Fata Morgana, Red Queen II
5' 2" (variable)
115 lbs (variable)
X-Men Annual (1st series) #4
Stefan Szardos (son, deceased),
Jimaine Szardos / Amanda Sefton (daughter),
Kurt Wagner / Nightcrawler (adoptive son)
former fortune teller
The Winding Way,
formerly Hellfire Club London,
Sorceress of the Winding Way, possessing
an ever-varying level of mystical power,
capable of glamour illusions, teleportation,
mental manipulation, transmutation, casting
of mystical energy, clairvoyance, and various
The early years of Margali Szardos have yet to be chronicled, but she was apparently born in Paris, France and, at some point, joined a wandering circus. As with the females in her family before her, Margali was a disciple of the practice of magic known as the Winding Way (or Winding Path), and Margali claimed that it was her family's responsibility to protect the Winding Way. The Winding Way was a path to magical power and enlightenment, where one's mystical strength constantly waxed and waned. Periods of god-like power would be followed by humbling powerlessness, encouraging grow of character as well as ability. One of Margali's most well-used abilities was the power of self-alteration, frequently disguising her older, frail form as a younger version of (presumably) herself. However, most commonly, she took the form of a green-skinned woman with a ram-horn headpiece.
During travels in Germany, Margali met the demon Azazel and the two apparently became good friends, at least according to Azazel. [mentioned in Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #432] At some point, Margali settled with the Der Jahrmarkt circus in Winzeldorf, Germany, where she acted as the circus' fortune teller, all while continuing to practice her own magical powers on the quest of the Winding Way. [Nightcrawler (3rd series) #8]
Margali worked alongside other sorceresses, Lilia Calderu and Maria Russoff. Together, they discovered a young girl who would eventually become a powerful sorceress that straddled magic and science. Knowing that they needed her for their coven, the two set about to recruit the young girl and activate her powers. That young girl was Wanda Maximoff, who lived with her gypsy parents, Django and Marya. Unfortunately, the plan backfired when other sorcerers interfered. Worse, the powerful Chthon became involved, demanding that Wanda Maximoff be left uninfluenced by others until the time was right for he to control her. During the confrontation, Margali acted to protect young Wanda and, in the aftermath, was foretold that she would bear her own child of occult significance. [Mystic Arcana: Scarlet Witch]
And indeed she did. With an unknown mate, Margali first gave birth to her son Stefan and, about two years later, to her daughter Jimaine. Around the same time, Margali had a third child come into her life, a young orphan with an obvious mutation named Kurt Wagner. Details are conflicting on whether Margali found by Kurt by chance after he was abandoned by his mother Mystique, or whether Azazel had influence on Margali becoming Kurt's foster mother. At any rate, Margali raised Kurt lovingly and her adoptive son became close with both Stefan and Jimaine. However, Margali's treatment of her special boy started to create some anger in Stefan. [Uncanny X-Men (1st series) #428, X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #19, Nightcrawler (3rd series) #8]
As she and Kurt developed feelings for each other in their teenage years, Jimaine also started to desire to see the world. However, Margali would not accept Jimaine leaving her, the circus or the Winding Way, and showed Jimaine an illusion of the Soul Sword, revealing to Jimaine that it would be her destiny to wield the sword. This did not persuade Jimaine though and, when she was packing to leave, Margali appeared before Jimaine in disguise as Belasco and threatened her. Jimaine then heard a scream and rushed to the big top to find her trainer, Sabu, dead, unaware that it was Margali who orchestrated this in an attempt to keep her at the circus. Jimaine was particularly shaken by this, as Sabu had been performing in her absence. [Excalibur #minus1]
With Jimaine now uneasily under her control, Margali's other biological child, Stefan, began to fall under an influence that caused him to act strangely. For unknown reasons, Margali did not become involved in the ills troubling her son, but Kurt found himself promising Stefan that he would do whatever it took to stop him. After Stefan killed some local village children, Kurt confronted his adopted brother, which resulted in Stefan’s death. When others investigated, Kurt was found standing over the bodies of the children and the villagers chased him into the night, believing him their killer. Effectively, Margali was robbed of both her sons. [Uncanny Origins #8, Nightcrawler (3rd series) #8-11, X-Men Annual (1st series) #4, Marvel Comics Presents (1st series) #101-108]
