Comics : Spider-Man & Friends (UK Magazine) #65

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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...

"Sports Day!"
Spider-Man & Friends (UK Magazine) #65
Sep 2011 : SM Title
Summary: 14-Sep-2011
Editor:  Simon Frith
Story:  Rik Hoskins
Artist:  Nigel Dobbyn
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Review

"Spider-Man's school are holding their annual sports day on the sunniest day of the year."

And... already I have a problem with this. How do you hold a sports day on "the sunniest day of the year". I mean, how do you even plan for something like that? What do you put on the schedule?

Date: Sunniest Day of the Year.
Time: 10am.

I mean, apart from the vagueness and planning challenges, how can you even know that any given day is the "Sunniest Day of the Year" until the year is over?! By which time, the Sunniest Day has long passed!

Let's get back to the story. Firstly, Spidey wins the hurdles. Silver Surfer comes second. "MY MEDAL IS SILVER!" says Silver Surfer, looking dumbly at his medal.

Next, Hulk wins the Long Jump. Silver Surfer again comes second. "MY MEDAL IS SILVER!" says Silver Surfer, with a rather vapid expression.

Then, Spider-Girl wins the High Jump. Silver Surfer comes second once more. "My Medal is Silver" says Silver Surfer, looking worriedly at his medal.

Finally, Captain America wins the Discus Throw. Silver Surfer comes second yet again. "My Medal is Silver" says Silver Surfer, glancing at his medal with mouth stupidly hanging open.

Spider-Man tells the Silver Surfer: "Maybe next time you will win a gold medal, too."

"I LOVE SILVER!" says Silver Surfer, with a daft smile all over his shiny face.

In General...

These stories walk a fine line, dicing with disaster at every step.

Without sufficient structure and care, they can just collapse in a pile of vague ramblings. Yet too planned, sensible, or staid and they can end up missing the vital sense of fun.

This one isn't a particularly good story by any standard I can clearly enunciate. It is simply the tale of a seemingly retarded Silver Surfer who happens to love the colour Silver. Is that a sound basis for a story? No it is not.

But despite that, there's something so endearingly daft about the Surfer's goofy, slow-dawning realisation that I can't help but smile in a bemused fashion.

Overall Rating...

So, moral of the story is... Silver Surfer is the "Special" kid at school. Pretty good at most sports, but... hardly the sharpest knife in the drawer. Normally you'll find him at the back of the class, eating paste.

I can't see why this story is appealing at all. But it is. Three webs.

Footnote...

Actually, that deceptively simple opening sentence still has a couple more problems to investigate.

"Spider-Man's school are holding their annual sports day on the sunniest day of the year."

Shouldn't that be "Spider-Man's school is", rather than "Spider-Man's school are"? There's only one school, so the subject is singular not plural.

Also, why is it Spider-Man's school, and not "The Heroes' School"? In fact, things get more disturbing when you look at the cover photo and see that all the medals have a spider stamped on them! Obviously there's something going on here that we didn't initially realise.

Spider-Man owns the school!

So... that explains why it's "Spider-Man's school". Because it's his school!

(Should still be singular though).