Spider-Man in Amazing Adventures

Background

We Spider-Man collectors come in many shapes and flavors. Most of us collect comics, while many also collect non-printed items like action figures and fast-food toys. But even among the mainstream "comic collectors" there is much variation. Many stick to comics, but some also collect Spider-Man books, magazines, coloring books, and so on.

I belong to one of the ranks of the even-more-obsessive who seek out "promotional comics" – comics (and magazines) that were not created and sold through the normal Marvel channels, but whose existence and distribution was instead motivated by some third-party seeking to use Spider-Man to promote their products, or advance some social goal.

This 1996 magazine entitled "Spider-Man in Amazing Adventures" is a strange mix of both. It was co-funded by the National Dairy Council & the U.S. Department of Education, and it is relatively hard to find in higher grades. A near mint copy could easily set you back a couple of hundred bucks.

Story 'Puzzles and Projects'

  Spider-Man in Amazing Adventures
Summary: Joint Project of National Dairy Council & U.S. Department of Education
Writer: Katy Dobbs
Advisor: Keith Manzella
Developer: Jacob Hill, Maxcine DeGouttes

The magazine is a standard 8" x 10⅞" height and width, but contains meager 16 pages of black and white newsprint content, plus the stapled-in gloss color poster which folds out to 16" x 21¾".

The pages feature simple crosswords, word-games, mad libs, and such-like, including a "do it yourself" story where you can give captions to an illustrated adventure featuring kids tidying up the park!

Let's consider the exciting theme of Page 3 for example. In five panels, Spider-Man swings home, drinks a glass of milk, then swings out again. Can you number the panels in the correct order? Do you want a glass of milk?

How about Page 7? Spider-Man visits Aunt May for dinner. Can you unscramble the letters "l i m k" to see what Aunt May served him?

General Comments

There's a not-so-subtle insult to comics implicit in the fact that this magazine exists at all. The conversation that lead to this book's creation must have gone something like this:

Government Educator: If we could get some crossword puzzles in here, then we could turn these evil brain-rotting Spider-Man comics into something that was actually GOOD for children!

Dairy Marketing Executive: With milk on every page, right?

The stated intention of this comic is to finally encourage kids to read and write: "Let's make literacy fun at last!" it wants to say.

But comic books have been doing that for decades, and they got along fine even without milk marketers and government specialists.

Overall Rating

This book manages to combine blatant self-promotion with a patronizing adult view of the world.

If I was a child, I would resent the implication that this would entertain me.

Two webs purely because it's a rare collectible promo comic book.