- Maggia (comics)
Attribution unknown, artist Jack Kirby
Publication information Publisher Marvel Comics First appearance Avengers #13
Created by Stan Lee (writer)
Don Heck (artist)
In-story information Type of organization Organized Crime
The Maggia is a fictional international crime syndicate that has appeared in various comic book series published by Marvel Comics. The organization exists in Marvel's main shared universe, known as the Marvel Universe. Its structure is somewhat similar to the Mafia (which is itself almost never referred to in Marvel stories), but the Maggia differs in that it frequently hires supervillains and mad scientists to work for them. The characters Count Nefaria and his daughter Madame Masque have both been leaders of an important Maggia family. It first debuted in Avengers #13 (February 1965), and was created by Stan Lee and Don Heck.
The Maggia is an international crime syndicate that is the world's most powerful organization dedicated to conventional crime (as opposed to subversive activities). Originating in southern Europe, the Maggia spread throughout non-Communist Europe and the Americas. Its presence in the United States first came to public attention in the 1890s, and the Maggia's widespread bootlegging of illegal liquor during the Prohibition Era has become legendary. Today the Maggia controls most of the illegal gambling, loan-sharking, and narcotics trade in the United States, as well as many legal gambling casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey and Las Vegas, Nevada. It also has great influence within various labor unions, and controls politicians on every level of government. Especially in recent years, the Maggia has invested many of its illegal gains into legitimate businesses. However, the Maggia enforces a strict code of secrecy among its members, and does not hesitate to punish betrayals and failures with death. Often the Maggia marks one of its members for execution by having a Maggioso grasp the intended victim by the chin in the so-called "Maggia touch."
The Maggia is not a monolithic organization but is instead a coalition of many virtually independent groups known as "families." The leading members of each family are usually connected through familial or marital ties. The Maggia also has affiliations with other criminal groups such as the Morgan organization in New York City's Harlem.
With Bruno Karnelli's horrible leadership, the loss of Silvermane, and Hammerhead siding with Mister Negative, the Maggia is thrown into chaos until Mysterio appears and uses robot duplicates of the dead Maggia members.
Known Maggia families
Several "families" are based in the New York City area. Three of these families have come to pre-eminence:
The Silvermane family
Its leader is Silvio "Silvermane" Manfredi, one of the last of the legendary gangsters who came to notoriety during the 1920s and 1930s. This group conducts its activities along traditional Maggia lines, and is heavily involved with the narcotics trade. Silvermane uses unusual scientific means only for the personal goal of staving off his own death, and not for the family's activities. Although Silvermane has a son, Joseph, also known as Blackwing, his successor as family head will probably be his longtime rival, top Maggia lawyer Caesar "Big C" Cicero. Silvermane initially retained control of his organization after being turned into a cyborg, but most recently his failing health, in both human and cyborg bodies, have left him a figurehead leader at best.
The Hammerhead family
Dominated by middle-aged Maggia traditionalists, this family first became notorious under unusual circumstances. Perhaps in imitation of the Nefaria family, its leader, known as the "Top Man," outfitted his family hit men with costumes and advanced weaponry. He then gained ownership of the Baxter Building through questionable means, thinking that doing so would somehow give him legal title to the technology of the building's famed occupants, the Fantastic Four. The Fantastic Four defeated and captured the "Top Man," his claims to owning the Baxter Building were dismissed by the courts, and the "Top Man" was reportedly assassinated by order of his own family. The family then sought a new leader who would direct operations along thoroughly traditional lines, and chose a newcomer known only as Hammerhead, an amnesia victim whose new ruthless persona had been shaped by his love for gangster films. Hammerhead uses methods from the Prohibition Era, including gang wars, although he will use advanced technology for personal ends, such as the exoskeleton that magnifies his strength. In light of Hammerhead's recent loyalty shift to Mister Negative, the status of his Maggia family remains undetermined.
The following characters have been members of the Maggia’s Hammerhead family:
- Top Man - Former leader of Hammerhead family. First appeared in Fantastic Four #101 (Aug 1970). Assassinated by an unknown member of his Maggia group.
