Masters of Evil
"Magnum Force" that channels seismic energy through his system, giving him superhuman strength and resistance to physical injury, vibrational sensitivity that translates into super-hearing and geological detection, and can release seismic energy as blasts of pure force or ground tremors that create earthquakes at his command
Moses Magnum was born in Ethiopia, the second most populated country in Africa. He had a fascination with weapons from an early age, one that exceeded any concern for the life and well-being of others. When Benito Mussolini invaded Ethiopia in the name of Italian fascism, Magnum sided against his own people for the opportunity to test out the invaders' weaponry. Perhaps because of this, Magnum left Ethiopia at some point and became a naturalized American citizen. As an adult, Moses Magnum founded the Deterrence Research Corporation, an international weapons manufacturer and arms dealing company. DRC had little regard for international law, experimenting with armaments and biological weapons banned under the Geneva Convention. After Stark Industries stopped producing weapons, Moses Magnum announced his intention to replace Tony Stark as the world's foremost arms dealer.
Magnum's supporters developed a new form of bio-chemical gas for deployment on battle fields, toxic vapors that disintegrated living tissue in a horrific manner. To test and monitor the effects, Magnum arranged for DRC to kidnap a cross-section of people from around the world and bring them to a hidden South American death camp. Kidnap victims could then be exposed to the gas in laboratory settings or released and hunted down in live fire scenarios, without any authorities standing in his way.
Moses Magnum was assaulted by Spider-Man and the Punisher, who raided DRC in order to find out about the kidnapping victims. Spider-Man deliberately allowed himself to be captured in the raid, planning for Magnum to take him to the camp so that Punisher could follow them. Once Punisher arrived as back-up, the two men freed the camp prisoners and began dismantling the operation. Spider-Man fought Magnum hand-to-hand until Punisher arrived and shot open the cannister of toxic gas Magnum was brandishing. Acting fast, Spider-Man thrust Punisher outside and closed the door, leaving Magnum trapped inside. Believing the mastermind dead, Spider-Man and Punisher evacuated the prisoners and turned them over to the UN for repatriation. [Giant-Size Spider-Man #4]
Lucky for Moses Magnum, he had a secret emergency gas suit built into the lining of his clothes, and activated it to survive the toxic vapors. Undeterred, Magnum moved on to his next project off the coast of Japan. The volcanically active island of Katsyu Shima was potentially a source of limitless power as Magnum used a giant laser to harvest the energies of Earth's molten core. Recognizing the dangers for seismic activity around the Pacific Rim, Magnum planned to kidnap a geophysicist named Samantha Sheridan, working nearby in Tokyo. Sam's extremely wealthy great-grandmother, Amanda Sheridan, learned of Magnum's plans for Sam and hired Luke Cage, Power Man, to protect her. Magnum had already earned Amanda Sheridan's eternal hatred, for her grandson's family were among the kidnapping victims of the toxic gas Moses tested in his last scheme. Amanda Sheridan actually tried to hire Power Man to murder Moses Magnum, but Cage refused to do anything other than protect Samantha.
DRC mercenaries murdered the police protection surrounding Samantha Sheridan's residence, but hit a wall named Luke Cage who kept them from getting ahold of Sam. Using personal enhancement armor for the first time, Moses intervened on behalf of his men, calling himself Magnum Force. He still wasn't able to physically best Cage, but a dose of sleep gas brought down the hero for hire. On the way to Katsyu Shima, Magnum tossed Cage and a traitor among his mercenaries out of a plane. When Power Man nonetheless survived and eventually tracked Sam down on the island, the two were opposed by Moses Magnum once more. Samantha Sheridan tried to convince Magnum that the entire Pacific Rim was in danger because of his mining, but Moses would not listen to her until a volcanic eruption on the site made the discussion moot. Magnum learned the meaning of the phrase "digging your own grave" when he toppled into the chasm cut by his mining laser, seemingly to his death. [Power Man Annual #1]
(Moses Magnum was unwittingly the pawn in a much larger scheme during these events. The ruling council of the lost city of El Dorado, known as They Who Wield Power, needed increased geophysical activity on Earth to rekindle the Sacred Flame of Life, their nation's power source. To accomplish this, the Brotherhood of They provided a number of criminals with the equipment for geological-based crimes. [Incredible Hulk (2nd series) #241] Two of Magnum's soldiers attempted to kill Sam Sheridan on behalf of "the Council" before Magnum could kidnap her. These may have been agents of They trying to stop Sheridan from deterring Magnum's use of the drilling laser.)
Once again, however, Moses Magnum cheated death at the last moment. He was miraculously teleported to safety by the mutant supremacist known as Apocalypse. Apocalypse saw value in Moses Magnum as an agent of chaos, testing humanity to ensure the strong would survive. The Eternal One offered to grant Magnum power enough to cause true chaos... or teleport him back into the pit where he found him. Seeing little alternative, Moses submitted to Apocalypse's transformation process. [Classic X-Men #25]
[Note: In the original version of X-Men #119, the narration explained that Moses Magnum survived the fall unaided and received super-powers spontaneously, a combination of the Earth's molten power mixing with Magnum's enhancement armor and drilling laser technology as they tumbled down the pit with Magnum himself. This was removed from the reprint in Classic X-Men #25, and altered to include additional pages detailing Moses Magnum's encounter with Apocalypse, at the time a recently created character.]
