Embarrassed billionaires tried to keep a lid on this story, but it cried out to be told: how America's greatest comic-book company was driven to the brink of insolvency by warring tycoons and rescued from the abyss by two obscure but wily entrepreneurs.
In the late 1980s, financier Ronald Perelman, worth billions and riding high after his hostile takeover of the cosmetics firm Revlon, bought Marvel Entertainment–legendary creator of Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, the X-Men, and other superheroes–and he had big plans. He not only began churning out more comic books, he also acquired sports cards and other subsidiaries, impressing Wall Street so much that after he took the company public, Marvel’s market value ballooned to over $3 billion.
Perelman took advantage of the company’s inflated valuation by selling junk bonds, and personally pocketing nearly $500 million. Meanwhile, Marvel’s bank debt rose to more than $600 million. And then came the collapse of the comic-book and trading-card markets.
Enter rival corporate raider, Carl Icahn, who sank a fortune into Marvel’s bonds in an effort to wrest away control of Marvel–and to beat Perelman at his own game. As the competing tycoons went head-to-head, Ike Perlmutter and Avi Arad, two entrepreneurs who ran Toy Biz, a company that depended on Marvel superheroes, realized that their fate hung in the balance. They soon put in motion plans to take control themselves.
Bunkered in The Townhouse, his high-security Manhattan corporate headquarters, Perelman had Marvel declare bankruptcy. Icahn, an avid poker player, had to figure out if his foe was bluffing; the Toy Biz entrepreneurs needed to find a way to save the company they loved from ruin; and a team of killer lawyers representing the banks was faced with recouping their colossal debt. Thus, in United States Bankruptcy Court, began the comic war–as ferocious and outlandish as any of Marvel’s tales of good vs. evil.
Combining meticulous investigative reporting with entertaining storytelling, Comic Wars exposes the actions and motives of two Goliath-style corporate raiders, two innovative Davids, and some of the world’s most prominent banks. It is the rollicking true tale of a unique Wall Street showdown, of Marvel’s surprising emergence from the ashes of bankruptcy, and of its triumphant reinvention as the producer of such hit Hollywood movies as X-Men and Spider-Man.
About Dan Raviv
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Published January 30, 2002
by Diane Pub Co.
Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences.