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 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.
I get my copies held for me in the UK, and shipped out once a year or so. This is the first issue in a whole new batch of Spidey & Friends goodness!
Spider-Man is having a birthday. He receives lots of cards! Then all of his friends arrive for the party.
They all bring presents. A light-up robotic pencil case from Iron Man. A book on "Bugs" from Spider-Girl (think about it). A weather vane from Storm, etc. A U.S.A. flag from Captain America. Somebody has also brought a cake with a sparkling candle on top... but we don't get to find out who.
Last but not least, the Hulk arrives with a massive present. It's a giant green trampoline!
"This is the bounciest birthday I've ever had," Spidey laughs.
We learn a few new things about Spidey in this issue. From what I can tell, Spider-Man lives alone in a house, despite the fact that he still attends kindergarten. Also, he sleeps in a bed with red-and-blue covers, and a giant bug-shaped headboard. Plus, he's very popular!
This is another wacky issue from Rik Hoskin and Nigel Dobbyn. Any story featuring a trampoline big enough for Hulk and five friends to bounce at the same time has got to be a good story!