Sure there are countless websites out there for comic fans, but how many are geared towards the younger fanboy or fangirl? I’m talking about those kids who aren’t in their teens yet. Even ones that are just out of the toddler stage, or in early grades of grammar school. Since I’ve got two boys that are 4 and 6 years old, it’s sometimes tough to find a website for them that’s both appropriate and easy enough for them to interact with.
They love superheroes, especially the Marvel ones. (Granted, that’s probably because DC doesn’t have any “Superhero Squad” type of toys, or else they could turn into huge DC fans.) The main Marvel.com site is definitely way too advanced for them in terms of content, but I was pleased to find that Marvel set up a younger-targeted site at MarvelKids.com.
Easy to navigate, the site’s broken up into a few basic areas: Games, Videos and Comics. The Games area is filled with a good crop of character-based games. Sure some of them are fairly basic side-scrollers like the “Captain America: Red Skull and Crossbones” or “Hulk VS” ones, and your kids may get bored fairly quick. I sure was, and I’m a huge Cap fan. But other games like “Iron Man Armory Assault” or “Iron Man Test Flight” are much more fun. The controls change up too, with some taking advantage of the mouse, which is always much easier for younger kids to understand and coordinate than the keyboard.
For some massive time killers, though, check out the Videos section of the site, where you can view full episodes of recent Marvel cartoons including “Wolverine and the X-Men,” “X-Men: Evolution,” “Fantastic Four: World’s Greatest Heroes,” and “Iron Man Armored Adventures.” I just wish they’d put up the classic “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” cartoon from the ’80s, starring Spidey, Firestar, Ice-Man, and yes, even that 8th little superhero Ms. Lion. But with literally dozens of episodes to choose from, as well as a Hi-Res video option, your kids can catch up on plenty of animated superhero adventures.
The Comics section, as expected, features Marvel’s wonderful digital comics reader, along with a nice collection of age-appropriate digital comics: Marvel Age Fantastic Four, Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, Mary Jane, and X-Men and Power Pack to name a few. With an easy-to-navigate interface, you can read these digital comics right on your computer.
But the best part of the site (at least for my kids) is the More Marvel tab, which leads to all sorts of interactive fun including coloring pages, mazes, puzzles, wallpapers and more. While the coloring pages are great, I was a bit disappointed in the mazes and word searches. Unlike the rest of the slick site, they seem thrown together last minute, with a basic computer program creating a generic maze or word search, and then a piece of comic art placed next to the puzzle. I would much rather have seen an artist-drawn maze with characters interacting throughout.
One other neat feature on the MarvelKids site is that you can browse by character, as well. So if your kid can’t get enough of the Hulk, just click the Hulk’s big green mug. You’ll get all the Hulk-related content one one page (wallpapers, digital comics, videos, games, etc.), but also a short bio and a random fun fact.
All in all, MavelKids.com is a great site to help introduce young kids to the Marvel Universe. There’s plenty to read, watch and play. And best of all, it’s all completely free. So get your young ones over there and before you know it, they’ll be saying, “Make Mine Marvel!”