This UK kids magazine is one of two 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.
Spider-Man & Friends 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.
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 reworked for a much younger target audience.
"Spider-Man is very excited when he wakes up and sees that it has been snowing in the night." There's a thick layer of snow all around.
Well, hell yeah! I would be very excited too if that happened to me! Though the primary reason I'd be excited is that clearly either (a) some pretty severe climate change had come to pass, or (b) somebody had moved my house while I slept and relocated it somewhere above the snow-line. Either case would get me pretty wound up.
Spider-Man loves snow. (OK, there's a line from the Department of Redundancy Department). They all wrap up warm, go outside. Spidey gets a snowball in the face. Let's ignore for the moment the fact that a Hulk-hurled snowball would probably suffice to crush in a skull, brick wall, and/or pretty much any solid obstacle unfortunate enough to find itself in the devastating flight path.
Doc Ock is supposedly the best at throwing snowballs, because of his extra arms.
Really??!!! I'd rather take six point-plank Otto Octavius Specials to the face any day, rather than take a single long-distance Hulk-Hurled Holiday Hemorrhage to any other part of my body. And if we're really working out who is the BEST snowball fighter, surely Spidey's Spider-Sense would make him immune and totally untouchable! Yeah, calling Doc Ock the best of that bunch is a big call there, a biiiiig call.
Boring old Captain America tells the heroes to stop playing in the street. They head over to the park where they find Spider-Girl and Storm on their backs in the snow. Making snow angels! Get yer filthy minds out of the gutter!
Captain America's shield is requisitioned for use as a sled, but the whole gang is too heavy to slide together. So Cap gets the shield, and Spider-Man builds web-skis. I mean, seriously. Just stop and think for a second about the suitability of webbing for making skis. Does it share any single property in common with any material that might be appropriate in any way for constructing skis? Hell, why not make a car out of boiled spaghetti, or a pencil sharpener out of lark's vomit?
Hulk ignores the insanity of the spider-skis and decides to roll down the hill. He's covered in snow when he gets to the bottom. The heroes make a snow man, and Snow-Man and Snow-Hulk stand side by side.
Umm... that's your punchline, kids.
The rest of the book features the usual filler. Well, almost the usual filler. The single page of advertising for Spider-Man toys is replaced with a full page advertisement for a Panini "Thomas & Friends" sticker book. I guess it's the same amount of advertising in total, and I guess it's in-house advertising. I mean, it's not like they ripped out six pages of content and replaced it with fast food advertisements. But even so, it's non-Spidey content, and it was a bit of a shock to see it there.
Ah well, moving on. A story comprehension quiz. (Can you remember what the Heroes used for a sled? Was it an ironing board? Was it a tray? Or was it Captain America's shield?) Cut out a Hulk mask. Join the dots. A 2-page coloring spread, and a 1-page coloring. A trace-the-path, some letter tracing, a cut-out jigsaw, some "winter" facts (did you know that sometimes it gets so cold that it snows in winter). A simple puzzle, a spot the differences (another tricky one), a maze, two pages of fan photos, and the back-cover poster is... Spider-Man!
Webbing skis and a rather flat finish make this otherwise inoffensive story a little disappointing. Two webs.