For a few years now, UK-based Spidey fans have had a title all of their own - Spectacular Spider-Man (UK) Magazine. A Kids' Magazine, Spectac (UK) features nuthin' but Spidey, including an 11-page original story in every issue. Inspired by his success, Spidey is spring-boarding into another regular UK appearance in "Rampage", a new magazine for older kids with a focus on console games, TV shows, movies, and all the other cool ways that today's young generation spend time and money.
At least the first few stories in Rampage are being created by some of the same guys who work on the current Spectacular (UK) Magazine tales. That means that the stories have a similar look and feel, with two major exceptions: Firstly, the stories are shorter, normally one or two six-page stories rather than an 11-pager. Secondly the slightly older audience permits more violence and aggression in the story and art.
This seven page X-Men story opens in the middle of the action. So much so that I can't help but wonder that it isn't reprinting the second part of a two-part tale (though not recently in this title). But we get a full re-cap in any case, so we won't miss out on the back history.
Wolverine and Colossus have been drugged (by a sneak gas-bomb attack at the X-Mansion), then kidnapped and dragged to an underground arena. They quickly discover their captor's identity... the one and only Arcade!
Arcade has also kidnapped Kitty Pryde, aka Shadowcat. He has placed a power-disabling collar on her neck, installed her into a nearby glass box, and is threatening to press a button which will decapitate her if the two male heroes do not fight to the death to entertain viewers on his new pay-per-view TV show.
With no other choice, the heroes engage in combat, but it's all just a play for time. Colossus picks the right moment, then hurls Wolverine through the plexi-glass into Arcade's private viewing booth to tackle the villain. But Wolverine is too slow to prevent Arcade from pushing the button which activates the neck-chopping robot who will momentarily decapitate a powerless Shadowcat.
Colossus has one last chance. He hurls a scrap of metal through the glass case containing Kitty Pryde, and with perfect aim to smash her collar. This happens just in time to allow her to phase away from the axe. It's all very fortuitous.
I really would like to enjoy these silly little stories. I know they're aimed at the lower common denominator, and they're working within a very restrained format. But even so, the utter predictable and linear nature of these tales leaves nothing to appreciate other than barely passable artwork, and insipid dialogue.
With a heavy sigh, I must toss this one into the basket of disappointment, along with so many other of this title's offerings. One and a half web.
Note also, the rest of the filler material in Rampage is significantly over-commercialised compared to the other UK Marvel titles.
Firstly, there's a lot of advertisements. But even much of the "content" is also "advertorial" in nature. There are competitions promoting new products, and reviews of new products. A "movie facts file" is a not-very-subtle promo for the various DVDs. It's wall-to-wall marketing in here, and that ain't pretty!