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Attribution unknown, artist Jack Kirby
|First appearance||The Avengers #13
|Created by||Stan Lee (writer)
Don Heck (artist)
|Type of organization||Organized Crime|
The Maggia is a fictional international crime syndicate appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The organization exists in Marvel's main shared universe, known as Earth 616, as well as other Marvel Earths/Universes. 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.
Comic creator Scott Shaw believes that the Maggia were created to avoid offending the real-life Mafia, as comic book distribution at the time "was Mafia controlled", though it is also likely that Maggia was created in part to avoid offending Italian-Americans in general and because the word "Maggia" was copyrightable.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional organization history
- 3 Known Maggia families
- 4 Competitors and allies
- 5 Other versions
- 6 In other media
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Fictional organization history
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. When the Hawkeyes Kate Bishop and Clint Barton attempted to make a difference in the lives of everyday people by fighting organized crime. Several New York crime families, including the Maggia, struck back against them.
Known Maggia families
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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 following characters have been members of the Maggia's Silvermane family:
- Blackie - Rank unknown. First appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #75.
- Caesar Cicero - The Silvermane Family's lawyer. First appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #73.
- Man Mountain Marko - Silvermane's top lieutenant. First appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #73.
- Rapier - A one-time employee of Silvermane. First appeared in The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #2. Killed by Scourge of the Underworld.
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).
- Big Rock - Rank unknown. First appeared in Fantastic Four #101 (Aug 1970).
- Blackwing - Rank unknown. First appeared in Daredevil #118 (Feb 1975).
- Eel (Lavell) - One-time employee and representative of the Maggia's Gulf Coast. First appeared in Power Man and Iron Fist #92 (April 1983).
- Gimlet - The Top Man's lieutenant who aspired to become the next Top Man. First appeared in Fantastic Four #101 (Aug 1970).
The Nefaria Family
This group bears little resemblance to the rest of the Maggia. The 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)
- Cyclone (Gerard) - First appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #143 (Apr 1975). Killed by Scourge of the Underworld.
- Eel (Stryke) - Former agent. First appeared in Strange Tales #112 (Sep 1963). Killed by Gladiator.
- Whitney Frost - Head of Nefaria family. First appeared in Tales of Suspense #97 (Jan 1968).
- Gladiator - Former member. First appeared in Daredevil #18 (Jul 1966).
- Daniel Lindy - First appeared in Spectacular Spider-Man #22 (Sept 1978).
- Masked Marauder - Former leader of Nefaria family. First appeared in Daredevil #16 (May 1966).
- 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.
- Scarecrow - Former agent. First appeared in Tales of Suspense #51 (Mar 1964).
- Tri-Man - An android created by Masked Marauder that copies the abilities of three low-level crooks. First appeared in Daredevil #22.
- Unicorn - Former agent. First appeared in Tales of Suspense #56 (Aug 1964).
- Whiplash - Former enforcer. First appeared in Tales of Suspense #97 (Jan 1968).
The Costa Family
The Costa Family is associated with the Maggia and was responsible for the death of Frank Castle's family which led to Frank becoming Punisher. At one point, they used Billy "the Beaut" Russo (AKA Jigsaw) as an enforcer and hitman.
The following members are seen in the Costa Family:
- Luis Allegre - Member of the Costa Family. First appeared in Marvel Super Action #1. Killed by the Punisher.
- Bruno Costa - Enforcer of the Costa Family and brother of Frank Costa. First appeared in Marvel Preview #2. Killed by Frank Costa's assassin Audrey.
- Byron Hannigan - Member of the Costa Family. First appeared in Marvel Super Action #1. Killed by the Punisher.
- Leon Kolsky - Member of the Costa Family. First appeared in Marvel Super Action #1. He was killed when Punisher tricked him into firing on an aquarium tank that contained a shark.
- Matt Skinner - Member of the Costa Family. First appeared in Marvel Super Action #1. Killed by the Punisher.
The Nobili Family
The Nobili Family is a struggling Maggia family and have been fighting against other crime family including the Paguro Family. It turns out that some of the members of the Nobili Family are descendants of some Inhumans.
The following members are seen in the Nobili Family.
- Gordon "Gordo" Nobili - The patriarch of the Nobili family. First appeared in Thunderbolts Vol. 2 #14.
- Carmen Nobili - The son of Gordon Nobili. First appeared in Thunderbolts Vol. 2 #14. Killed during the fight against the Paguro Family even when the Thunderbolts interfered.
- Joseph Nobili - The son of Gordon Nobili. First appeared in Thunderbolts Vol. 2 #14. Killed during the fight against the Paguro Family even when the Thunderbolts interfered.
