Comic Wars: How Two Tycoons Battled Over the Marvel Comics Empire--And Both Lost

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9780767908306: Comic Wars: How Two Tycoons Battled Over the Marvel Comics Empire--And Both Lost

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.

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From the Back Cover:

"Dan Raviv is a wizard. Though Comic Wars is a factual account of the origins and aftermath of a corporate bankruptcy, he's managed to make it as suspenseful and exciting as the superhero thrillers over which most of the battle was fought. Even though I've lived through those harrowing days, thanks to Dan's book, I've gained a new understanding of the whole incredible event." –Stan Lee

"Who'd have thought that the battle over a comic book would produce such an incredible story. A page-turning delight." -Larry King

"Dan Raviv turns his well-known investigative skills to something new: the hidden story of the bankruptcy that had all us comic fans worried. So dramatic and true-to-life that I couldn't put it down." –Steve Geppi, President, Diamond Comic Distributors

"A page-turner that is both a valuable cautionary tale about shaky junk bonds and other unwise investments, and a rollicking good read." –Marshall Loeb, Marketwatch.com, former editor of Fortune and Money

"Raviv reveals the tragic consequences of financiers with supersized personas on a collision course with creativity. Moguls, wannabe moguls, and the countless victims of moguls will appreciate this mythic tale that really happened."
–Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Associate Dean, Yale University School of Management

"This is a great book. It tells an incredible story that will keep you on the edge of your chair." –Wolf Blitzer, CNN anchor

About the Author:

Currently a national correspondent for CBS News, Dan Raviv has won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Overseas Press Club of America and has written articles for major newspapers worldwide. The coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Every Spy a Prince, as well as Friends in Deed and Behind the Uprising, he lives with his family in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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