Thursday, June 18, 2009

Criminal Organizations of the Marvel Universe: The Maggia

The Marvel Universe is filled with criminals. It needs to be in order to keep the hundreds of existing Marvel heroes busy. Ranging from the petty purse snatcher, to the criminal mastermind, to the frothing madman, criminals abound in the Marvel comics universe.

There are so many that sometimes criminals decide to join together forming syndicates, gangs, and even worldwide terrorist organizations. I'd like to focus on some of these organizations and examine their structure and use of resources.

Let's start with the Maggia. The Maggia are the super-powered mafia of the of the Marvel Universe. Imagine Tony Soprano with an electric whip that spins really fast. Split into loosely connected criminal families, the Maggia controls lots of illicit activity in the Marvel universe including drug trafficking, robbery, and gambling. Most of the time, they keep a low profile and compete with the Kingpin to control illicit dealings in America. Most of the time.

On occasion, the leadership of the Maggia can cause the organization to hit a snag. Count Nefaria (Michael Corleone flying around wearing a cape acting like Al Pacino in "The Devil's Advocate") led his Maggia family to great fame and utter destruction by launching into bold (and ill-conceived) plans to hold the United States hostage.

His decidely hokey approach to organized crime (I don't believe I ever saw sentient animals in tights in the film Goodfellas) has resulted in continuous trouncings by Iron Man, the Avengers and the X-Men at the cost of great financial losses. His investments in radio controlled Ani-Men, super-powered henchmen, and weapons of mass destruction rarely returned the same financial windfalls achieved by other Maggia family leaders Silvermane and Hammerhead who used much more traditional means of gathering revenue. Never once did his grand schemes have their intended outcome. Instead he was blown-up, depowered, blown-up, incarcerated, and finally blown-up.

When his daughter Whitney Frost followed in his foot-steps as Madame Masque, she didn't have much better luck. She managed to maintain her Maggia family's stability slightly better than her father but still managed to get deposed, replaced as Madame Masque, incarcerated, shot a bunch of times, and apparently drowned. Currently, she is serving as super-human gang leader The Hood's fairly creepy consort/assassin. She started as a mafia leader and became a booty call for a man who constantly wears sneakers and wraps a blanket around his head.

Luckily, the Maggia is sub-divided into families, so the economic excesses of one branch do not necessarily affect the other. However, it's likely that the absurd behaviors of more public Maggia leaders will affect the popular perception of the rest of the organization. This makes the Maggia seem less threatening as a whole and may affect their ability to protect and maintain their criminal enterprises. After all, who wants to pay protection money to a man connected with a guy who uses a rotating whip?


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