This UK kids magazine is one of two 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.
Spider-Man & Friends 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.
Published every four or five 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. Essentially, it's the same format as the older kids magazine, just reworked for a much younger target audience.
This issue's story is entitled "Spidey's Painting Adventure", and it features two very special guest stars... Silver Surfer and... Aunt May!
Aunt May thinks it's time to repaint the house. The color she has chosen is "Tiger White". Get it? "White Tiger". Heh, well, I thought it was funny. Anyhow, dear old Aunt May has a pot of paint in her hand, and she's preparing to climb the ladder to paint the two-story Parker homestead.
Are we really going to let a ninety-six-year-old (I'm guessing here) lady climb a thirty-foot ladder? I don't think so!
"I can do the painting for you," Spider-Man says. Spider-Man is Aunt May's nephew and he loves to help out around the house.
Silver Surfer and Dr. Octopus are also going to help. And by this point, I think you can see here just how far we are from regular Marvel continuity. Silver Surfer paints houses. Ock is a good guy. Aunt May knows Spider-Man is her nephew. Five year old kids paint houses... you get the picture.
Aunt May lets the three friends choose some colorful paint from the shop (yeah, I always let kids choose the color of my house). The heroes put on some old clothes. Ock has six hands, so he's got a definite advantage. Silver Surfer can fly, so he does the high windowsills. Spider-Man just hangs upside-down from nearby trees to do the really tricky bits. What a team!
The Silver Surfer chose the color for the front door. It's a glowing, metallic silver... just like his testicles. Apparently. That last bit was just my interpolation. Anyhow, it all looks great. Aunt May bakes cookies.
OK, I formerly learned in writing class that the most essential element of any story is conflict. I had believed this to be an inviolate law of prose. But seemingly there are some very specific exceptions to this rule. Under exceptional circumstances, it is in fact possible to substitute a shiny silver front door as an alternative to... well, pretty much anything else.
The Super-Heroes paint a house. The house is a metaphor for the victory of event-driven narrative over conflict-driven narrative. The end.
I couldn't really figure out what this tale was about. So I tried thumping my head against the corner of my desk to see if that changed my perspective on anything. In hindsight, I should have know that wouldn't really improve things. I'll know better next time.
The heroes paint a house. Aunt May bakes cookies. We don't actually get to see Silver Surfer's 'nads, so please don't bother writing to complain to the publishing standards authority.
Extra stuff: Draw a line to connect the things that are the same color. A simple comprehension quiz (Who needed their house painted - Aunt May? Spider-Girl? The Milkman?) Sketch Spidey's Mask. Follow the maze trails. Two-page coloring page. Count the items. Find the pattern in the sequence. Trace the dots and color. Spot the FIVE differences. Trace some more letters. A memory quiz. Two pages of fan art and letters. Thanks for coming!