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.
The Hulk is a Loser. No, seriously. In this month's story, he just loses. He loses a game of Basketball, so he smashes the post and kicks the ball away. Then he loses at a board game, so he breaks the board.
Soon, nobody will play with the Hulk. Spidey explains the reason to the Hulk. Basically Hulk, you're a bad loser.
So Hulk promises to change. Because that's what the Hulk is famous for - self-behavioral modification in response to reasoned argument.
The Hulk is invited back to play football. He still loses, but he learns to accept failure.
So, what's the moral of the tale here? If you're one of life's losers, just learn to accept your place in the scheme of things?
What kind of motivation is that? Sure, you want to kids to accept that they don't always get to win. But couldn't we have had some sort of positive message here? Couldn't Hulk's strength have saved a kitten, teaching him that some days you lose, and other days you're the hero?
This well-meaning story ended up bringing me down. So that's what I'm going to do to the rating - bring it down to two-webs.