The Hellfire Club began in England as a social club for the British social elite and wealthy in the 1760s as a way to provide its members with pleasures that often defied the moral standards of the time and to allow members to consolidate their influence over British economic and political matters. At some point, a handful of the most powerful members emigrated to the American colonies and began a branch in New York City and other major cities around the world.
The club had branches in Boston, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. The various branches were overseen by the Lord Imperial. 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, operating above all of them.
The purpose of the Hellfire Club is 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.
Hellfire Club membership is hereditary, but can also be earned through wealth or influence. Among the Club members there are many famous and influential members of society, the wealthiest and most powerful businessmen of the world, including Tony Stark and Norman Osborn. While many accept the invitation to join a Сlub just for the pleasures that it offers, many others see it as a way to obtain more wealth and influence.
The constant intrigue, backstabbing, blackmailing, and politicking that plagued the Hellfire Club resulted in many changes of the Inner Circle, as new players sought out membership in order to obtain influence, power and wealth. Although the hierarchy of the Inner Circle would go through constant upheaval due to the competing egos and political motives of its members, it continues to exist in the same basic structure today.
New York Branch
Unbeknownst to most members of the Club, the organization was ruled by a Council of the Chosen or Inner Circle. This secret group assumed the titles of chess pieces, with the leaders being the two respective Kings and Queens, followed by Bishops and Knights. Originally the Council of the Chosen was composed of normal humans, but was slowly infiltrated and dominated by super-powered mutants of various abilities.
White King Ned Buckman gave the support of the Council of the Chosen to Stephen Lang and his mutant hunting Sentinels. Backing Lang turned into a disaster when a Sentinel attack on Sebastian Shaw's home led to the death of his fiancee Lourdes Chantel. Out for revenge, Shaw and Emma Frost slaughtered the Council of the Chosen. Renaming the ruling body the Inner Circle, Shaw and Frost begin to surround themselves with other mutants. Though not always the most powerful of mutantkind, the Inner Circle allowed within its ranks 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.
The Hellfire Club first came to the attention of the X-Men when agents of the Hellfire Club kidnapped several X-Men and took over the mind of Phoenix, believing itself to be Jean Grey. 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 nearly 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.
Council of the Chosen
The original Inner Circle prior to Shaw and Frost's takeover of the New York Branch Hellfire Club.
- Edward "Ned" Buckman: White King.
- Paris Seville: White Queen.
- Sebastian Shaw: Black Bishop.
The rest of the membership was never named. Like Paris Seville, they were gunned down by Buckman under Emma Frost's mind control.
The Lords Cardinal
Shaw renamed the "Council of the Chosen" to "The Lords Cardinal" following his takeover of the NY Branch.
- Sebastian Shaw: Black King.
- Emma Frost: White Queen.
- Donald Pierce: White Bishop.
- "Jean Grey" (Dark Phoenix): Black Queen.
- Harry Leland: Black Bishop.
- Jason Wyngarde: Probational member - presumably intended for one of the two Rooks.
- Tessa/Sage: Shaw's personal aide.
- Mitchell Tanner: Associate.
After the Phoenix became Dark Phoenix and left the group, the title of Black Queen was empty once again. Donald Pierce reached the rank of White King and was expelled.
New members were:
- Selene: Black Queen.
- Emmanuel da Costa: White Rook.
- Friedrich von Roehm: Black Rook.
- Erik Lehnsherr: White King, alongside Ororo Munroe. Later Grey King.
- Ororo Munroe: White King, alongside Erik Lehnsherr.
Shinobi Shaw's Inner Circle
Originally, Selene planned on creating a new Inner Circle from amongst the Upstarts, yet they turned 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: White Queen.
- Reeva Payge: Black Queen.
- Cordelia Frost: Probationary member.
- Mindmeld: Shinobi's bodyguard.
- Clearcut: Shinobi's bodyguard.
- Benedict Kine's Ivory Knights.
- Shinobi Shaw's Ebony Knights.
- Candra: Associate.
- Vance Astrovik: Associate.
This Inner Circle quickly faded into oblivion and was replaced by Shaw's second Inner Circle.
