Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson is an MMA fighter turned actor, most significantly appearing as BA Baracus in the 2010 A-Team movie. This collection of seven stories sees a fictionalised version of Jackson brawl his way through a near-future sci-fi landscape, engaging in numerous punchouts with such B-movie fodder as robots, giant monsters, mad scientists, ninjas, aliens from the future, and zombie clones. Jackson himself has been imbued with a number of wolf-man powers after an encounter with a mysterious meteorite. It’s that kind of comic.
Although all this sounds like a lot of fun, there is a significant problem in the shape of the title character. Love him or hate him, real-life Jackson has an engaging and charismatic presence that is a large contributor to his popularity. His comic-book counterpart, on the other hand, is a bland caricature recognisable as the man himself only by appearance. If casting him in a comic book’s starring role is an attempt to capitalise on his recognisability, then at the very least there could have been some effort made to incorporate his actual personality into the character.
Each story is a largely self-contained tale driven by fast and intense (albeit largely bloodless) carnage, the plot usually just a set up for an extended fight sequence ending with some flat witticisms. The resultant tone is something akin to a Saturday morning kid’s cartoon from the mid-90s. The stories are given a tenuous link in a shady biotech company with the totally-not-sinister-at-all name of Cataclysm who are researching the potential of the meteorite that gave Jackson his powers, and several promise the return of antagonists, often busty psychopaths of the kind of improbable proportions that are never going to go out of style.
The lacklustre writing is partially redressed by the vibrancy of the artwork. While not particularly imaginative in the panel layout, the art is bright and colourful and each frame is rich in contrast, from cosmic forces gathering in blinding explosions of primary colours to the tinted lettering of caption boxes.
Overall, Rampage Jackson: Street Soldier is at the very least entertaining, if not in any way deep or thoughtful. It’s interesting enough for what it is, but ultimately forgettable.
RAMPAGE JACKSON: STREET SOLDIER / WRITER & ARTIST: VARIOUS / PUBLISHER: LION FORGE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW