This UK kids magazine is one of two regular Spidey magazine offerings from Panini. Spider-Man & Friends targets the 4-10 year old market, while sister publication Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) aims at the pre-teen and teen crowd.
Spider-Man & Friends features a distinctively drawn semi-Manga style kiddie Spider-Man, his cousin Spider-Girl, plus early school versions of Hulk, Wolverine, Beast, Storm and Captain America along with guest appearances from many other big name Marvel heroes and villains. Toy tie-ins are also available.
Published every four or five weeks, this UK magazine features a toy taped to the front of each issue. Inside you'll find a four page Spidey & Friends story with three panels per page, captions of 8-20 words per panel. Then there's some nice simple kids puzzles, some coloring, a couple of competitions, and a page or two of Spidey merchandise. Essentially, it's the same format as the older kids magazine, just reworked for a much younger target audience.
Today... "The Broken Lighthouse!". Spider-Man, Cyclops and Iron Man are playing on the beach when dark clouds appear in the sky. "It's going to rain," Spidey says. No shit Sherlock! In fact we can see it's already raining the distance.
Cyclops notices that the bulb on the nearby lighthouse has just popped. Time for some super-friend help? Yep, it seems to be. The heroes head on over, and the lighthouse keeper comes out (and stands out in the rain) to talk to the friends. Lighthouse keeper? Might as well say "Easter Bunny". The last manned lighthouse in the UK (North Foreland) went automatic in 1998. The U.S. has one single remaining manned lighthouse (Boston Light on Little Brewster Island) - and it ain't painted red and white like this one.
So clearly the lighthouse keeper is a fake... HE must be the criminal in the story. And since it involves the sabotage of shipping protection, it must be an act of terrorism. So... Mr. Lighthouse Keeper (if that is even your real name), are you going to confess so we can have a nice quick show trial and execute you? Or do we need to perform special rendition to a friendly dark ops "treatment" center overseas and run a nice stress position/sleep deprivation/mock execution course on your sorry little freedom-hating ass?
But the heroes are smart. They play it low-key, trying to figure out of he's the ringleader, or merely the trigger-man. Maybe there's a dirty nuke hidden in the basement. So they listen to his story and temporarily delay the opening of the can of whup-ass.
The lighthouse keeper explains that the replacement bulb is stuck in traffic.
Oh man, are you for real? Are you telling me that they don't carry a spare bulb in the lighthouse? Oh man... that's a ROFL! of the first order! So, while Spider-Man goes away to
capture the accomplice pick up the bulb... Iron Man and Cyclops use their light beams to warn away a boat that was heading near the rocks.
Unfortunately, when Cyclops looks at the boat, his eye beam smashes the fragile watercraft to smithereens, with the loss of all hands. No, not really. But let's just pause for a moment here and think together about the wisdom of using Cyclops' scarlet death-ray eye-beams for shining light at a ship. Have you thought about that? Are we both agreed on what a criminally stupid action this would comprise? Even more stupid than not carrying a spare light bulb in the lighthouse, perhaps? Well, perhaps.
Spider-Man turns up with the giant bulb. I don't know what kind of radioactive shit that bulb is full of, but it's already glowing as Spider-Man hands it over. See, I told ya there was a dirty bomb! Break out the water-board and the wet towels, Spider-Friends, it's time to get the truth out of that Al-Qaeda dirtbag!
Meanwhile, Iron Man's chest bulb is getting dim. Oh, stop it, stop it! Can't... breathe... stupidity... too much. I'm guessing Pepper Potts borrowed the "C" cells last night to run her buzz-buzz toys, and the tin-headed dip-switch forgot to put in a fresh pair in the suit when he got up this morning. It's tragic really. The guy's lack of stamina is nothing short of embarrassing. He's as short-lived as the after-show fame of the fourth-place getter in "Australia's Got Talent" . He lasts less time than you did last night with my mom. No, I mean me with your mom... Oh, snap. Fine, I suck at "your mom" jokes. Forget it... let's move on.
The lighthouse keeper gives Spider-Man his special hat. Just because.
I'm torn! In a story like this, sometimes the dumber it gets, the better it gets. But I think when all is said and done, this story passes through the "good by stupidity" zone, and heads right into the "stupid to the bone" end of the scale where it buries its stupid head in a big pile of stupidness.
Half a web for every time I had to slam my head against my monitor to force the story to bleed its way out of my ears where it could do no more damage. So, let's see what the slam-o-meter has to say. THUD... THUD... THUD. Pause. Hold head. Groan. Count.
One and... ouch... a half webs.