For many middle-school children, math is a real challenge. It is at this age that the concepts begin to get more abstract, and work goes beyond "concrete" ideas like adding and subtracting. It's no surprise that at this age, math can become something the student avoids, or begins to dislike.
These students have weak immediacy. This means that compared to other students, they are slow to come up with the right answers to basic math problems like 6 x 8, or 35 divided by 7. While other kids have the answer stored in their memory, these kids do not. This causes big problems when they try to work through the more complex problems they encounter in junior high math.
My students are engaged in the activity because they are always eager to find out what the next scene will be, and how the math problems will be nestled within. They also like how within each handout I inscribe the title in a way that fits with the theme of that particular scene - another attention catching technique. And since this review activity only takes about fifteen minutes of class time, it is quick yet extremely beneficial.
As a middle-school math teacher, I have seen many students who do understand abstract concepts, and even enjoy learning about things like Pi and the Pythagorean Theorem, but who appear to be unable to do so due to a weak grasp of math fundamentals.