This UK kids Magazine is produced by Panini, and it's a companion to the Spectacular Spider-Man (UK Magazine) produced by the same guys.
The new "Spider-Man & Friends" range is based around Spider-Man, his cousin Spider-Girl, plus Hulk and Wolverine, though there's plenty of guest appearances. You should be able to find plenty of Spider-Man & Friends toys still in the shops, the style is a western/manga cross, and the target group is the 3-9 year old market.
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 with a much younger target audience.
"It's the summer fair at Spider-Man's school. Everyone is enjoying themselves." And with that caption, we're off again on another wonderful Spidey and Friends adventure!
Thing and Hulk are trying the "test your strength" machine. Hulk is strongest one there is. He wins a PlayStation console. But some "nasty boy" steals his prize! Ruh-roh! That wasn't a smart move, nasty boy!
Spider-Man's Spider-Sense alerts him to the theft, but he fails to web the boy as he runs down the steps. Not very good shooting, Spidey! The boy laughs. Not sure why - he's in a power of shit, he just doesn't know it yet. Trip! Crash! The boy falls down the stairs. Spidey rescues...
...the console. Yeah, good one web-head. Leave the scumbag to his fate, rescue the console, or Hulk become angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.
The thief has a sore arm. So Spidey swings him through the park. Umm... swings? Swings with a guy with a broken arm? Do you have any idea what sort of G-force is generated while web-swinging? And how do you web-swing through a park anyhow, the trees just ain't tall enough. Seriously, do the math - it ain't possible.
Ehem. Moving on. They're at the hospital - a "building where lots of doctors work". Well, I think if you do a count, you'll find it's a building where lots of cleaners, cooks, and support staff work. Secondly it's where lots of nurses work. Third in the "lots" count, you'll find some doctors.
The doctors look at the boy's arm with an X-Ray machine.
Woah! What country are we in now? Canada? New Zealand? Sweden? When did we leave the United States. Because, believe me, the first thing any U.S. hospital asks is "who is going to pay for this, juvenile delinquent, or kid in costume with no wallet?" Public health care ain't a thing in the good old U.S. of A, and it ain't kind to fool kids into believing that it is.
In fact, the first thing the kid is gonna do in the U.S. is call a lawyer and sue Spidey's ass. Vigilante breaks kids arm? That's gotta be worth a few million. Sue the guys who run the fair, they'll have insurance. Of course, there won't be a fair next year, but that's the American Way!
I seem to have gotten off the track here somewhere. Let's put aside the woeful state of the Healthcare and Legal systems in Spidey's home nation, and get back to the "real" story. The kid gets a plaster cast, and Spidey signs it "Get Well Soon... you thieving douchebag."
OK, I made up the douchebag thing.
The kid says: "I'll never take anything that isn't mine again."
So, the moral of the tale is. It's OK if people's arms get broken, as long as they are criminals. Sorry... alleged criminals. Nothing gets proven in a court of law in this story.
No, wait, that's not the moral. The moral is... the only way to make a criminal truly repentant, is to break his bones.
No, that's not it either. Hmm... sorry, I don't think I can figure out the moral of the story this time. It's beyond me.
As well as this four-page story, there's a page of ads from BigRedWarehouse, a little comprehension quiz, some letter tracing, some super-hero heads to draw (with coloring guide), and a two-page coloring spread (with coloring guides).
Then there's a "draw The Thing" page, an "odd one out" puzzle, more letter tracing and "j" practice. Match the speech balloons to the hero, join the dots, a maze, a "spot the difference" puzzle, a competition to win a Spidey figure, and two pages of letters and fan art/photos. Finally, Wolverine is the back-cover poster this time.
This is probably the weakest of the stories I've seen so far from this magazine. In the attempt to add a moral, or real life touch, they've completely broken the magic which surrounded these tales up until now.
One and a half webs for this confused and misguided story. I hope this is a one-off, and we'll soon see a return to the silly, harmless antics which have made the title such a blast up to this point.