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 springboarding 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 only half the length (six pages story plus one page character profiles) and secondly the slightly older audience permits more violence and aggression in the story and art.
Spidey is swinging through the city when he spots Carnage. Surprisingly Carnage ignores Spidey - he's off on other business, and we soon learn what that involves. Nick Fury and SHIELD have got the Hulk pinned down, and the Carnage symbiote wants a piece of the Big Green Guy. Specifically, the symbiote wants to abandon Kasady and "possess" the Hulk. It does so.
Carnage-Hulk makes with the destruction, leaving Spidey and Fury somewhat on the back foot. Desparate, Spidey heads off to visit Venom in prison. Brock isn't keen to help, but the innocents must be protected, and so he offers Spidey some advice.
Following Venom's advice, Spidey and Fury attack the Hulk, provoking him to a gamma-powered rage which the symbiote just can't stomach. Then, with the symbiote gone, Fury orders in the Hulk-buster bombs, and KO's Hulk leaving only Banner. The day is saved in six pages.
It must be very hard to write a six page Spidey story. Writer Ferg Hadley does a great job within the constraints of the medium. It's a pocket-sized tale, but it packs a decent punch. Penciller John Royle brings in some great art, and the whole thing is really very good stuff - far better than you might expect for a magazine that honestly looks like a bit of a quick opportunistic grab for some discretionary teen-dollars.
While the story is only six pages, there's actually also a "Fact Page" that gives quick bio's on the key characters in the story, so there's seven pages of Spidey material altogether. If you're buying for a young Spidey fanatic, you probably want to stick with the "Spectacular (UK) Magazine" which is 100% Spidey, but for tweenies with far too much cash, there's probably a niche for this kind of product.
An impressive effort, given the intrinsic challenges of writing a short story like this for a mixed-product magazine. A highly-commended four webs is in order, methinks.
Backup story "Demons on Your Doorstep!" features the Fantastic Four.