Black King Sebastian Shaw
- "We'll contact those mutants, just as Xavier plans to, only the Hellfire Club will get there first and recruit them. And if, along the way, we manage to acquire or eliminate some of the X-Men, so much the better."
- ―Sebastian Shaw
The Hellfire Club also known as Council of the Chosen, Checkmate, Free Masons, Lords Cardinal; Inner Circle, The Sacred Ones and The Leaders of Hell was a secret society bent on global domination that was also secretly run by Mutants.
The Hellfire Club began in England as a social club for the social elite and wealthy in 1718. At some point, a handful of the most powerful members emigrated to the American colonies and began a branch in New York City.
Two centuries later, White King Edward “Ned” Buckman gave the support of the ‘’’Council of the Chosen’’’ (the ruling body of the Hellfire Club) to Stephen Lang and his mutant hunting Sentinels. Backing Lang turned into a disaster, and a Sentinel attack on Sebastian Shaw's home led to the death of Lourdes Chantel. Out for revenge, Shaw and Gallio slaughtered the Council of the Chosen. Renaming the ruling body the Inner Circle, Shaw and Frost begin to surround themselves with other mutants.
The Hellfire Club counted among its members many famous and influential members of society. Membership was passed on to descendants, and could be earned through wealth or influence. The club had branches in New York City, Paris, Hong Kong and London. The various branches were overseen by the Lord Imperial.
Many of the wealthiest and most powerful businessmen of the world, including Tony Stark and Norman Osborn, have inherited or gained membership to the Hellfire Club. While many accepted the invitation merely for the pleasures that the Club offered, many others sought out to obtain wealth and influence. In fact, the purpose of the Hellfire Club was to obtain and exert power through politics and economic influence instead of outward conquest and domination. Since its foundation, the Hellfire Club had been involved in wars and assassinations as long as these helped further the agendas of the Club's most prominent members.
Unbeknownst to most members of the club, the organization was ruled by a Council of the Chosen. This secret group later renamed itself the Inner Circle and assumed the titles of chess pieces. Originally the Inner Circle was composed of normal humans, but was slowly infiltrated and dominated by super-powered mutants of various abilities as well as vampires. Though not always the most powerful of mutantkind, the Inner Circle allowed within its rank only those of exceptional ability. A common theme, though with exceptions, was for the White and Black queens of the organization to possess a psychic ability of some nature, no doubt aiding the organization to further their conspiracies.
kidnapped several X-Men and took over the mind of Dark Phoenix. Though the X-Men unraveled the Hellfire Club's scheme, the meddling with Phoenix's mind led her to become Dark Phoenix.
They were eventually defeated and Phoenix returned to her Jean Grey persona. Wolverine inflicted lethal injuries on several of its mercenaries during this time. However, the influential organization continued its activities even after being thwarted by the X-Men. Although the hierarchy of the Inner Circle would go through constant upheaval due to the competing egos and political motives of its members, it continued to exist in the same basic structure.
New York BranchEdit
The constant intrigue, backstabbing, blackmailing and politicking that plagued the Hellfire Club resulteded in many changes of the Inner Circle, as new players sought out membership in order to obtain influence, power and wealth. The following lists the membership of each incarnation of the inner circle and the title they held. Up until his death, Sir Gordon Phillips bore the title of Lord Imperial, and as such he oversaw all branches of the Hellfire Club; he was not a member of any particular Inner Circle, he was above all of them.
Council of the ChosenEdit
The original Inner Circle prior to Shaw and Frost's takeover of the New York Branch Hellfire Club.
The rest of the membership was never named. Like Paris, they were gunned down by Buckman under Emma Frost's mind control. Ned Buckman was responsible for a Sentinel attack on Shaw's beach house, which resulted on the death of Shaw's lover, Lourdes Chantel.
The Inner CircleEdit
Shaw renamed the Council of the Chosen as The Lords Cardinal following his takeover of the NY Branch.
- Sebastian Shaw: Black King.
- ??: White Queen.
- Selene Gallio: Black Queen.
- Donald Pierce: White Bishop.
- Harry Leland: Black Bishop.
- Jason Wyngarde: Probational member - presumably intended for one of the two Rooks.
- Tessa: Shaw's personal aide.
- Warhawk: Associate.
- Emmanuel da Costa: White Rook.
- Friedrich von Roehm: Black Rook.
With Pierce expelled, Madelyne gone and both Shaw and Fitzroy retired, Selene reformed the Inner Circle into a reflection of her own dark nature, thus consorting with demons and vampires, though her reign was short-lived:
Following Selene's defeat, Sebastian Shaw came back into power, though the NY Branch had apparently been turned into a strip club. The strip club was part of the Hellfire Club's properties at least since the days of Emma Frost's youth.
