definitely the more commercial of the magazines, with a good dose of advertisements, TV schedules, and promotional competitions.
The creative team from Rampage seems to cycle through the same basic list of UK creative talent that produces the Spidey stories for Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine), so it's perhaps not surprising that the look and feel of the Spider-Man stories is very similar between them.
This issue features two short stories. First up, Spider-Man faces the Lizard in a tale entitled "Big Lizard on Campus!" In a departure from the norm, this UK-mag story is actually written by a recognized U.S. mainstream Spider-Man writer, Roger Stern.
Our tale opens at Empire State University. Peter Parker drops in on his bio-chemistry professor, Doctor Curt Connors, who we all know as... the Lizard. Peter wanted to talk to Connors about the massive student protest that is taking place outside, but Connors is too busy freaking out. And we all know what that means!
Apparently, Connors is suffering a reaction from an electro-magnetic pulse he received recently when Spider-Man fought the Vulture. That makes me suspect that this tale might be part two of an ongoing story. Unfortunately I haven't yet managed to find a copy of issue #8. But for our purposes, it's enough to know that some recent event has (unsurprisingly) triggered Curt's reptilian transformation.
Dashing out of the lab, Peter promptly changes to Spider-Man mode, and sprints back into the room just in time to stop the Lizard from destroying the cache of Lizard antidotes that Connors thoughtfully keeps handy. But before Spidey can administer said remedy, the Lizard takes the fight on the run. The battle first crashes its way through the student protest. TV cameras record the fracas live, allowing the Vulture to observe the events on his screen at home - but more of that later.
The fight then crashes its way to the back alleyways, where Spidey manages to pin the Lizard for a moment, but the intrusion of an overzealous security guard accidentally foils the web-head's attempt to shove the antidote down Lizzy's throat. In the confusion, the Lizard escapes to the sewers, and Spider-Man is obliged to follow the trail... to next issue!
If you want to achieve anything in six pages, you have to plan quite carefully.
In one sense, Stern's tale does manage to make some "progress"... in that it changes scene through four different locations. But on the other hand, there's nothing here other than "Lizard plot formula #1" with an extra side of "running around".
Good art work, capable scripting... but the same old Lizard plot we've seen a dozen times before.
Two webs for now.