Marvel Entertainment has agreed to sell to Walt Disney for $4 billion, or $50 a share.
Marvel owns Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Iron Man, and other 1950s-era comic book titles turned mass-market licensing bonanzas, which have been resurrected as thinly-plotted but brightly-colored action films by the creatively-challenged Hollywood movie studios.
The sale ends a long, wild ride for Marvel that included a litigious stint as part of Philadelphia-bred dealmaker Ron Perelman's complex business holdings in the 1990s.
Marvel was for a time owner of Philadelphia baseball card maker Fleer Corp., later Fleer/Sky Box International of Mount Laurel. Later the Grass family (of Rite Aid) bought Fleer; they ran it into bankruptcy, and shut Fleer in 2005; the brand was bought by Upper Deck Co., Carlsbad, Calif., the last surviving competitor of New York's Topps Inc., which earlier this month signed an exclusive deal with Major League Baseball, marginalizing Upper Deck.