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.
It is the festive season. Spider-Man and his pals are choosing presents for their friends and family. "Which present is best for Aunt May?" Spidey wonders.
So begins our story... as befits the modern world, Christmas is no more. Instead, a generic "festive season" includes everyone, at the cost of stripping away the underlying meaning of the celebration, which is of course, a deep-rooted pagan celebration of the winter solstice. Why can't we just say "Merry Winter Solstice" like we did when I was a kid? Damn political correctness!
But I digress. Spider-Man is complaining because he likes giving presents but hates wrapping them up. Hey Spidey, what do you have webbing for?
Doc Ock doesn't want to wrap presents because he'll miss his TV cartoon shows. Hmm... all those spare hands no good for anything?
Ah, I under-estimated the true genius of Doctor Ock. Ock creates a robot to wrap all his presents for him. "I NEED MORE PRESENTS!" demands the robot. I guess the present-wrapping imperative is pretty deep-seating in his programming. As Ock snoozes, the robot wraps the television. And Ock's cat. And Ock's whole house!
Spider-Man arrives. Doctor Octopus warns the web-slinger to look out for the mad present-wrapping robot. Wrapping? I told you that was a Spider-Man specialty. Spidey bundles the robot up in webbing.
The party arrives, and the super-friends exchange gifts. Ock's presents are the best-wrapped.
Last Laugh: Among the presents, an umbrella for Storm, shield polish for Captain America, board polish for Silver Surfer, and a book on Robots for Doc Ock. Lolz.
The stories in this title run the gamut from the ridiculous, through the insipid, and occasionally run to the sublime. This is one of those latter days. This will entertain the little-ones, while putting a goofy grin on the faces of the grown-ups.
A worthy four webs.