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.
This issue's startling tale is un-cryptically entitled "GO FISH!".
The young Super Heroes are visiting the aquarium. An aquarium is a place where you can see different fish from all over the world.
"I LIKE FISH!" exclaims Spider-Man.
Captain America, rather patriotically declares that he likes red-white-and-blue fish. Is there such a fish? The star spangled kipper? This is such an excellent aquar... oh, wait. No it's not. It's a pretty rubbish aquarium. One of the tanks suddenly cracks and starts to leak. Fortunately Spider-Man has a spider-sense to warn him. I'm sure nobody would have noticed otherwise as water suddenly gushes all over the floor emptying the huge tank in seconds.
The heroes need to... "SAVE THE FISH!" Cap uses his (flat, shallow) shield. Spidey makes a web net to hold fish. Sure hope it holds the water they need to stay alive. Iron Man uses a heat ray to fix the tank. Strangely, while the previous panel showed a catastrophic failure in the tank wall, a couple of panels later there is nothing but a small hole not really large enough to let a medium-sized fish pass through unharmed. Verrry fishy.
Oh well. So, how to refill the tank? Well, since the tank is still half full, the heroes could just put the fish back right now and let the guys who run the aquarium use whatever heavy-duty setup they would normally use to fill the tanks. OR... the heroes could come up with some incredibly dumb solution to "help", which will naturally work since this is fantasy land.
Now, what's the slowest source of water you could imagine to fill a twenty-ton giant fish tank? A tap? Too fast. Ah yes... a drinking fountain! And a piece of garden hose! Any simple maths would tell you that... oh, forget it. The drinking fountain squirts like a gusher and fills the tank within minutes. The heroes THEN put the fish back. Yeah, they wait until the tank is completely full before putting them back in the water.
As a reward, the heroes are allowed to feed the fish from inside the tank.
The best of these Spidey & Friends stories are those that are completely weird surreal, and unfortunately this one just doesn't quite qualify. Sure it ranks pretty high on the stupid-o-meter, but that's only half the requirement. It just wasn't wacky enough to entertain, it just ended up being annoying.
Close, but no cigar. Two webs.
Fish feature prominently in the filler material - coloring, simple puzzles, tracing, a comprehension quiz, plus art and photo from young Spider-Friends.