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... "THE MARVEL CIRCUS!"
I don't think they're talking about the bizarre antics that surround the laughable attempts by Marvel to persuade fans and media that long-term characters are REALLY DEAD this time. Captain America, we're talking about YOU here.
No, this is more of your "Spider-Man likes making his friends laugh, so today he has organised a circus. He makes a colorful poster telling everyone to join in." Not asking, mind you. Telling. Or else.
He has acquired a marquee tent (the web says current prices are around $400/day to hire). Storm is walking a high wire. Not so scary really for a girl who can fly. Captain America and Rhino are being clowns. No comment. Hulk and Thing are lifting heavy weights as "strong men". To cap things off, Thor is taming kittens. No, really. Ock is juggling, Spider-Girl and Spider-Man are swinging on the trapeze (oh so scary).
That leaves Iron Man to... umm... well... oh, he's the "human cannonball".
When the sho goes live, there are several hundred people in the crowd watching. The inside of the tent is ten times larger than the outside of the tent. I wonder what the rental rate on a Tardis-Tent is?
So, basically, all the heroes show off by doing things that are half as scary as the regular things they do every day. Kind of like me going in a circus where my "special act" is eating a bowl of muesli and walking around in a circle for five minutes.
I have no idea what really makes one "Spidey & Friends" story better or worse than another. This story was really no better than last issue's Aquarium Adventure. I think it all boils down to how many drinks I've had before I read the story. So I'm going to award one web for each double whiskey and lemonade chugged down so far this evening.
That adds up to... oh dear... I have fallen off the wagon.