Other Maggia members
The following members do not fall under the category of the other five Maggia families:
- Bobby Peculo - First appeared in Punisher: No Escape #1. Killed by the Punisher.
- Bushmaster - First appeared in Iron Fist #15. He was killed when the process that gave Luke Cage his powers proved too much for him.
- Cyclone (Fresson) - He served as a speaker for the European branches of the Maggia. First appeared in Thunderbolts #3.
- Don Fortunato - Crime Boss. First appeared in Spider-Man #70 (May 1996)
- Eli Rumsford - Enforcer. First appeared in Spectacular Spider-Man #54 (May 1981)
- Gideon Mace - First appeared in Heroes for Hire #3.
- Goldbug - One-time employee. First appeared in Power Man #41.
- Grim Reaper - First appeared in Avengers #52.
- Guido Carboni - Crime Boss. First appeared in Marvel Spotlight #20.
- Harry Dumont - First appeared in Spectacular Spider-Man #54 (May 1981)
- Mind Master - First appeared in Daredevil Annual #4
- Mysterio - First appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #13.
- Nautilus - An enforcer from Chicago. First appeared in Spider-Man Unlimited #6.
- Photon (Jason Dean) - First appeared in Nova #12. He was responsible for murdering Nova's uncle Ralph Rider.
- Razorwind - An enforcer from Chicago. First appeared in Spider-Man Unlimited #6.
- Shigeru Ichihara - A Maggia member who handled all Maggia activities on the Pacific Rim. First appeared in Avengers Vol. 3 #31.
- Simon Marshall - Maggia Chemist. First appeared in Cloak and Dagger #1
- Smuggler - First appeared in Avengers #21 (Oct 1965)
- T.B. Smithson - A Maggia member who controls all Maggia activities in Texas. First appeared in Avengers Vol. 3 #31.
- Tapping Tommy - First appeared in Defenders #30.
- Trapster - First appeared in Fantastic Four #38. He was a member of the Maggia in Thing #4.
- Vic Slaughter - Assassin. First appeared in Morbius the Living Vampire #6.
- Vincent Mangaro - A crime boss who set up a drug-dealing operation in New York. First appeared in Punisher: No Escape #1. Killed by the Punisher.
Competitors and allies
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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.
Spider-Man villain called Mister Negative plotted to target the Maggia Families, perhaps hoping to take the Kingpin's place. The supervillain The Hood has also 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. The original 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 exist 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. These more realistic Italian Mafia organizations are often featured in Punisher comics. 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 Angelone Crime Family -
- The Gnucci Crime Family - It was known for the infamous Ma Gnucci.
- The Pazzo Crime Family -
- The Roman Crime Family -
House of M
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.
- The Maggia appears in Iron Man: Armored Adventures. The Maggia is 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", Count 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). In the episode "Titanium vs. Iron," it is revealed that S.H.I.E.L.D. suspects Justin Hammer of committing illegal activities with one of them selling his technology to the Maggia.
- The Maggia were mentioned in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes in the episode "Everything's Wonderful". A.I.M. was in a weapons deal with the Maggia until it was interrupted by Thor and Wasp.
- The Maggia appears in season two of Agent Carter. A Los Angeles branch of the Maggia back in the 1940s is led by Joseph Manfredi who is a former boyfriend of Agnes Culley under her stage name of Whitney Frost. Joseph Manfredi's Maggia branch was enlisted by Whitney Frost to help her in her experiments with the Zero Matter.
- 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. In an article for IGN, Jeffrey Tseng the Game Director for the Iron Man game explained that the adaptation of the movie script to a game was the perfect opportunity to insert characters and groups from Iron Man's history in order to fill out the game. He declared "... we were looking through Iron Man's history to find characters and groups that would resonate with dedicated fans. Maggia, Advanced Idea Mechanics, Titanium Man, and other characters in the game all came from this extensive research."
- The Maggia also feature prominently in the Facebook game Marvel: Avengers Alliance. They have a whole chapter dedicated to them, culminating in a boss battle with Boomerang, Hammerhead, Hydro-Man, Madame Masque, and Sandman. The Maggia's foot soldiers consist of Maggia Assassins, Maggia Bodyguards, Maggia Captains, Maggia Duelists, Maggia Grunts, Maggia Gunmen, Maggia Henchmen, Maggia Hitmen, and Maggia Thugs.
- The Maggia appears in Marvel Heroes.
- The supervillain book: the evil side of comics and Hollywood
- Scott Shaw at Comic Book Resources, "Why did Marvel Comics refer to the mafia as the Maggia?"
- Amazing Spider-Man #618-620
- Slott Talks “Amazing Spider-Man”, Comic Book Resources
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