Shaw's Second Stint
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/Sage: Shaw's personal aide.
- Holocaust: Associate.
- Ms. Hoo: Associate.
- Ella: Selene's personal servant.
With Pierce expelled, Madelyne gone, and both Shaw and Fitzroy retired, Selene reformed the Inner Circle into a reflection of her own evil nature, thus consorting with demons, though her reign was short-lived:
- Selene: Black Queen.
- Blackheart: Black King.
- Daimon Hellstrom: White King.
- Roberto da Costa: Black Rook.
At the time, Adrienne Frost had become headmistress of Generation X, claiming the White Queen title for herself. However, she was merely using the White Queen moniker. Besides, the nature of her powers did not fit with Selene's new demons, fire, and brimstone theme.
Following Selene's defeat, Hellstrom remained as White King. Though he hasn't appeared again as a member, it would be years before there was another White King.
Roberto da Costa joined the Inner Circle after Selene and Blackheart's defeat. She had always shown an interest in the young da Costa and blackmailed him into taking up his hereditary membership.
Later, 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.
The Fifth Inner Circle
With Sir Gordon Phillips dead thanks to the Legacy Virus, Shaw positioned himself as the new Lord Imperial and, as such, he oversaw the entire Hellfire Club. While he claimed that he was trying to reform the Club, his motive, as always, was not what it seemed.
- Sebastian Shaw: Lord Imperial.
- Roberto da Costa/Sunspot: Black King, later Lord Imperial.
- Selene: Black Queen.
- "Courtney Ross"/Sat-Yr-Nin: White Queen.
- Viper: Warrior White Princess.
- Emma Frost: another White Queen.
- Rachel Grey: another Warrior White Princess.
- Tessa/Sage: Shaw's personal aide and Sunspot's personal adviser.
- Red Lotus: Associate.
During a confrontation between "Courtney Ross" and Emma Frost, it was revealed that the latter maintained her membership all the time, as well as the White Queen title, though she lost the second.
Selene remained trapped beneath the Hellfire Club's HQ and was not actually part of the New Inner Circle, though her title of Black Queen remained unclaimed.
A confrontation with Donald Pierce left Shaw gravely injured. Sunspot took over as Lord Imperial, which was Sage's plan all along. Despite their good intentions, Sat-Yr-Nin and Viper had their own less than noble agenda.
"The Sixth Inner Circle"
Shaw became healthy once again joined forces with new allies at the behest of the mysterious Perfection. The titles of the new members were never revealed.
It was later discovered that this Inner Circle never existed, and was only a mental projection created by Cassandra Nova.
The Seventh Inner Circle
- Roberto da Costa: Lord Imperial.
- Sebastian Shaw: Black King.
- Mercedes: possibly Black Queen.
- Castlemere: Associate.
- Turner: Associate.
- Claudine Renko Associate.
- Mister Sholl
- Ms. Cabot
The Eighth Inner Circle
After the destruction of the Purifiers, Kade Kilgore, the genius 12-year-old son of the owner of Kilgore Arms (the company holding the contract to manufacture Sentinels at the time), killed his father, took control of the company, and then talked his way into control of the Hellfire Club. Using the resources of the Hellfire Club, he assembled a group of similarly privileged young sociopaths.
- Kade Kilgore: Black King.
- Wilhelmina Kensington: White Queen.
- Manuel Enduque: White King.
- Baron Maximilian von Katzenelnbogen: Black Bishop.
Kilgore's Inner Circle sowed chaos among the mutants, all with the goal of creating a new generation of super-villain mutants who would inspire fear and let him sell more Sentinels. When this plan reached its most naked stage with the formation of the Hellfire Academy, Kilgore was lost, Enduque and Katzenelnbogen were forcibly enrolled in the Jean Grey School, and Kensington was left in control of everything.
The Ninth Inner Circle
Eight months after Secret Wars, Magneto had formed a strikeforce to fight the enemies of mutantkind. Part of this effort involved using the good will of the Hellfire Club.
