The true history of the Magi is difficult to separate from the fictions they perpetuate. According to Magi history, the organization was formed by Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia. The future Pope hired a secret army of Sicilian killers and mystics to serve as his personal defense force against the White Lotus Society's assassins.
As in Assassin's Creed, the Borgias were members of the Knights Templar in HED! Somewhat disappointingly, their replacements were no better and even the non-Templar Cardinals of the Vatican at this time were often deeply unpleasant people.
This group, after the fall of Pope Alexander the Sixth, fled back to Sicily and began accumulating power for themselves. Supposedly; they worked as mercenaries, bankers, and wizards-for-hire. If this story were true, the Magi's history would actually predate the Cosa Nostra proper by a number of centuries.
In truth, the Illuminati do have records of a gang of thugs they used as cats paws against the White Lotus Society (that eventually became part of the Cosa Nostra) but it's not exactly a history as illustrious as the Magi's own illuminated books depict it as being. They're all forgeries, anyway. Basically, the Borgia-created Magi were a gang of murderers and bandits with a little bit of Sicilian folk magic.
The next few centuries were spent being cruel and abusive feudal overlords on Sicily, torturing and abusing peasants while reminiscing about their glory days. When the Sicilian mafia was created in the 19th century following the fall of feudalism, the Magi were there. Mostly because, cowards and bullies they were, the Magi saw new potential for power.
Despite being better organized and richer, the Magi were surprisingly only a minor part of the early Cosa Nostra. It helped, by this time, that the Magi were only a few feuding families with an exaggerated sense of self-importance. Feuds and vendettas between several of the houses (plus covert actions against them by the Knights Hospitaller) lead to the surviving Magi families only remaining a "creepy" part of the larger organization.
That is, until Baron Malus.
Don Alfredo Roberto Giovanni Gaspari was a confidence man with ties to the remaining families of the Magi. He's since been elevated to supernatural status by the Magi but his early history was somewhat pathetic, fleecing rich women of support for a non-existent Sicilian Civil War with himself as the brother of a (fictitious) exiled prince.
Nevertheless, made wealthy from the inheritance of several Westerners, Don Alfredo used it to construct a vast estate and remodel his family home. During this, he discovered, of all things The Book of Orkus.
The real thing, not a copy. Albeit, 111 of its 666 pages were missing.
Summoning Quasimodo since he couldn't get Orkus himself, Don Alfredo sold his soul and the soul of all of his descendants in exchange for real magic.
He needed to do the later since Quasimodo was less than impressed with the service of a aging con man.
Soon becoming the most powerful mafioso in Sicily, he was forced to flee the island with his entire family due to the White Lotus Society sending a dozen highly trained witch hunters after rumors of his perversions reached their ears.
Ironically, he was only guilty of about one out of ten.
Wealthy and supernatural in early 20th century America, he decided to resume his old trade and gave himself the unearned title of Baron Malus. New Amsterdam was almost completely absent of organized mafia activity and the Four Families trace their descent directly back to his five illegitimate children (The ironically named Baron family having since been wiped out).
Don Alfredo recruited a small army into his service from local immigrants and terrorized the city for several years until Antaeus beat down his door and smacked him around, magic or no magic.
In fact, the first issue of SUPER! comics depicts Antaeus beating down the door of an unnamed mafia
Don before slapping the **** out of it. This, in fact, was Don Alfredo.
Fearing Antaeus above all things, Don Alfredo allied with James Moriarty II who had created a network of most of the other major mobs in the country. Don Alfredo considered James Moriarty II a peer while Moriarty considered him a peon.
Its an apocryphal story; Don Alfredo summoned a hundred demons to force James Junior into becoming his slave, only for the Moriarty scion to pull out a hand-held orihalcon-powered death ray and obliterate them all.
Despite the two men consistently failing to eliminate the superheroes of America, the magi benefited tremendously and became almost as powerful as the mafia proper.
Then Mussolini happened.
By the time Hitler unveiled his Bio-Blitzkrieg project, Mussolini was desperate to have any sort of edge to make him more than a puppet leader. To this end, he made an offer to Don Alfredo to come back and become sole-remaining crime lord of Italy. Given Mussolini was the determined enemy of the mafia, this must have stuck in his craw (or he never intended to fulfill his part of the bargain). For the better part of WW2, comics were filled with stories of Baron Malus working with the Italians as a stereotypical archvillain.
