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.
The cover of this issue urgently demands... "Search for Cap's Shield!"
To be honest, I generally expect these "search & find" puzzles to be a little bit more complicated than this. Even for the kindergarten krew. Yep, this one's pretty damn simple... there's Captain America's shield right there! On the cover! Captain America is holding it! I guess he just forgot that he put it on this morning, and now he, Spidey & Wolvie are running around like mad things all looking for it.
I wonder how they're gonna make a story out of that. Let's see.
"When Spider-Man and Wolverine get to Captain America's House they see that Cap is looking for something."
Aha! Obviously the cover art depicts a flashback to an earlier scene - before Cap lost his shield. Or possibly it shows an "after" shot, when the guys have found the shield. Though - showing the final success of a mission right on the cover does take a lot of the drama out of a story.
Anyhow, Cap explains that he's lost his special shield, and it looks like a big circle. Wolvie offers to "sniff out" the shield. Makes sense. Cap's very manly, and the shield probably smells very manly too. So Wolvie leads the gang as they search for round things.
A bicycle wheel? Can't play catch with that. Dustbin lids? Very, very close! But no cigar. The heroes head over to the park where they had agreed to meet Iron Man. Washing machine doors in the laundrette? Also round, but not a shield. Traffic lights? Way off. Aha! Glowing yellow circles in the park! That might be the shield!
Glowing circles might be the shield? OK, that's pretty daft. Somehow, Cap has confused "shield" and "torch". I guess being defrosted killed a few more brain cells than we first thought.
As it turns out, the glowing light is Iron Man's chest light, which he is using to light the shield while he polishes it. He was just trying to be helpful. Right, seriously? Iron Man stealthily acquires Cap's most prize possession and takes it away? What a helper! Then in broad daylight he needs his chest light to see sufficiently to polish? Umm... if you say so. And finally, a glowing chest light looks like a shield? Ack! Make the dumb people stop!
The heroes play catch in the park. With the very, very shiny shield. The end.
These stories are so erratic, which is a shame. Last month's Festive Fun! was superbly entertaining. This month's story hits eleven on the pain-o-meter. Come on guys, get with the program here!
Lame, lame, lame. One and a half webs.