The Tenth Inner Circle
- Emma Frost: Black King
- Raven Darkholme: White King
- Joshua Foley: Black Bishop
- Marrow: Black Rook
- Vanisher: Associate
- Sir Francis Dashwood
- John Stuart
- Duncan Munro
- Sir Patrick Clemens
- Lady Diana Knight
- Charles Grey
- John Wilkes
- Cornelius Shaw
- Harry Manners
- Waltham Pierce
- Esau Shaw
- Jacob Shaw
- Montgomery Falsworth
Modern Inner Circle
The London Branch of the Hellfire Club was first seen in Excalibur #9. The Inner Circle of the London branch briefly operated in parallel to Shinobi's Inner Circle in Excalibur #96. Instead of Black and White, the titles of the London Branch were Red and Black. They changed the opposing color to Red, from White, to distance themselves from the coarse NY 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. Brian'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.
- Conrad Strathdee: Red Bishop.
Hong Kong Branch
Los Angeles Branch
The previous Inner Circle of the Los Angeles Branch of the Hellfire Club was seen in X-Treme X-Men #43. The current Inner Circle was seen in X-Man #22. Elias Bogan apparently was a member of the previous Inner Circle.
Philadelphia Branch (1780-81)
- Sir Patrick Clemens: Black King, founder.
- Lady Diana Knight: Black Queen, founder.
- Lady Grey: White Queen.
- Elizabeth Shaw-Worthington
- Major General Wallace Worthington
- Commander Clinton
Boston Branch (1872-74)
San Francisco Branch (1906)
Hellfire Trading Company
- Lord Imperial: title vacant
- Emma Frost: White Queen
- Sebastian Shaw: Black King
- Kate Pryde: Red Queen
- Christian Frost: White Bishop
- Shinobi Shaw: Black Bishop
Members outside the Inner Circles
The following characters were members of the Hellfire Club but were 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.
- Warren Worthington III - inherited membership from his father.
- Warren Worthington Jr. - invited by Ned Buckman.
- Howard Stark - invited by Ned Buckman.
- Tony Stark - inherited membership from his father.
- Norman Osborn
- Sir James Braddock Sr. - former Black Bishop of the London Branch, left the Inner Circle when his inventions were used for anti-mutant purposes.
- James Braddock Jr. - inherited membership.
- John Braddock - invited by Ned Buckman.
- Elizabeth Braddock - inherited membership.
- Bianca LaNeige
- Dwayne Taylor
- Candace Southern
- Forsythe and Veronica Southern (parents of Candace Southern)
- Ronald Parvenue
- Gerhard van Ostamgen
- Oliver Ryland, Elias Bogan's protégé.
- Lady Jacqueline Falsworth-Crichton - inherited membership.
- Senator Robert Kelly
- Regan Wyngarde
- Namor McKenzie
- Kathryn Worthington
- Voldemir Zhivago
- Angus Munro - allies.
Guards and Mercenaries
- Chet Andrews
- Randall Chase
- Wade Cole
- Denny the Bouncer
- Samuel Guthrie
- Angelo Macon
- Murray Reese
- Rosen 
- Richard Salmons
- Bruno Stein
- Carmen (Rio de Janeiro)
- Sharon Kelly
- Nicholas Rutledge (London)
- The Hellfire Club, including their attire and the name and appearance of the original members of the Inner Circle, was based on the organization of the same name that appeared in the episode A Touch of Brimstone from the British TV series The Avengers. The Hellfire Club in said series is in turn based on the real-life Hellfire Club.
- The club motto is Fais ce que tu voudras ("Do what thou wilt"), the same as the real life Hellfire Club.