Time passed and Margali had come to blame Kurt for the death of Stefan. At some point, Jimaine left the circus to fulfill her own dream of seeing the world. Assuming the guise of “Amanda Sefton,” she became a stewardess and sometime thereafter found Kurt, now a member of the X-Men and known as Nightcrawler. For reasons of her own, Jimaine maintained the identity of Amanda Sefton with him and, even after the two began a relationship, Kurt remained unaware that Amanda was his teenage sweetheart, Jimaine. [X-Men (1st series) #98] Knowing of her mother's anger towards Kurt, Jimaine arranged for Kurt, several members of the X-Men and Dr. Strange to be transported to a facsimile of Dante's Inferno that Margali had created to enact her revenge. It was there that Margali and Dr. Strange first encountered each other and battled. Despite Strange being the world’s Sorcerer Supreme, the skills of the two were equally matched. Possibly this was due to Margali’s use of a wand as the conduit of her powers, although when and from where she obtained this wand is unknown. During the battle, Margali was confronted with the truth of her son’s death, thanks to the abilities of Dr. Strange's Eye of Agamotto. Margali apologized to Kurt and departed, warning him that they would meet again soon, for they had much to catch up on. [X-Men Annual (1st series) #4]
At a time of great weakness along the Winding Way, Margali sent Jimaine to Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, because word had spread that Strange was apparently seeking a new disciple. When Dr. Strange called a meeting to talk to the many would-be disciples, he told them that he was not seeking a new student. This caused Jimaine to lash out at Strange for not accepting her as his student. Margali, calling herself the Sorceress Supreme, then finally revealed herself, confronting Strange for denying Jimaine the chance to further her mystical abilities. Margali, Jimaine, Dr. Strange and the would-be disciples were transported to another realm, where Margali battled Strange. Even as Strange cast a spell to counter Margali and the giantess size she presented herself in, she was able to stand her ground and eventually defeat him. However, Dr. Strange may have been faking his defeat, as he grabbed the mysterious wand from Margali and cast it into a circle of Cyttorak to protect it. With her current source of power gone, Margali's weakness exposed itself and she reverted to her true form, seemingly grateful to Dr. Strange for freeing her. [Dr. Strange (2nd series) #57]
Free from the wand's corruption, Margali and Amanda left Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum and returned to Amanda's Manhattan apartment, where apparently Margali remained for a few days before she returned to Winzeldorf. [Dr. Strange (2nd series) #58]
Margali spent the next few years maintaining an extremely low profile, but remained in contact with Amanda, who eventually joined the European super hero team, Excalibur, of which Nightcrawler was a founding member. At a low point of power along the Winding Way, Margali was captured by the Fear-Lord, D'Spayre, whose power was growing, strengthened as he fueled the discontent that was growing within Germany. Unable to act against D'Spayre, Margali was counting on the help of her children. However, after Amanda collected Nightcrawler and teleported him to Germany, she was unable to go any further, as D'Spayre would sense her. Forced to search for their mother alone, Kurt was attacked by an angry mob and knocked out, all of which Margali helplessly watched through a scrying pool. D'Spayre laughed at the rescue attempt, but Margali was given strength by Kurt's arrival and cast a spell through the scrying pool, though D'Spayre prevented it from succeeding. Kurt eventually recovered on his own and was able to confront D'Spayre, just in time before Margali withered to a husk and D'Spayre claimed her power for his own. D'Spayre was defeated and Margali freed, no real harm having come to her. However, she was concerned about how Nightcrawler would react to her after he recently learned about his birth mother, Mystique. Although Kurt was furious with Margali, this fury could not replace the love that the gypsy woman once gave him. [Excalibur (1st series) #76-77]
Still at a low point of power along the Winding Way, Margali managed to get herself to Cairo, Egypt to see Amanda. Though she was still a member of Excalibur, Amanda nevertheless still maintained her job as a stewardess so she could continue to see the world and happened to be in Cairo on a stopover.
Margali appeared as a street beggar before Amanda and informed her daughter of a sorcerer called Gravemoss, who was not only ahead of her on the Winding Way but who was a deviant that was warping the Way. Worse, this Gravemoss intended to steal a weapon that would enable him to kill all those ahead of him on the Way. That weapon was none other than the Soulsword, the weapon Margali long ago told Amanda that would be her destiny to wield. Powerless, Margali asked her daughter to stop Gravemoss and steal the Soul Sword. Amanda agreed and returned Margali to Germany before she ventured to Muir Island.
