This UK kids magazine is one of three 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. Finally, their Marvel Heroes (UK Magazine) hits the same mid-teen crowd but with a video game/movie angle.
But let's get back to Spider-Man & Friends. It 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, plus in 2009 they produced a hardback annual.
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. It's similar to the formats used for the older kids' magazines, just pitched for a much younger target audience.
THE SUPER RACE! It's a sunny day. Spider-Man and his friends have taken their go-carts to the race track. "We'll have a race," says Spider-Man.
Well, thats an odd thing to do after taking your cars to the race track, but hey, it just might work. Spider-Girl doesn't get to race because she's just a girl, and Spider-Man is a Man. Iron Man, Thing and Silver Surfer are racing too. Surfer has the power cosmic and can travel between stars in an eyeblink, so he probably is odds-on at the bookies.
We are informed that "Spider-Man's go-cart is painted the same color as his Super Hero costume." Excellent. So are all the other go-carts, which makes it rather odd to point it out for Spidey. Maybe he's color blind so he didn't realize that his car was red and blue. Yeah, bet that's it. That's why they pointed out that his red and blue cart is the same as his red and blue costume.
Spider-Girl says READY STEADY GO and they all pedal as fast as they can. Spidey is winning! Then... YIKES! The Thing's car collapses, all the wheels fall off. That's because Thing weights like, two tons, and this some dumb kid's car. Spidey stops to help his friend. He webs the crippled chassis to the back of his car and drags it across the finish line. They both lose. But Spidey doesn't care because he helped his friend.
Sing with me... best Rolf Harris accents please!
Do you think I would leave you dying When there's room on my horse for two...
I think that... UGH! Hang on. BLECH! Damn!
Sorry about that. I just threw up a little in my mouth. Needed a swig of whiskey to get rid of the taste. Right, all better now.
Anyhow, the "message" of this issue is laded with a sickening heavy-handedness. But I'm not entirely sure what the moral we're supposed to take away might be. As far as I can tell it's... "Stick with your friends. You'll both lose, but hey, that's fine."
I'd always thought that the conclusion of such tales was supposed to be "stick by your friends and together you'll be victorious!" I'm really not sure about the whole "...learn to enjoy losing, kid - with friends like yours, you'll be doing a lot of that."
I know modern Western school philosophy has moved away from being "competitive". That's why the Chinese and Indians are kicking our asses in the marketplace. Personally, there's a word for people who don't care if they win or lose. Yeah. Losers!
"I don't care if I don't do as well as I might, as long as I helped my fellow man."
You know what that message is? That's SOCIALISM! Head down that path, and before you know it you'll have comprehensive health care, effective social security and decent public education for all. Is that what you want? Is THAT WHAT YOU WANT? Because that's what those Nazi Liberals want!
I'm sorry. I just love my country. And I fear for it.
Usual "other" content brings the page count up to 24 (including inside/outside cover).
P.S. Iron Man won.