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.
"One of Spider-Man's friends is a brilliant inventor called Iron Man..." and once more we're off again on a pre-school adventure. Spider-Man & Friends Magazine is like a box of chocolates. Every now and again you get one that sounds tasty, but which is actually really revolting. Though actually, this issue is the "Crunchy Frog" of junior literary confectionery - it's as bad in execution as it is in concept.
The story: Iron Man has built a robotic mini-golf course. "The Thing" hits the ball too hard into one of the robots - scoring a hole-in-one, but setting off a robotic rampage. Spider-Man webs the robot and The Thing smashes it. Iron Man produces his new invention, a robotic golf ball, but Spidey and Thing have had enough of robots for one day.
My... Brain... Hurts. I struggle to imagine how this ever seemed like a good storyline. Four pages, twelve panels. That's not a lot of space to work with, and you really have to give yourself a good concept if you hope to produce anything at the end of it all.
But: "Iron Man creates a robot which goes mad and has to be destroyed?"
There's just nothing in there at all. It's like a box of flavor-free chewing gum. It goes in, you chomp a bit, you spit it in... but nothing is achieved apart from a slight ache in the mandibles, and a vague sense of loss.
How do you rate a story when there is no story to rate? They built something, they smashed it. This tale leaves a hole in me that can't be filled by a well-aimed golf ball. One web.
The usual filler. 1 page promo for Lazy Town sticker book. 1 page story quiz and letter tracing, 1 page maze, 1 page counting, 2 page coloring, 1 page coloring, 1 page letter tracing, 1 page join the dots and color, 1 page spot the difference, 2 page counting and visual comprehension, 1 page match the rhyming words, 1 page choose the items in context, 2 page letters and fan art/photos, and a poster on the back cover.