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.
Our story is entitled "Spider-Man's Classroom".
"It is a sunny day. Spider-Man is in school when his spider-sense alerts him to something funny happening outside."
It's a lost doggie running around in the playground. But... what threat could this dog possibly offer to the web-slinger to trigger his Spider-Sense? Umm... well, none at all, obviously. Clearly, any stray animal is enough to distract Spidey from his schoolwork, right? WRONG! Tell it like it is! Spidey was totally bored, saw a dog outside, and he's all like "Please miss, can I be excused, my Spider-Sense is tingling." I bet Ferris Beuller is kicking himself he didn't think of that one.
What? Ferris who? Surely you've heard of... Oh forget it. I'll bring my SAVE FERRIS T-Shirt next time we get together for beers and explain it all to you then.
Spider-Man leads the gang outside. Spider-Girl does it doggy style in the playground. WOOF WOOF! Then all the super-heroes join in and play fetch with the dog too. Meanwhile the teacher calls the dog catcher. She explains that if nobody claims or adopts the dog in seven days, the dog will be killed with an electric shock. OK, I lied about that last bit. She just calls the dog catcher.
The dog runs away from the ranger. Doc Ock fails to catch him (loser), but Spidey swings down before the dog can run onto the road. Umm... so, there's an open gate between the school playground and the road? That's awesome child safety right there, guys!
Spider-Man asks the dog catcher if he and the teacher can get in the truck and come to the pound too. Um... so, who's looking after the classroom? Never mind. A vet checks out the dog and finds him healthy. A perfect family adopts the dog, names him "Happy" and brings him to the school sometimes so Spider-Man and Spider-Girl can play with him.
Ooooh... how lovely!
The usual mix of semi-educational/semi-fun stuff follows. A full-page add for the Thomas the Tank Engine sticker magazine, a story quiz (what did Spidey see outside? A sheep? A cat? No, a dog, moron!) A page of tracing stuff, a page to draw a wavy line following the marked boundaries, a 2-page coloring, a 1-page coloring, a counting page, trace the letters (the letter "R" features). Then a cut-out jigsaw, some facts about school; did you know that "Children learn in a classroom, and are taught by a teacher!"
Finally there's a "circle the stuff you need for school" page, a spot the differences page (not so hard this month), a "match the heroes to their shadow" puzzle, 2 pages of fan art/photos, and our back cover poster boy is The Hulk. That's a wrap, guys!
This month's story is so wholesome it makes me wanna barf up my doggy biscuits! C'mon guys, kids deserve something just a little bit more interesting than this. I know we're trying to keep it wholesome, but seriously, can't we have just a little quirkiness here?
Oh, I give up. Three incredibly dull and unexciting webs.