Rampage was a UK-only Comic/Movie/Teen-Geek-Pop magazine that covered video games, Marvel, Star Trek, Star Wars, Pokemon, the latest Disney movies and whatever else the team at Panini thought might interested teens that month. In keeping with the eclectic mix of content, it also featured a rather cluttered style that reminds me of a rich kid's bedroom. Expensive consumer crap piled deep from dresser to carpet and pouring out of the cupboard.
The title ran for around thirty-odd issues, before folding in 2007. The UK teen Marvel consumer magazine mantle was subsequently picked up in 2008 by Marvel Heroes (UK Magazine), which while still quite consumer-oriented was markedly cleaner in style and more Marvel-specific in content.
My "Rampage" collection is pretty patchy, but I did manage to pick up this back issue from UK eBay. Spidey appears in the lead story, with an odd little cameo in the backup story too!
This first tale is from the pen of Roger Stern, a Marvel scripter from way back with a solid run on Amazing Spider-Man to his credit. If anybody knows what to do with a Spidey story, surely Roger can make something work.
Peter Parker is on the streets of New York, eating a hot dog. His Spider-Sense alerts him to the passing overhead of The Vulture. A man living on the streets asks for a handout, and Peter gives him half his dog before racing off to change into Spidey, offending the homeless man by his stinginess.
Peter becomes Spidey, and follows the Vulture to... Empire State University, Peter's own campus. The Vulture is seeking to steal a newly arrived piece of research technology, the "Stark E-M 3000 Nanoscope" which is being tested by... none other than Doctor Curtis Connors. Spidey disturbs the Vulture in mid-theft. The Vulture shoots at Spidey, but misses, and is webbed-up for his troubles.
But that's not the end of the battle. The well-prepared Vulture breaks free thanks to his Teflon-coated wings and a handy vial of acid. The Vulture then grabs the "nanoscope" and adjusts it to become a hand-held weapon. Spidey dodges the blast, grabs the scope, and destroys it. Connors is stunned by the blast, and as Spider-Man attends to his scientist pal, the Vulture grabs the opportunity to flee empty-handed.
This six-page story left me utterly dissatisfied. It contained nothing of any substance at all. Sure, there's a cast of half-a-dozen people, two locations, and one scientific MacGuffin. But it all adds up to nothing it all.
Further, the story was overworked with a number of meaningless coincidences. What was the significant of setting the story at ESU? So that Doctor Connors (and his assistant) could appear? But equally, why involve Doctor Connors, he had no actual involvement with the story.
And what of the disgruntled hobo at the start of the tale. Was this some kind of moral comment, or just a chance to show some of Peter's famous bad luck? Like... he's so unlucky, that even crack-addicts are offended by his handouts? Not sure what we're supposed to take away from that concept.
The footnote implores us to "Watch for [Spidey's] further adventures in the next issue of Rampage." Does that mean that something interesting will actually happen next issue? If so, then what a cop-out. Even when your story is serialized into six-page chunks, you still need something each issue to pique the reader's interest. Ain't nothing here that qualifies on that count.
A tragic disappointment. Excellent artwork can do nothing to fill the empty void that occupies the space where the heart of this story should have been found.