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.
This issue, in "Beast's Story Time", Spider-Man and Iron Man have joined Captain America on the beach to play catch. With Captain America's shield, naturally. The one that wounded and killed many S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who attempted to learn to use it, following the recent death of the mainstream Captain America.
Iron Man fumbles a catch, and the shield spins off into the sea where it floats away. Yes, it floats. Iron Man and Spider-Man head off into the sea to rescue it. For some reason, Captain America doesn't go to get his own shield. Seems like he doesn't like getting wet.
Hmm... three kids playing on the beach, unsupervised. Their toy is swept away. They decide to swim out and get it. Now THAT's a good water safety message to give to pre-schoolers!
Spider-Man doesn't like water, so he makes a diving bell. An umbrella thing which... does absolutely nothing to stop him getting wet! Iron Man's suit is waterproof and has a built in torch.
The heroes swim down far below the surface. They see something sparkly, it looks like gold! It is gold! It's a sunken ship! Spider-Man is using his diving bell to trap air so he can breathe, his head is in the bell while his body gets wet. Fair enough, but how on EARTH can he get enough weight to sink the diving bell! It contains a huge amount of air!
Not only that, the wreck they find with the treasure is down very deep, it looks like about forty yards down at least. Just how far off shore did that shield fly? The shield has sunk now, by the way. It's sitting right next to a half-open chest of treasure which is on the deck of the ship. After centuries under the water, the gold still glistens. It's not corroded at all.
Captain America gets the message (how did he get signaled) to pull in the diving bell (with a thousand pounds of heavy gold bullion, rather heavy). He pulls on the webbing connected to the top of the bell (it wasn't there in the earlier pictures) and hauls everything to shore. Spider-Man is so tough he doesn't need to undergo staged decompression, apparently.
The heroes take the coins to the local museum curator. He adds them to the exhibits. The coins are hundreds of years old. The curator suggest the ship was sunk by pirates. Not very good ones, since they left the chest of gold sitting on the deck of their ship! But anyhow, the boys play pirates all afternoon.
What a silly story! And how charming! Despite the brain-curdling logic gaps in the plot, this one has all the elements for a great pre-school story. Pirates! Treasure! Diving! OK, perhaps we could have added a space-ninja riding a dinosaur, but we only have four pages to work with here.
Bad, but really quite good. After a bit of a run of disappointing stories, here's one that's finally hitting the spot once more. I'm going to give it an above-par three and a half webs.