Trouble involving the Soulsword and Gravemoss was already playing out on Muir Island, the home of Excalibur. Fortunately, Amanda was eventually able to help her teammates defeat Gravemoss and she removed him from the Winding Way. Afterwards, when Kitty Pryde handed her the Soulsword, it became bonded to her. Margali was then given the sword by Amanda, at which point the bond was transferred to Margali – which is what the old woman wanted all along. [Excalibur (1st series) #83-85]
After leaving her daughter, Margali then used the Soulsword to kill everyone that was ahead of her on the Winding Way. She then strung their ghosts around her caravan and made a new, young, red-headed body for herself. Margali was finally at the peak of her power, both on the Winding Way and as the owner of the Soulsword. When Amanda went to visit her mother, she was shocked at the discovery she made and realized that this was her fault for giving Margali the Soulsword. As if this startling discovery wasn't enough, Margali revealed to Amanda that there was a demon under London and that she was going to control and suck dry its power too. [Excalibur (1st series) #85, 100]
To further her plans to wrest control of the demon and add to her expanded power, Margali joined the London branch of the Hellfire Club as its Red Queen. The London branch of the Hellfire Club was also associated with the enigmatic organization called Black Air, and together the two groups arranged for Excalibur's Douglock to be abducted. The techno-organic being was then beheaded and placed in the Blackwall, Black Air's headquarters in London. Margali was also magically influencing the Red King to help her further her own plans, seducing him into being her pawn. Her pieces in place, Margali placed her hands on Douglock's head, which was linked to the power source in the crypt beneath London, intending to absorb the power from the demon. To her horror, her hands became fused to Douglock's techno-organic head and, instead of her draining its power, the hungry demon began draining her of her powers. Unable to cancel the link, Margali’s power surged through the Blackwall, freeing the demon and starting a fire which spread through London.
Excalibur alone was left to deal with the trouble spreading across London, the demon and the Hellfire Club. Locating Margali in the catacombs beneath London, Nightcrawler, Amanda and Wolfsbane teleported to her location, where they found her now-withered form still connected to Douglock. After Wolfsbane severed the connection, Amanda used her power to seal the demon's tomb, trapping the creature once more. Unfortunately, in the process, Margali faded away. [Excalibur (1st series) #96-100]
Afterward, Amanda led Colossus and Wolfsbane to Margali's caravan in the German countryside, hoping to find the missing Margali. Instead, they found the caravan empty and quickly departed when they heard evil laughter. [Excalibur (1st series) #102] In truth, Margali wasn't at her caravan because she was being held prisoner by Belasco. The demon had taken the Soulsword from Margali, claiming himself as its rightful owner. [Excalibur (1st series) #103]
Belasco planned to use the Soulsword to wrest control of Limbo and, fearing for her own safety and that of the Winding Way, Margali knew she had only one option, though it was a diabolical one. She cast a spell that transferred her mind into Jimaine's body, at which point Jimaine's mind became trapped in Margali's caged body within Limbo. [X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #19] Margali appeared as Amanda to Excalibur for only a brief time and, though she acted somewhat strangely during that period, no one in Excalibur, not even Nightcrawler, detected that something so dire was transpiring. Soon after, “Amanda” quit Excalibur, without even saying goodbye to Nightcrawler. [X-Man #26, Excalibur (1st series) #108]
Belasco offered Nightcrawler the return of Margali in exchange for permanent control of the Winding Way and warned him that Amanda was up to trouble at their old circus. Though Kurt didn't believe the illusions of his dead circus friends that Belasco showed him, he nevertheless eventually returned to the circus, where he found “Amanda” practicing the dark arts. Margali did not yet reveal herself to her foster son, who spilled his own blood over a pentagram so that they could transport to Limbo. There, they were confronted by S'ym, who quickly exposed Margali, whose face and signature ram’s horns appeared over Amanda's face, leaving Nightcrawler confused. After she defeated S'ym, Margali explained to Kurt how she transferred her mind into Amanda's body, even though she knew it cost what she had left of her soul. Kurt was shocked at how Margali could do this to her own daughter, and told her he wasn't sure if he could call her “mother” again.
When Margali was soon taken by a recovered S'ym, Kurt teleported into Belasco's citadel, where he promptly rescued Amanda. This surprised Belasco, who had no idea that Amanda had been his captive. Amanda was then able to relieve Belasco of the Soulsword, sending it tumbling down into the barren wastelands around his citadel. When Margali then returned, Belasco lunged at her, but Margali phased at the last moment and Belasco fell into a large pit in the ground, which closed up around him. The crisis over, Margali switched hers and Amanda’s minds back into their true bodies and asked her daughter for forgiveness. Amanda gave it, but at the same time warning her mother that she must promise to never pull a stunt like that again. Margali was relieved to know that Kurt still considered her his mother, and he told her he may be able to forgive her one day. Margali then bade her children farewell and she vanished, leaving Amanda to assume the role as Mistress of Limbo. [X-Men Unlimited (1st series) #19]
