Comics : Spider-Man & Friends (UK Magazine) #64

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: British History

This review was first published on: Apr 2013.

Background...

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 series was cancelled in 2011 (along with every other original Marvel story content created in the UK) after Disney purchased Marvel. This issue is one of the last few stories in the series.

In Detail...

"The Perfect Power!"
Spider-Man & Friends (UK Magazine) #64
Aug 2011 : SM Title
Summary: 17-Aug-2011
Editor:  Simon Frith
Story:  Rik Hoskins
Artist:  Nigel Dobbyn
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Cyclops has the power to discharge a blast beam from his eyes. But he finds it boring having only one power. He wishes he had more varied powers, like Spider-Man.

Spider-Man can swing from a web. Cyclops tries to swing from a rope, "But he's not very good at it".

Actually, what happens is that the rope snaps and dumps him in a puddle. Is it really fair to blame Cyclops' incompetence at rope-swinging? Or is it just that somebody handed him a really pathetic rope?

Hulk is really strong, and can "lift up a school bus one-handed". Again, the text is a bit misleading, since the art clearly shows Hulk lifting a bus with TWO hands, not one.

Cyclops tries to lift a tricycle above his head, but drops it. It's fair to say that Cyclops does start to come across as a bit of an incompetent git at this point.

Spider-Man suggests that Cyclops could "get a magic hammer so he can fly like Thor." I suspect it's a bit tricky for a Mutant to get promoted to the status of a God. It can probably be done, but it's not really a kindergarten-level skill.

Suddenly it rains and a lightning bolt hits the school-house. A weather vane is blasted loose and falls on top of Spider-Girl's head. This is pretty typical sexist stuff for this magazine... Spider-Girl always seems to get the crappy jobs. She also doesn't seem to have any Spider-Sense either, as the only way she can apparently be "saved" is by Cyclops blasting the falling weather vane out of the way.

"YOUR A HERO!" shouts Spider-Man.

In General...

Yes, Spider-Man really does say "YOUR A HERO!" and not "YOU'RE A HERO!"

And I think that pretty much sums up how this magazine has really given up, and is now just going through the motions. There were some wonderful, hilarious quirky stories early on. But not only are the latest tales really boring, they're also filled with careless mistakes and inconsistencies.

This magazine is supposed to be a teaching aid for young children. This kind of blatant grammatical error slipping through the proof-reading process is a perfect indication of how little care is being given to this product.

Overall Rating...

Even without stupid grammatical errors, this was already a clumsy and flawed story poorly wrapped around a rather vague moral lesson.

A was already planning to rate this one pretty low, but that final embarrassing gaffe really adds injury to insult. I'm going to make an example out of this tale, and give it a brutal one-web rating.

Footnote...

It's clear the creators of this magazine are bored and distracted. Maybe it's a good thing that Disney pulled the plug. Mind you, we still have a couple more issues to go before it's all over...