- Hammerhead - Second leader of Hammerhead family. First appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #113 (Oct 1972).
- Gimlet - Rank unknown. First appeared in Fantastic Four #101 (Aug 1970).
- Big Rock - Rank unknown. First appeared in Fantastic Four #101 (Aug 1970).
- Blackwing - Rank unknown. First appeared in Daredevil #118 (Feb 1975).
- Eel - One-time employee. First appeared in Power Man and Iron Fist #92 (April 1983).
The Nefaria family
This group bears little resemblance to the rest of the Maggia. The late Italian nobleman, Count Luchino Nefaria, a scientific genius, was the world's most powerful Maggia leader until his initial defeat by the Avengers. Afterwards he moved his base of operations to the New York City area, and then imprisoned Washington, D.C. within an impenetrable force-dome and held it for ransom. After his defeat and capture, his daughter Giulietta, also known as Whitney Frost, succeeded him as family head and led an unsuccessful attempt to capture the advanced weaponry of Tony Stark. She was eventually succeeded by a costumed criminal, the Masked Marauder, who demanded complete control of New York City or else he would detonate a nuclear device there. After his capture, the family again apparently came under control of Whitney Frost, by then known as Madame Masque. Contrary to standard Maggia practice, the Nefaria family, principally consisting of men under 40, has employed futuristic weaponry and even robots (like the Dreadnoughts), as well as costumed super-powered agents (Unicorn, Whiplash, Gladiator, etc.), and has launched open attacks on society. Its leader is always known as "Big M." With both Count Nefaria and Madame Masque now pursuing separate agendas, it is not known who, if anyone, currently heads the Nefaria Family.
The following characters have been members of the Maggia’s Nefaria family:
- Count Nefaria - Founder of the Nefaria family. First appeared in Avengers #13 (Feb. 1965)
- Whitney Frost - Head of Nefaria family. First appeared in Tales of Suspense #97 (Jan 1968).
- Eel - Former agent. First appeared in Strange Tales #112 (Sep 1963). Killed by Gladiator.
- Masked Marauder - Former leader of Nefaria family. First appeared in Daredevil #16 (May 1966).
- Gladiator - Former member. First appeared in Daredevil #18 (Jul 1966).
- Whiplash - Former enforcer. First appeared in Tales of Suspense #97 (Jan 1968).
- Unicorn - Former agent. First appeared in Tales of Suspense #56 (Aug 1964).
- Scarecrow - Former agent. First appeared in Tales of Suspense #51 (Mar 1964).
- Plantman - Former agent. First appeared in Strange Tales #113 (Oct 1963).
- Porcupine - Former agent. First appeared in Tales to Astonish #48 (Oct 1963). Died in battle against Diamondback.
- Cyclone - First appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #143 (Apr 1975). Killed by Scourge of the Underworld.
- Daniel Lindy - First appeared in Spectacular Spider-Man #21 (Aug 1978).
Other Maggia members
The following members do not fall under the category of the other three Maggia families:
- Don Fortunato - Crime Boss. First appeared in Spider-Man #70 (May 1996)
- Eli Rumsford - Enforcer. First appeared in Spectacular Spider-Man #54 (May 1981)
- Harry Dumont - First appeared in Spectacular Spider-Man #54 (May 1981)
- Simon Marshall - Maggia Chemist. First appeared in Cloak and Dagger #1
- Smuggler I - First appeared in Avengers #21 (Oct 1965)
Competitors and allies
Various criminals have attempted to unify the American East Coast's independent criminal groups so as to compete with the Maggia domination of organized crime. Other lesser criminal organizations may in fact cooperate and work for Maggia, pay street taxes, or manage to operate under the radar of Maggia.
The most successful competitor of Maggia has been the Kingpin, who at his peak was more powerful than all the Maggia families combined.