- 146 Hellfire Club (Earth-616) Members
- 198 Appearances of Hellfire Club (Earth-616)
- 12 Minor Appearances of Hellfire Club (Earth-616)
- 58 Media Hellfire Club (Earth-616) was Mentioned in
- 31 Images that include Hellfire Club (Earth-616)
- Team Gallery: Hellfire Club (Earth-616)
Links and References
- ↑ X-Man #25
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Excalibur #9
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 X-Man #22
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 X-Men #132
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Uncanny X-Men #453
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 X-Men: Hellfire Club #2
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Uncanny X-Men #512
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 X-Men Vol 2 #73
- ↑ Runaways Vol 3 #10
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Iron Man: Kiss & Kill #1
- ↑ Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #5
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 Cable #49
- ↑ X-Men Vol 2 #104
- ↑ X-Men #100
- ↑ X-Treme X-Men #3
- ↑ Uncanny X-Men #388
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 Classic X-Men #7
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 X-Men #130
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 19.2 X-Men #129
- ↑ X-Men #122
- ↑ 21.0 21.1 New Mutants #22
- ↑ New Mutants #7
- ↑ 23.0 23.1 Uncanny X-Men #210
- ↑ 24.0 24.1 New Mutants #51
- ↑ New Mutants #75
- ↑ 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 26.4 26.5 X-Men Vol 2 #29
- ↑ 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 X-Men Annual Vol 2 #3
- ↑ 28.0 28.1 Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z #5
- ↑ Generation X Annual #1
- ↑ X-Force #67
- ↑ X-Force #62
- ↑ 32.0 32.1 Spider-Man Team-Up #1
- ↑ New Warriors #43
- ↑ 34.0 34.1 X-Force #48
- ↑ X-Man #17
- ↑ Cable #47
- ↑ 37.0 37.1 X-Force #49
- ↑ X-Men Unlimited #17
- ↑ 39.0 39.1 39.2 Fantastic Four Annual #1999
- ↑ X-Force #94
- ↑ Generation X #56
- ↑ Uncanny X-Men #454
- ↑ 43.0 43.1 43.2 Uncanny X-Men #452
- ↑ 44.0 44.1 Uncanny X-Men #449
- ↑ How she managed to present herself before Sunspot remains unexplained and its possibly an error by the writers.
- ↑ 46.0 46.1 46.2 46.3 46.4 X-Men: Legacy #215
- ↑ X-Men: Legacy #214
- ↑ 48.0 48.1 48.2 X-Men: Legacy #217
- ↑ 49.0 49.1 X-Men: Legacy #210
- ↑ X-Men: Schism #1
- ↑ Wolverine #304
- ↑ Wolverine and the X-Men #22
- ↑ 53.0 53.1 53.2 53.3 Marvel Frontier Comics Unlimited #1
- ↑ 54.0 54.1 Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix #2
- ↑ Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix #3
- ↑ 56.0 56.1 56.2 56.3 56.4 56.5 56.6 X-Men: Hellfire Club #3
- ↑ 57.0 57.1 57.2 57.3 Excalibur #97
- ↑ 58.0 58.1 58.2 58.3 58.4 58.5 58.6 Excalibur #96
- ↑ 59.0 59.1 Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol 2 #5
- ↑ 60.0 60.1 60.2 Marauders #2
- ↑ Marauders #3
- ↑ 62.0 62.1 Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Master Edition #28
- ↑ 63.0 63.1 63.2 X-Men: Hellfire Club #4
- ↑ New Mutants #53
- ↑ X-Treme X-Men #41
- ↑ New X-Men: Hellions #4
- ↑ 67.0 67.1 67.2 67.3 Uncanny X-Men #246
- ↑ X-Treme X-Men #6
- ↑ Uncanny X-Men Annual Vol 2 #2
- ↑ X-Men Unlimited Vol 2 #1
- ↑ Marvel Graphic Novel #63
- ↑ X-Men Unlimited #33
- ↑ 73.0 73.1 New Mutants #16
- ↑ New Mutants #8
- ↑ Firestar #1
- ↑ 76.0 76.1 76.2 76.3 76.4 76.5 X-Men #131
- ↑ 77.0 77.1 77.2 77.3 77.4 77.5 X-Men #133
- ↑ X-Men: Deadly Genesis #5
- ↑ 79.0 79.1 79.2 79.3 X-51 #0
- ↑ Marvel Graphic Novel #4
- ↑ 81.0 81.1 Uncanny X-Men #151
- ↑ 82.0 82.1 X-Men: Legacy #218
- ↑ Firestar #3
- ↑ Marvel Comics Presents #89
- ↑ Cronin, Brian (29 October 2015). Foggy Ruins of Time - The Real Origins of the Hellfire Club - Comics Should be Good!. Comic Book Resources. Retrieved on 30 October 2015.
- ↑ Heroic Age: X-Men #1