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 finally managed to acquire a copy of issue #1 of this magazine, so here's a catch-up review!
The Super-Friends have decided to spend the day at the beach.
Present are Spidey, Hulk, Captain America and Storm. Note that The Thing and Doctor Octopus are shown at the beach on the cover, but neither of them actually appear in the story.
Each of the friends want to do something different , but Spidey suggest that they all work together to build a huge castle, which they do. Strangely, the resulting castle is much taller than any of them can actually reach. There's no indication how this unusual feat is achieved. Storm is the only one able to fly, and she does so by rising on storm-force winds, which would have destroyed the castle.
Spider-Man shoots a webbing flag up to the top tower, and then the heroes turn their attention to filling the moat. Hulk tries to bring water in his hands, but to no avail. Captain America offers his shield as a dish to bring water, but Storm decides to make it rain.
Everybody is soaked and the sandcastle is ruined. But they all agree they've had fun.
This is a rather ordinary start to the series. Some of the later issues are wonderfully surreal, or bizarrely impossible. By contrast, this effort is a bit tame.
Even though there's nothing here for the grownups, I'll concede that this is a good story for the age group. Let's give it a solid three webs.