This UK kids magazine is one of three 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. Finally, their Marvel Heroes (UK Magazine) hits the same mid-teen crowd but with a video game/movie angle.
But let's get back to Spider-Man & Friends. It 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, plus in 2009 they produced a hardback annual.
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. It's similar to the formats used for the older kids' magazines, just pitched for a much younger target audience.
THE SCHOOL PAPER! Today, the teacher is telling Spider-Man's class all about newspapers. "I'll give you each a special job and we'll make our own newspaper," she says.
Fair enough. I'm with ya so far. So let's see who gets what job. Spider-Man is... heh, the photographer. Nice one. He takes a photo of teacher for the front page. Spider-Girl is writing a story about a spider, so Spider-Man takes a photo of the spider's web.
Storm is interviewing the principal. Why? Well, I'm guessing he's famous just for being well known. Kind of like a kindergarten Paris Hilton. But in a suit rather than a bikini. I mean seriously, what is it with Paris Hilton. Why would people pay money for a magazine just to find out what she was pretending to do this month. Opium for the masses, really.
Anyhow, turns out the principal likes school. "Do you like school?" asks Storm. "I love school," replies the principal. Well, that killed that opportunity for a surprise plot twist.
Finally, Spider-Man takes a photo of Wolverine scoring a goal at football. Soccer, that is.
But when Spider-Girl assembles the newspaper. OH NO! All the photos are upside-down! What to do? Oh, yeah, there's a button right there on the screen that rotates the picture by 180 degrees.
Sorry, did I not make that clear? OH NO! All the photos are upside down! That's the punchline. That's the whole point of the story. Because Spider-Man hangs upside down, all his photos were rotated.
What? Oh, yes. You're right. That is totally lame. If Spider-Girl is capable of working the sophisticated word-processing software to assemble a newspaper layout, then I guess she probably didn't have too much trouble rotating the picture.
What's that? You're right, it is pretty tragic. Yes, it's a sad excuse for a plot. Stop rubbing it in. This is a kids story.
I'm gonna give this story one free web, plus one bonus web for every interesting idea or amusing element contained within the plot. Let's see. Divide by six, carry the ten... that makes.
Oh. One web.
Usual filler stuff. One page puzzle (identify the blurry characters in the photos). Page quiz and trace letters. Two page cut-out four-piece jigsaw puzzle. Two page coloring, two page "which super hero costumes were used to make the mixed-up hero" puzzle, one page maze, one page spot-the-difference (dang, I could only find 4 out of 5), two more pages of letter tracing, one page "complete the pattern", one page "addition sums", and finally two pages of fan art and photos. Silver Surfer poster on the back cover. Thanks for coming.