With his newfound power, Moses Magnum branched out from arms dealing to extortion and outright terrorism. From a staging ground on the Kuril Islands, Magnum could make contact with the tectonic plates of the Pacific Rim and influence seismic activity in Japan. He announced his intention to devastate Agarashima with earthquakes, and was true to his word at the appointed deadline. After the successful demonstration of his power, Moses Magnum demanded the prime minister of Japan turn control of the island nation over to him, or he would trigger an earthquake so massive that it would sink the entire island chain.
Nightwing Restorations was able to locate Magnum's base on Kuril, giving Japan's national hero Sunfire and his allies in the X-Men the opportunity to reach Magnum before his next deadline. Sunfire and Cyclops tunneled underneath the ocean to reach the base of the volcano Magnum was using for his headquarters, hoping to catch him off-guard. Moses Magnum's new powers enabled him to sense the disturbance in the earth created by their arrival, however, and he was ready and waiting for the X-Men when they emerged. With one punch, Magnum nearly launched Colossus off the island and into the ocean beyond, and his seismic force bolts easily kept the rest of the heroes at bay. Eventually, Magnum broke off from the X-Men, intending to follow through with his threat on Japan. Banshee realized his sonic powers might work as a counter to Moses Magnum's seismic powers, and warned the rest of the X-Men off the island. As Magnum planted himself inside his machinery and his vibrational surge began to build, Banshee projected sonic vibrations on an equivalent frequency to cancel out the energy beam. Magnum and Cassidy both strained themselves to the utmost, and eventually it wasn't either man but nature itself that gave way, causing the volcano to collapse in on itself, apparently taking Moses Magnum along with it. [X-Men (1st series) #118-119]
Surviving near-death yet again, Moses Magnum went underground for some time. His company DRC fell under new management due to his supposed death, but the new CEO Ivor Carlson was an equally unscrupulous businessman. [Marvel Team-Up (1st series) #86, Spider-Woman (1st series) #34] When Moses resurfaced, he founded a new business known as Magnum Munitions, based out of the United States. After Munitions acquired files and technology from Cybertek after RoXXon Oil sold off that subsidiary's assets, they were raided by Calvin Carr, a scientist at Stark Prosthetics who wanted the cyborg blueprints for artificial limbs instead of super-soldiers. Magnum's agents crossed paths with Carr and Deathlok using Terrordome assault vehicles, but ultimately Moses Magnum chose not to pursue the theft any further to avoid tipping his hand in grander schemes. [Deathlok (2nd series) #11]
Sure enough, Moses Magnum soon managed to quietly overthrow the ruling family of the African nation of Canaan. After leveling AIM headquarters in order to outbid them on major defense contracts, Moses Magnum had the economic clout to revitalize Canaan, and apparently seized control in a bloodless coup. The coup was so quiet that Canaan's security-conscious neighbor Wakanda was completely unaware of the regime change. Moses Magnum had grand plans for Canaan. After using his corporation to revitalize the Canaanite economy and industry, Magnum held a press conference christening Canaan as the new African-American homeland. He opened the borders to any African-Americans who felt marginalized in the United States and wished to return to the motherland where they would be treated as equal citizens without any racism or strife. In order to ensure Canaan's growth and prosperity, Moses Magnum also planned to conquer the unconquered nation of Wakanda, seizing the Great Vibranium Mound in the name of the Canaanites.
He initially tested Wakandan security with a living datastream cyber-hacker named Phreak, and an assassin named Killjoy who failed to murder the Black Panther before the invasion began. When Canaan attacked Wakanda with Magnum's Terrordomes, they not only faced T'Challa and the Wakandan Defense Force but the cyborg soldier Deathlok as well, who had been assisting Wakanda with computer security after Phreak's infiltrations. Moses Magnum underestimated Deathlok's capabilities, perhaps because the man inside the cyborg was a mere computer programmer and pacifist named Michael Collins. Collins' family was threatened by the invasion, however, and so he let his combat computer "off the leash" and decimated the Canaanite attackers, disabling their communications web as well. Deathlok located and confronted Moses Magnum personally, and Moses's "Magnum Force" proved to be woefully outmatched by the angry cyborg. Deathlok's one-man assault weakened the Canaanite forces enough for Wakanda to turn the tide and drive back the invasion. [Deathlok (2nd series) #22-25]
Sometime after the invasion of Wakanda, Moses Magnum lost control of his seismic powers. He could not remain on solid ground without making it seismically unstable, turning him into a walking disaster. Magnum blamed Apocalypse for his troubles, for he had failed to properly sow chaos as the Eternal One demanded. (Whether Apocalypse actually confronted Magnum about his failures, or if the arms dealer reached this conclusion on his own is unclear.) As a consequence, Moses Magnum left Canaan and moved his personal headquarters to the massive cruise liner the Evangeline, hiding his terrorist activities beneath the tourists and casinos populating the upper decks.
