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 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.
I didn't manage to grab a copy of #42 of this title when it came out, but fortunately I recently spotted a copy on eBay to fill one of the painful gaps in my collection, so here's a catch-up review!
Spider-Man has been learning to knit all week. "Knitting is a lot like making webs," Spidey thinks.
And indeed, Spidey is an awesome knitter! He produces a most spectacular hat red and blue. He also seems to have acquired a funky blue scarf, though no mention is made of that being his own handiwork.
Spidey takes his hat to school and shows it off the next day, which is quite sunny. At first, he gets hassled about it. Doc Ock tries to steal it, while Spider-Girl teases him about it.
Despite that, Spider-Man wears his hat to school again the next day, which is much colder. In fact, it's so cold that none of the other heroes want to go outside and play. But Spidey has a super idea. After school he gets together a collection of wool and knitting needles and teaches his friends how to knit their own warm hats in their own favorite colors. From the look of it, Hulk also knits himself a scarf.
Now the heroes can all play outside when it's cold!
This magazine is at its best when it verges upon the bizarre, and this story is wacky enough to tickle the funny bone the right way. The first panel features Spidey sitting on the sofa in full costume, knitting a wooly hat. How can that end badly?
Four funky pages, four fabulous webs.