Shinobi Shaw's Inner CircleEdit
Originally, Selene planned on creating a new Inner Circle from amongst the Upstarts, yet they turn on her. Believing his father to be dead, Shinobi Shaw briefly took over the NY Branch of the Club, seemingly with support from the External Candra. He offered membership in his Inner Circle to Archangel and later Storm but both declined.
- Shinobi Shaw: Black King.
- Benedict Kine: White King.
- Benazir Kaur: possible Black Queen.
- Reeva Payge: possible White Queen.
- Cordelia Frost: Probational member.
- Mindmeld: Shinobi’s bodyguard.
- Clearcut: Shinobi’s bodyguard.
- Candra: Associate.
- Vance Astrovik: Associate
- Benedict Kine's Ivory Knights
- Shinobi Shaw's Ebony Knights
The titles of Payge and Kaur were not established. When Cordelia Frost applied for membership to the Inner Circle, Shinobi stated that the title of White Queen is already taken.
This Inner Circle quickly faded into oblivion and was replaced by Shaw's second Inner Circle.
Shaw's Second StintEdit
Sebastian Shaw retook control of the Hellfire Club and tried to rebuild the Inner Circle to its former power and glory.
- Sebastian Shaw: Black King.
- Selene: Black Queen.
- Madelyne Pryor/Queen Jean: Black Rook.
- Trevor Fitzroy: White Rook.
- Donald Pierce: Applicant for White Bishop.
- Tessa: Shaw's personal aide.
- Holocaust: Associate.
- Ms. Hoo: Associate.
- Ella: Selene's personal servant.
Current Inner CircleEdit
London, 1760’s: Edit
- Sir Francis Dashwood
- John Stuart
- Duncan Munro
- Sir Patrick Clemens
- Lady Diana Knight
- Charles Grey
- John Wilkes
Current Inner Circle:Edit
The London Branch of the Hellfire Club was first seen in . The Inner Circle of the London branch briefly operated in parallel to Shinobi's Inner Circle. Instead of Black and White, the titles of the London Branch were Red and Black. They changed the oposing color to Red, from White, to distance themselves from the coarse American Branch.
- Emma Steed: Black Queen.
- Margali Szardos: Red Queen.
- Jane Hampshire (possessed by Mountjoy): Red Rook and Scribe.
- Quentin Templeton: Black King.
- Alan Wilson: Red King.
- Brian Braddock: Black Bishop.
- Conrad Strathdee: Red Bishop.
Brian Braddock's membership was hereditary. He joined the London Inner Circle at Shinobi Shaw's behest, as Shaw wanted information on the London branch's activities.
Members outside the Inner CircleEdit
The following were members of the Hellfire Club but not part of the any of the Inner Circle lineups mentioned above. Their membership was inherited from their ancestors or parents, or was obtained through from personal invitation from the Branch's King, such as the one Sebastian Shaw offered to Irene Merryweather, which she refused.
- Lourdes Chantel - affiliated thanks to Shaw's membership.
- Howard Stark - invited by Ned Buckman.
- Anthony Stark - inherited membership from his father.
- Norman Osborn
- Harry Osborn - inherited membership from his father.
- Robert Queen
- Laura Queen
- Oliver Queen - inherited membership.
- Lionel Luthor - invited by Ned Buckman.
- Lex Luthor - inherited membership from his father.
- Lutessa Mercer
- Sir James Braddock Sr. - former Black Bishop of the London Branch, left the Inner Circle when his inventions where used for anti-mutant purposes.
- James Braddock Jr. - inherited membership.
- John Braddock - inherited membership.
- Elizabeth Braddock - inherited membership.
- Charles Xavier - inherited membership.
- Victor Von Doom - inherited membership.
- Warren Worthington Jr. - invited by Ned Buckman.
- Warren Worthington III - inherited membership from his father.
- Winston Frost - invited by Ned Buckman.
- Hazel Frost
- Emma Frost - inherited membership from her father.
- Bianca LaNeige
- Dwayne Taylor
- Candace Southern
- Southern's (parents of Candace Southern)
- Ronald Parvenue
- Gerhard van Ostamgen
- Oliver Ryland, Elias Bogan's protégé.
- Lady Jacqueline Falsworth-Crichton - inherited membership.
- Senator Robert Kelly
- Thomas Wayne - invited by Ned Buckman.
- Martha Wayne
- Bruce Wayne - inherited membership.
- Regan Wyngarde
- Namor McKenzie
- Kathryn Worthington
- Roberto da Costa - inherited membership.
- Magneto: White King
- Voldemir Zhivago
- Angus Munro – allies.
Guards and MercenariesEdit
- Chet Andrews
- Randall Chase
- Wade Cole
- Denny the Bouncer
- Samuel Guthrie
- Angelo Macon
- Murray Reese
- Richard Salmons
- Bruno Stein
- Carmen (Rio de Janeiro)
- Sharon Kelly
- Rutledge (London)