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.
This month's story takes place up high in the mountains. Spider-Man, Spider-Girl and the Lizard are skiing in the Alps when an avalanche buries their ski chalet.
Spider-Man and Spider-Girl are keen to go and help rescue the victims buried under the snow. But the Lizard isn't keep to help because he is wearing lots and lots of clothing to keep warm (seeing as how he is cold-blooded).
The Lizard explains "No one will recognise me with all these clothes on, so they won't know that I rescued them."
The Spider-folk explain that being a real hero means you have to help people even if you don't get a medal. The Lizard is so inspired that he agrees to help, and with his assistance everybody is rescued.
In return the Lizard gets a cup of hot chocolate. That's better than a medal.
I don't want to suggest that the "moral" of this tale is rather intrusive. But it's about as subtle as a prostate exam from a doctor wearing ski gloves.
It's a shame really, since this magazine generally manages to slide its message through without hammering it home. But this one is really a bit short on lubricant.
Not only that, but it doesn't even make sense. The Lizard has his face, tail and hands exposed, as well as having bare legs below the knee. So (a) he isn't particularly protected from the cold, and (b) the odds are pretty good that even an avalanche victim will have enough presence of mind to realized that he's just been rescued by a crocodile standing on hind legs.
Not their finest work, sadly. Misses on every point.
One and a half webs.