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.
This month... "The Drip!"
It's raining heavily and the heroes are in their tree house, playing their favorite board game... "It's Clobbering Time!" But a drip of water falls on their game, followed by... crash! The weight of the water has made a hole in the roof!
Spider-Man and Thor both go to fix it... Spidey with webbing, Thor with his hammer. Unfortunately they both act at the same instant, leaving a web-coated hammer and the hole still as big as ever. Ooops!
Well, Iron Man promptly reaches for his chest-mounted blast ray. Oh yeah, that's a clever idea there, metal-head. How the hell are you going to fix a hole by blasting? Quite predictably, Tony "tin-for-brains" Stark manages to make things even worse, and Captain America is forced to use his shield to protect his friends.
Umm... why does Cap need to protect his friends? Spidey has a spider-sense and can dodge, while neither Iron Man nor Thor are likely to be hurt by a falling roof tile. Ah well, at least it gives Mr. America something to do.
Anyhow, it's clear that some sort of planning is required. So the heroes decide to work together to get the job done. Spidey and Thor get a bit more organised and fix the roof, while Cap and Iron Man clear out the water. When it's all done, the super-friends can finish their game and stay dry too!
Yeah, the "co-operation" deal is a bit of a cliché in these kids stories, but it's pretty well done this time around. Plus the heroes have an absolutely awesome tree house which makes you want to be a super-hero just so you get to play in it. Actually, I think the tree house technically belongs to Spidey. Lucky arachnid.
With a bonus web for a board game named "It's Clobbering Time", I'm going to elevate this simple but effective tale up to a grand three point five web rating.