The Magi were almost totally destroyed outside of New Amsterdam with their leader turning fascist. What mafiosi who weren't disgusted by his treason against Sicily *AND* America were revolted by the fact he was allied with the mafia's biggest enemy.
Many of their own troops abandoned them and no one objected when the Feds came crashing through their door. To this day, the Magi claims Baron Malus never worked with Mussolini and it was an imposter/clone/robot thing. New Amsterdam's families, ironically, survived by severing ties with him.
Baron Malus actually achieved a good deal of success as a magical supervillain. For a while, he was considered as dangerous as Count Reich and was believed by Allies to be plotting to assume control of the Axis via dark magic.
The Magi managed to recover, albeit very slowly, recruiting from the bottom of the barrel and behaving in about as nasty a manner as anyone could imagine. Still, for about thirty years, "Maggie" was a swear word in the American and Sicilian mafias. Really, it was Bugsy Siegal's most questionable move to invite their remnant to participate in the construction of Las Vegas.
The group actually had its biggest successes in Europe, its remnants recruited by Death Mask III to serve as the basis for PHANTOM's burgeoning network of spies. Millions poured in from that alliance and the group found itself possessed of advanced weaponry and government contacts that made it powerful again. By the 1972, the year low-ranking gambling hall manager Johnny Vice was elected "Boss of Bosses" as a means of drawing out assassins, the group was once more incredibly powerful.
Johnny Vice, actually, arranged for the election as a "joke" by careful manipulation. Already, he'd managed to make millions in the cocaine trade and building some of the most successful dance clubs in the country. Millions he made expansive use of to become even more rich and powerful.
The Magi is no more immune to bribes than any other criminal organization and his careful investment of the organization's funds in legitimate businesses (as well as gambling) stabilized the group in America. It didn't hurt that, oddball as he was, he was happy to murder anyone who got in his way.
Ironically, he's still considered something of a joke due to his flamboyant mannerisms and is frequently the subject of sexually derogatory remarks.
The retirement of Johnny Vice lead to a very awkward transition of power when Baron Malus returned from exile in Sicily, apparently no worse for wear despite forty years having passed. Baron Malus, now insisting EVERYONE call him by this title, began using his magic and stolen PHANTOM technology to create superpowered soldiers for his plots to take over the world! Well, not quite that bad but seizing nuclear missiles, trying to kill the Patriots, and kidnapping the Prime Minister of Italy to replace with a homunculus are just some of the subversive activities they participated in.
Which is why everyone breathed a sigh of relief when young Serena Mass reversed a spell to make him a god and seemingly killed him for good.
In fact, it didn't. Baron Malus is now genuinely immortal as an energy-based Anti-God. It's just he's an Anti-God with no other abilities than his immortality. Immortality which sucks because since he can't die, heavy-hitters like Athena and Divinos have no problem tearing him to pieces as soon as they find him.
He's been killed seven times since his original death. Almost always within days of his regeneration.
The Organization, as it's nicknamed, passed into the hands of Ganglord Gorilla. Falconcrest City's magi overlord wasn't yet a walking simian but was already well known for being a vicious murdering sociopath. When Doctor Necros transplanted his mind into a gorilla, most of the Magi abandoned their allegiance but ended up being dragooned into the International Crime League by their leadership. Amusingly, Ganglord Gorilla never realized how much his own former organization disdained him.
Replacing Ganglord Gorilla as Boss of Bosses was, of all people, Vanessa Gaspari. The innocent daughter of Baron Malus' latest mistress, the Four Families revealed her heritage to the public and ruined her life before forcing her into the business. Arranging for the murder of her adoptive family and blaming it on the Black Hand, the Magi gave her a crash course in criminal mastermind behavior and made her Baroness Malus.
A known romantic foil to Black Wing II and Steel Commando III during their international adventures.
Eventually, Baroness Malus discovered the Magi were responsible for her adoptive family's death and had a nervous breakdown. She's still institutionalized and the organization is currently without a leader. That doesn't mean it's not one of the most powerful criminal empires in the world and is certainly the strongest in New Amsterdam.