Marvel Unmasked

The incredible tale of how the comic-book company escaped disaster. Next: Can our hero survive its own ambitions?

For most, it was simply a poignant  moment in June's World Cup. Scoring his team's third goal to seal a victory over Costa Rica, Ecuador's Ivan Kaviedes pulled out a Spider-Man mask from his shorts, donned it and danced across the field, to the cheers of Ecuadorian fans. He did so in the memory of teammate Otilino (Spider-Man) Tenorio, killed in a 2005 car crash. But Marvel Entertainment executives took Kaviedes' tribute as their own. For a comic-book publisher, it marked a feat of superhero proportions: in less than a decade, the company had pulled itself out of bankruptcy to re-establish...

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