CBS newsman Dan Raviv has written an account of the battle between financiers Ronald Perelman and Carl Icahn over control of Marvel Entertainment--a Wall Street showdown that nearly put America's number one comic publisher down for the count. Raviv's version of the struggle, which carries the ungainly title, Comic Wars: How Two Tycoons Battled Over the Marvel Comics Empire -- And Both Lost, is due out this month, and this is one financial book that many pop culture retailers will be able to sell solely because of its subject matter, and the innate drama of the struggle between two powerful figures who prove that the ruthless legacy of the 1980s finance--corporate raiding and junk bonds--certainly didn't die with the decade.
Comic industry insiders, who were rightly suspicious of Perelman's grandiose scheme of a Marvel Entertainment Empire, will shudder at the portrait of one of the industry's key publishers caught between the financial manipulations of Perelman and Icahn and exposed to ferocious teams of lawyers attempting to recoup the colossal debts the corporation owed to a bevy of banks. According to most reviewers the problem with Raviv's account of Marvel's struggles comes from his overly sympathetic portrait of current Marvel honchos Ike Perlmutter and Avi Arad as 'white knights,' who managed to save the company. Reviewers also noted that Perlmutter and Arad are quite obviously Raviv's primary sources for his account. Compared to Perelman and Icahn they might look pretty good, but they are pretty tough hombres in their own right. Reportedly Raviv also doesn't quite put enough emphasis on Marvel's ill-fated venture into distribution and its ill-advised purchases of two card companies, Fleer and SkyBox, which created the bulk of the company's colossal debt. Nevertheless, in spite of its flaws, Comic Wars can't miss with comics fans who have a vested intellectual interest in this tale of a profitable company and industry leader that was nearly ruined when it became a mere pawn in a high stakes financial struggle.