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.
"Today Spider-Man and his friends are playing football against Captain America's team. 'I want to score ten goals,' says Spider-Man." Note that the super-powered school kids are playing football, not soccer! There's one in the eye for the Yanks.
Cyclops bends the rules a little by using his eye-beams to move the ball around instead of his feet. Spider-Girl also stretches things by using her webs to block the shot on goal. Then Thor gives the ball an almighty kick which puts it into orbit, nearly hitting the Silver Surfer.
When the ball is finally returned from space (Thor flies up to get it), the guys all get together and decide to ban super-powers for the remainder of the game. With that new rule in place they carry on. Captain America receives the pass, tackles Thor, heads for the goal and makes the cross for Rhino to finish with a header...
Bother. The ball "gets stuck on his pointy horn!"
Everybody has a good laugh, then they carry on with the game.
We were going along fine here until the last page. Unfortunately, in the panel where (according to the text) the Rhino gets the ball "stuck on his pointy horn", the art actually shows the ball being wedged behind his horn.
I guess that means the ball isn't damaged, so the game can continue. But (a) it is in contrast to the caption, and (b) it's nowhere near as funny as having the ball go *POP* on his head.
Mind you, if we're being accurate here, the amount of impact acceleration required to overcome gravity and air resistance and put a football into space would cause instantaneousness destruction of the said ball. Fortunately we're not being fussy, so we'll let the point be.
If it wasn't for the last-page glaring contradiction between the art and the text, I would have given a higher rating. But as it is, I'll go for a straight-down-the-middle three webs.