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.
Today... "Hair disaster!" Of course, it all begins harmlessly enough. Spider-Man joins Storm and Spider-Girl at the hairdressers. S-G's hair is too long and keeps falling in her eyes, so she has it cut. Mind you, it looks identical to me before and after the cut. But I'm a guy. We tend to be kind of immune to that kind of pattern recognition.
Spider-Man and Spider-Girl join Ock and Beast at the playground, leaving Storm to get "a trim" as well. But when Storm comes back to join them, her formerly waist-length white hair is... well, it gets shaven down to the scalp on both sides of her head, with just a perky Mohawk left in the middle. You know the change we're talking about - traditional-Storm vs. punk-Storm.
Storm isn't happy, she hadn't really expected the haircut to look like that. Seriously? When they pulled out the razor blade and started shaving away at your scalp, what did you EXPECT, dumb-ass? Surely either Storm deserves the prize for "poorest communication by a weather-goddess in a pre-school script", or else the dopey bint who hacked off all Storms hair by mistake is cruising for a lightning-bolt up the jacksy that's gonna give her "landing strip" an afro it ain't ever gonna forget.
Storm is sad. She wanted "Farrah Fawcett chic" and she got "Britney Spears psycho". But don't worry, Beast has a solution. He was a "normal boy" until he used a potion to give himself blue fur. Really. A normal boy? As in, just your normal five-year-old pumped-up mutant super-gymnast with half-a-dozen PhDs in biochemical engineering? Anyhow, Beast offers Storm some of his potion. I guess he figures that nothing sets off a white Mohawk better than a light layer of blue fuzz.
Dumb as Storm is to even think about accepting a potion, she's even dumber to drop it all over the floor. Everything goes green and hazy, and before long, the super-friends ALL have long hair. Even Spider-Man is sporting pig-tails popping through the side of his mask. Beast is shaggier than the shag-pile in a 1970's love-nest. Doc Ock looks like he should be playing guitar in a heavy metal band. In fact, he probably does. Storm is the only one happy. She has her long white hair back, and it looks great.
"Fortunately", Ock has the solution. With all his arms, he can cut everybody's hair at the same time. Yeah, that's a good idea, guys! He has six arms, but still only one pair of eyes... are you even THINKING about this? Not only that, but his idea of a "trendy haircut" is to use this season's color of pudding bowl to cut around.
But we're in our happy place now, as Ock snips away with the four pairs of scissors he conveniently managed to find. Maybe Spider-Man made the scissors out of webbing. Ock races through the cutting, as we all know the most important factor in a good haircut is speed, right? Miracle of miracles, the doctor is apparently a doctor of hair-ology, 'cos the final result is that everybody is back to normal. I'm also delighted to report that we the readers are spared the sight of Otto Octavius trimming Hank McCoy's hairy blue pubes. For this, we are truly grateful.
Maybe it's the two glasses of whiskey I slugged down before reading this review, but this one kind of hit the funny-bone. When it comes to Spider-Man & Friends, the more surreal they are, the more I love 'em. Here's a case in point.
Four webs. I can't help but feel there's a certain randomness to my rating here, the factors which please me in these tales are indefinable and elusive. But I know what I like, and this one... I like.