Margali returned to her native Paris, France and used her power to portray herself in a much younger body with blonde hair. There, she found herself under assault by the inter-dimensional group called the Ruined. These aliens were bent on taking over the Earth, and a group of them called the Quintessence planned to drain Margali's power. Seeing her as this Earth's Sorceress Supreme, they intended to use her power to merge their dimension with Paris. Margali lamented how her children would laugh to see her reduced to this state but knew that, if they were there, they would fight for her. Though Kurt and Amanda were not aware of their mother's crisis, the Fantastic Four were in Paris and by chance came to Margali's aid, defeating the Ruined and freeing Margali from their hold. [Fantastic Four (3rd series) #20]
Unfortunately for Margali, she found herself imprisoned and incommunicado by the Parisian government for “the good of the state.” In need of magical assistance and unable to locate any of their regular magical associates, the Fantastic Four returned to Paris where they knew Margali was incarcerated. Freed and aided by Mechamage, Margali teleported the Fantastic Four to a portion of Limbo which she had claimed as her own. In fact, she had even based Der Jahrmarkt there. Fearing the lives of the Fantastic Four were in danger, Margali determined that they, and Alyssa Moy, had been infected with a magical virus that would consume their souls. Margali worked alongside Mechamage, Alyssa Moy, Hellstorm and the Fantastic Four on an adventure that took them to the Hellfire Club, where they battled Blackheart and Selene, as it was determined Blackheart was responsible for the infection. The Fantastic Four were cured and, in the aftermath, Margali, Mechamage and Alyssa Moy decided to remain working together as the Shadow Hunters. Margali explained that they each had past sins to atone for. [Fantastic Four Annual 1999]
Margali's heroism continued for a time and she even aided other magic users during the crisis known as Maximum Security, during which the cosmic entity known as Ego the Living Planet started to assimilate the Earth's bio-sphere. During the crisis, Margali worked alongside the likes of the Scarlet Witch and Agatha Harkness to keep Ego at bay. [Maximum Security #3]
Apparently no longer working with the Shadow Hunters, Margali journeyed to Limbo, where she was horrified to find her daughter being brutalized by the demonic Nightmare. Margali quickly subdued Nightmare and trapped him, demanding to know why the demon had come to find the Soulsword. However, she soon realized that Nightmare was being used as a puppet, carrying out the bidding of another. Margali and Amanda determined that a serious mystical imbalance was occurring and journeyed to find Nightcrawler, who had been under mystical assault himself. Margali and Amanda revealed to Nightcrawler that the Soulsword was hidden within him, and Margali proceeded to pull the Soulsword from her foster son.
When the demon Hive, which was revealed to have been the cause of Nightcrawler's recent troubles, possessed Wolverine, Margali gave the Soulsword to Kurt, instructing him on how to use it to kill the demon. However, Margali was taken aback when Kurt rejected her guidance and announced that he would keep the Soulsword inside of him for the time being. [Nightcrawler (3rd series) #9-11] Margali next actions are unknown, but she apparently returned to Der Jahrmarkt. Sometime later, Margali and Amanda, who was no longer the Mistress of Limbo, had a falling out. Although the reasons are unknown, they barely spoke to each other afterwards. [Nightcrawler (4th series) #2]
Margali's desire for power reared its ram-horned head again when she learned that Kurt, who had been dead for some time, had been rescued from the Afterlife, and that Azazel had been there too. Margali desperately craved access to this realm beyond, so she set about one of her most horrible schemes yet, sending a robot called Trimega to terrorize Amanda and the recently returned Kurt. As Trimega's intended target was Amanda, they believed Margali might be in danger as well. Despite the bad blood between them and their mother, the two teleported to Winzeldorf and soon arrived at Der Jahrmarkt, where they found Margali seemingly fine. Margali claimed ignorance of the Trimega and reminded her children that she walked the Winding Way and had no use for automatons. When several Trimegas suddenly attacked the circus, Kurt and Amanda battled them, but they were ultimately stopped by Margali, who easily cast the Trimegas away. Seeking help, Margali accompanied Kurt and Amanda to the Jean Grey School, where they were met with hostility by Storm and several other X-Men, who still did not trust Margali. The Beast and Storm took Margali into custody, which is what Margali planned all along. She cast a spell of enchantment over the two senior X-Men and tore from them their memories, specifically their recollection of recent events involving Kurt's resurrection and their journey to the Afterlife.
Armed with the knowledge she desired, Margali unleashed an army of Trimegas upon the Jean Grey School. Nightcrawler and Wolverine led the assault against the Trimegas, while the X-Men protected the school and the students. Amanda was able to reverse the harm Margali's spell caused Storm and Beast, while Margali opened the portal to the realm beyond. She claimed that this was her lifelong dream and boasted to Kurt that she would claim the realm beyond as her own. Margali had no interest in listening to Kurt as he simultaneously battled her bodyguard Trimega and tried to talk her down. Even Amanda could not convince Margali to close the portal, so Kurt knocked Margali out, after which he and Amanda leapt into the portal to close it from the other side. Unfortunately, in doing so, Amanda became trapped on the other side, though she was able to save the world by closing the portal. [Nightcrawler (4th series) #1-4]
Margali was last seen under the watch of several of Kurt's Bamfs, and has presumably been placed in custody. Nevertheless, the power-hungry sorceress has a way of making an appearance when it is least expected.