As noted above, the principal leaders of all three major Maggia families are, to one extent or another, no longer in ideal leadership positions. With the Kingpin presently exiled from the USA in the wake of Daredevil story arcs, the potential for a power vacuum is huge, and the stage is set for a gang war between any and all challengers.
Recently, a new Spider-Man villain called Mister Negative is plotting to target the Maggia Families, perhaps hoping to take the Kingpin's place. The supervillain The Hood has also recently formed a supervillain crime syndicate which enlists various costumed criminals in an attempt to gain control of the underworld.
Other lesser crime bosses include Slug (a Miami-based drug kingpin) and the Owl. Whether they are connected to Maggia or manage to operate separately is unknown. Don Fortunato once managed to gain control of much of New York City's underworld in the absence of the Kingpin. Although Fortunato seems to run a traditional Mafioso organized crime group, he is actually connected to the Maggia and the terrorist organization known as HYDRA. Mr. Fish was mentioned to have planned to start a Maggia branch in his area.
Although the Maggia organization is, for the most part, analogous in the Marvel Universe to the real life Italian and Italian-American Mafia or La Cosa Nostra, there exists in the Marvel Universe other Italian crime families that resemble more closely the real La Cosa Nostra or Mafia. Some of these families and organizations have been referred to as "the Mafia" in recent comics, but it is unknown whether or not these families ultimately operate under Marvel's Maggia organization or are a part of a separate, more realistic La Cosa Nostra organization in the Marvel universe. As most of these organizations operate on a crew-based street level and specialize in traditional organized crime rather than super-powered organized crime, it is possible they are not connected to the more powerful Maggia. Examples of these organizations include:
- The Costa crime family, which at one point used Billy "the Beaut" Russo (AKA Jigsaw) as an enforcer and hitman.
- The Pazzo crime family.
- The Roman crime family.
- The Gnucci crime family (known for the infamous Ma Gnucci).
- The Angelone crime family.
In other media
- In the Iron Man episode "Beauty Knows No Pain", Madame Masque mentions her connections to the Maggia when she and her henchmen were looking for the Golden Sepulcher of Isis.
- In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, the Maggia are led by Count Nefaria and rivals of the Tong (led by the Mandarin). The low-level Maggia operatives wear suits and white masks. The Maggia first appear in "Secrets and Lies" when Nefaria orders Unicorn and Killer Shrike to kidnap Gene Khan to put pressure on the Tong. Ultimately, Gene as the Mandarin takes them captive before the police could find him. In "Meltdown", Maggia thug Arthur Parks becomes the Living Laser while stealing experimental technology from Stark International. Months later in "Pepper Interrupted", Nefaria agrees to a parley with the Mandarin where he gives Unicorn and Killer Shrike back to him. He and his bodyguard the Black Knight are arrested following a battle with the Tong. In "Armor Wars," Count Nefaria and his henchmen rob a bank when Guardsmen members Force and Shockwave appeared. Count Nefaria managed to knock down Force and Shockwave, but was defeated by Iron Man while the remaining Maggia thugs were taken down by Force and Shockwave. It was later revealed by Pepper to Tony upon going into the FBI Database that Force and Shockwave worked for the Maggia before being outfitted with the Guardsmen armor by Obadiah Stane which meant to Tony that Force and Shockwave have staged the bank robbery all along (judging from an earlier comment by Count Nefaria, they gave him false data about the bank containing valuable hardware).
- The Maggia were mentioned in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes episodes "Everything is Wonderful" and "Widow's Sting".
- In the 2008 Iron Man video game, the Maggia is a weapons manufacturing company in contract with Stark Industries. When Tony Stark announces his company is no longer producing weapons, Maggia attacks his building and steal a helicopter which Stark destroys in his Iron Man Mark II suit. He then travels to Afghanistan where the Maggia has been working with the Ten Rings and supplying them with weapons. He then cripples the production capabilities of Maggia, hits their main compound, and takes down their airship forcing the company into bankruptcy.
- ^ Scott Shaw at Comic Book Resources, "Why did Marvel Comics refer to the mafia as the Maggia?"
- ^ Amazing Spider-Man #618-620
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