Rampage Vol. #01 - Mania.com

Manga Review

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translation Rating: C+
  • Age Rating: 17 and Up
  • Released By: CMX Manga
  • MSRP: 12.99
  • Pages: 202
  • ISBN: 978-1401224103
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: RAMPAGE

Rampage Vol. #01

Rampage Vol. #01 Manga Review

By Sakura Eries     March 08, 2010
Release Date: February 16, 2010

Rampage Vol. #01
© CMX Manga

An encounter with two mystical beings turns the Chinese wanderer Zhang Fei into a superhuman warrior!

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Yunosuke Yoshinaga
Translation: Sheldon Drzka
Adaptation: Sheldon Drzka

What They Say
China: 184 A.D., a time of great turmoil. Zhang Fei stumbles upon a slaughtered village and has a chance encounter that will change his life forever. Guan Yu, second in command of a volunteer army, recruits the brash but inexperienced young Zhang. The army's first duty is to repel an invasion of a walled city, and although Zhang misses most of that action, he has his own. As he saves the life of a little girl, an arrow to the neck throws him off a cliff. He is rescued my two wizards who give him the power to resist all wounds. Zhang is about to become the most powerful soldier in the army, but at a price that could cost him his soul!

The Review!

The front cover features the spear avatar possessed version of Zhang Fei splattered with blood. Behind him is the mysterious woman with the necklace he keeps running into. They stand against a backdrop of what looks like raining dirt, though given the content of this manga I'm surprised it isn't a rain of blood. The title in yellow and brown text is centered at the top, and the mangaka's name is centered at the bottom in yellow text against brown.
On the back cover is a color illustration of a chibi character in Chinese ceremonial armor bearing a spear against a reddish brown background. I'm not sure which character it is but if I had to guess I'd say it was Liu Bei. A synopsis takes up the left half of the cover. Publisher and age rating icons are placed at the bottom left along with genre and ISBN information.
Production of this title is a mixed bag. The binding of this A5 sized manga is stronger than what I've come to expect from CMX, but the cover stock feels flimsy. The print job is surprisingly crisp, even for the illustrations originally in color, and the opening page is printed in color. However, the text and formatting are sloppy; there are typos, including one in the cover summary, and pages are cut too close in places. 
184 A.D. China is in a state of turmoil. A group known as the Yellow Turban Army is rebelling against the corrupt Han Dynasty. The fighting's too much for the government to handle, and a formidable volunteer army, led by General Liu Bei, springs up to help suppress the rebels. 
Among the volunteer army's newest recruits is the young Zhang Fei. A former wanderer, Zhang Fei's first combat performance at Ji Castle is less than heroic. However, shortly thereafter, he rescues a little girl and receives a wound to the throat for his efforts. His life should end there, but Fate intervenes, placing him in the path of the two immortals that rule over life and death. The next thing he knows, his wounds are gone and he is in the possession of a mysterious spear. Stranger yet, the next time he steps into battle, darkness engulfs his senses. What’s going on?!
My copy of this manga has a bright red sticker that reads, "PARENTAL ADVISORY, EXPLICIT CONTENT," and rightfully so. Yoshinaga's artwork is meticulously rendered. Whether the scene is the lavish court of the Chinese officials, the bowels of a dungeon, or the turbulence of the battlefield, his illustrations deliver impact, and considering much of the story takes place in the midst of fighting, there is a lot of gore and blood flying around.
Not to say that Rampage is all hacking and slashing. There is a fair amount of political intrigue wrapped in the story. Unless you are well-versed in Chinese or Chinese history, the names and groups introduced in these first five chapters might take a while to get used to. The story is definitely geared towards a male audience though. In addition to all the action and adventure, there is a fair amount of fanservice. The first time Zhang Fei encounters the main female character, she's completely naked, and the third time they meet, she's topless.
In regard to the plot, the larger conflict taking place is that between the Han Dynasty and the Yellow Turban Rebels, but the personal tale unfolding is of Zhang Fei's struggle against the supernatural powers striving to possess him. His story begins much like a coming-of-age tale as the callow youth joins the volunteer army. However, things take an abrupt turn after his encounter with the immortals. The youth striving to become a man suddenly has the power to become much more than a man –at a cost. (The sequence when the avatar of the spear possesses Zhang Fei is reminiscent of the Incredible Hulk, the way his bulging muscles rip his shirt apart.) His struggle then becomes one of maintaining his humanity against the dark forces trying to possess him. Between his internal war and the external one, Rampage makes for an engaging read.
In Summary:
If you're looking for an epic period piece that's packed with action, Rampage is definitely worth a try. The Chinese names might take a bit getting used to, but it's got an engaging storyline and artwork to match. Be warned though -- Yoshinaga's battlefield depictions are graphic, spilled guts and popped eyeballs graphic.


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