Learning of a seismic cannon conceived as a counter-force to help ameliorate the damage of earthquakes, Magnum planned to steal it in hopes that the cannon could stabilize his own powers. A team of Magnum Force mercenaries and Magnum Shell armored troopers attacked an airport in New York to snare the cannon en route to its destination. Through a combination of tactics and threatening innocents, Magnum's strike force succeeded in stealing the cannon despite the intervention of the mighty Avengers. The Avengers tracked Moses Magnum to the Evangeline, however, looking for a second shot at the terrorist. Magnum was in the process of using the seismic cannon on himself when the Avengers intervened. He seriously pissed off Wonder Man by striking down the Scarlet Witch, and Simon torpedoed Magnum off the ship and slammed him into the Caribbean island the cruise liner was passing. Despite some brief hope that the procedure worked, Moses Magnum soon found himself uncontrollably disturbing the earth with tremors once more. Before the Avengers could provide him with any aid or pull him off the island, a fissure opened beneath his feet and Magnum sank deep into the ground, passing entirely from view. [Avengers (3rd series) #8-9]
Moses Magnum was eventually successful in restoring his ability to walk on land. On behalf of Canaan, he attended the Pan-African Congress on the Treatment of Superhumans, orchestrated by the Black Panther to consider a response to the American Superhuman Registration Act, and subsequent Civil War. The powered African nations were unable to reach a consensus on how to address American's activities. [Civil War: Battle Damage Report]
Despite his political success overseas, Magnum continued moving illegal weapons through the United States when the price was right. His scientists discovered a way to combine gamma radiation with Mutant Growth Hormone, creating a last-ditch method of self-defense for the rich and powerful. If ever threatened or captured by hostile forces, a dose of gamma MGH could turn the frugal CEO into a temporary Hulk, able to physically overpower any attackers long enough to secure their safety. As was often the case, however, Magnum's testing phase involved innocent victims being slaughtered or mutated against their will. The Punisher and Spider-Man learned of Magnum's dealings, and Castle arranged a trap for the arms dealer by stealing his prototype of the MGH serum. Despite some setbacks, Spider-Man and the Punisher managed to destroy the serum and capture Magnum. When Spider-Man made a move to turn Punisher over to the police as well, Castle shot Moses Magnum in the stomach, forcing Spider-Man to focus on getting the villain to a hospital instead of chasing him. [Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #577]
Imprisoned in the United States, Moses Magnum was apparently unable to secure his release through diplomatic immunity. He was provided an alternate means of release through secret contact with Norman Osborn, then the head of the Initiative. Magnum participated in a race riot orchestrated by Osborn through one of his other pawns, the white supremacist known as Aryan. This got both men out of detention and into a public courthouse where Emmy Doolan, Cutthroat and the Inquisitor staged a jailbreak for Moses Magnum. (Aryan was killed for his part instead of being freed as well.)
Magnum and his new allies were intended by Osborn to act as sacrificial lambs to improve the media profile of his new Wolverine, Daken. The Dark Wolverine got overconfident dealing with the "D-List villains" and took a seismic pulse to the head from Moses, letting the villains escape. Magnum and Emmy Doolan realized they were being set up by Osborn, and tried to get leverage over him to escape their intended fate. Eventually, Daken helped the group fake their deaths in order to snub his nose at Osborn's machinations, only to hunt them down himself later. The Inquisitor and Emmy Doolan were apparently killed, but Moses Magnum escaped Daken's revenge assault. [Dark Wolverine #78-80]
At some point, Moses Magnum apparently reclaimed the Deterrence Research Corporation, and merged it with his existing Magnum Munitions company. He was in the process of selling cloaked weapon satellites when one was destroyed by a mystically-enhanced Crimson Dynamo. [Iron Man/Thor #1] When Max Fury staged an open invitation for the new Masters of Evil in the sovereign nation of Bagalia, Moses Magnum was one of dozens of super-villains who answered the call. He was seen at the Hole, a bar at the bottom of an unstable pit where the worst of the worst hung out, presumably taking advantage of the lawless culture to make a few good business contacts. [Secret Avengers (1st series) #29] After relocating at least some of his business interests to Rwanda, Moses Magnum also represented the Kigali Clan among the international Four Clans overseen by Boss Yukio. Seated among representatives from the Middle East, Japan and California, the implication was that Moses Magnum commanded all of continental Africa as his territory. These criminal clans used arena combat to settle disputes on territory and business ventures. [Storm (3rd series) #4-5]
Fugitive criminal, legitimate arms dealer, international dictator... Moses Magnum has worn many faces over the years. He is consistent only in his dedication to profit and self-interest.