The Hellfire Club (formerly Order of the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe) began in 18th century England as a social club for the British social elite and wealthy, 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 economic and political matters. The club’s purpose is to obtain and exert power through politics and economic influence instead of outward conquest and domination. Since its foundation, they have been involved in wars and assassinations. The organization is ran by the Inner Circle, this secret group assumed the titles of chess pieces, with the leaders being the respective Black King/White King and Black Queen/White Queen, followed by Black Bishop/White Bishop and Black Knight/White Knight. Membership is hereditary, meaning many of the world's elite are members by birth but many do not accept the formal membership or just attend their lavish parties.
The group was originally founded in England as the Order of the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe. In the 1770s, the Hellfire Club operated in the Thirteen Colonies. A handful of the most powerful members — led by Sir Patrick Clemens and his mistress Diana Knight — emigrated to the American colonies and began a branch in New York City.
They were headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During the American Revolutionary War they recruited Lady Grey. They hoped to recruit Major General Wallace Worthington who had managed to replace the defector Benedict Arnold. They planned to use Elizabeth Shaw to seduce him a bring him into the club. They hoped to end the "pitiful" American Revolution and assure the victory of the Kingdom of Great Britain. However Worthington continued to establish a reputation for loyalty to the cause. However Elizabeth fell in love with him and decided he was a lost cause. Worthington was murdered and his house burned, leaving behind only his widow.
The club was operating in San Francisco at the beginning of the 20th century. They used psychics to learn more about the birth of "Over-Men", the next stage in human development. They designed a weapon they dubbed the Sentinel to help track them down and destroy them if they get out of hand. The X-Club travelled back in time to collect DNA samples from Doctor Nemesis' parents. When they arrived they learned Dr. Nicola Bradley and his wife Catherine Price had been working on a new energy source. The Hellfire Club kidnapped them to use their energy source to power their proto-Sentinel. The X-Club came to their rescue but the battle between the Hellfire Club's Sentinel and the X-Club caused the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.
In 1915, after the death of their father, Esau Shaw joined the club alongside Sir Waltham Pierce and Sir Harry Manners, however his brother Jacob Shaw coveted his position. Mister Sinister met with Jacob and gave him the power to shape-shift. He used it to kill his brother to take his place. Union Jack arrested Waltham on the grounds of treason and murder. Eventually, Jacob fled to the US, where his son Sebastian was born.
Throughout the 20th century the recruited the world's leading businessmen such as Howard Stark, Warren Worthington II, John Braddock, and Sebastian Shaw. Many were only interested in the the lavish parties the club threw.
Formation of the Inner Circle
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 fiancée 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 began to surround themselves with other mutants.
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.
Kade Kilgore, the genius 12-year-old son of Carlton Kilgore, talked his way into control of the club. Using the resources of the club, he assembled a group of similarly privileged young sociopaths: Wilhelmina Kensington, Manuel Enduque, and Baron Maximilian von Katzenelnbogen. They planned for chaos by creating a new generation of villainous mutants who would inspire fear and let him sell more Sentinels. However when the Hellfire Academy fell apart, Kilgore was lost, Enduque and Katzenelnbogen were forcibly enrolled in the Jean Grey School, and Kensington was left in control of everything.
The Tenth Inner Circle
While investigating the actions of Miss Sinister surrounding the Mothervine virus, Magneto encountered Sebastian Shaw at the Hellfire Club in London. Having become enhanced by the Mothervine virus, Shaw overpowered Magneto, but a side-effect of the drug caused his body to absorb the energy stored within his own cells, weakening him. Magneto spared Shaw's life in exchange for a meeting with the masterminds behind Mothervine. Sometime later, Emma Frost decided to rid of Shaw. She spiked Shaw's wine with a paralytic agent. With no way to release his body's absorbed energies, they overloaded his Mothervine-induced secondary mutation, resulting in his death.
Hellfire Trading Company
When Professor X and Magneto were beginning preparations to create a new mutant-only nation in the island of Krakoan, Emma Frost to oversee the international trade relations. As both the White Queen of the newly rebranded Hellfire Trading Company and a chief ambassador of Krakoa, Emma was given a seat on the Quiet Council, Krakoa's first governing body, in return for exporting its miracle drugs to the rest of the world. The Hellfire Corporation was also awarded a second seat on the Council for the Black King, Sebastian Shaw, in order to ensure he'd handle the black market trade with countries that rejected their sovereignty. As her final demand, Emma asked for a third seat for a person of her choosing.
Shaw wanted to eventually gain control of the entire Hellfire Trading Company and, when his son Shinobi Shaw was resurrected, he hoped to assert his power by making him the Red King, but when Emma Frost appointed Kate Pryde as the Red Queen of the company, this became an obstacle for Shaw's plans, and he was forced to turn his son into the Black Bishop instead.
In the meantime, Emma made her brother Christian the White Bishop and convinced Callisto to accept the role of the White Knight, while Kate struggled to get Lucas Bishop to accept the position of the Red Bishop.
While the two queens were worried about filling their ranks, Shaw was scheming how to gain control of the Hellfire Company to himself. Confident that Kate's inability to pass through the Krakoan Gateways also meant that the Five would be unable to resurrect her if she died, he hired the anti-mutant organization Homines Verendi to attack his own son Shinobi and lure Kate out to ambush her while she was alone. After immobilizing Lockheed and dropping him into the water, Shaw wrapped Kate with Krakoan plants that nullified her powers and sank her. Lockheed was able to survive, but Kate drowned. Her body was later found by Bishop.
Initially, the Five were indeed unable to create a clone body for Kate, despite multiple attempts at the behest of Xavier. Without giving hope, Hellfire Trading kept adding people to their ranks, with the Fenris twins joining as the Black Knights and Bishop finally accepting to become the Red Bishop.
After Kate's long-postponed funeral, Lockheed made its way to Emma, who was grieving in pain. When she read the dragon's mind and realized Shaw was responsible, she decided to ask for another revival attempt. At the eighteenth attempt, Kate was finally brought back as Emma had realized that, unlike other mutants, Kate had to phase through her cocoon rather than break out of it. Before getting to her welcoming party, Emma shared with Kate what Lockheed had witnessed, and she immediately came up with a plan to act her revenge, which Emma loved.
They let the contest with Arakko pass and then decided to execute the plan. After invading Shaw's house and severly hurting him, they served him a poisoned drink that left him crippled and unable to walk, but still capable of listening to them as they revealed that Black would no longer be the one handling the black market trades.
On a different front, the Verendi were trying to raze the Lowtown, in Madripoor, to build more towers and get even richer, so Hellfire Trading outbid them in buying multiple properties to ensure the safety of the people, including the creation of a free hospital for everyone. Revolted with this affront, the Verendi then unleashed the new Reavers, composed of people recently maimed by mutants, against the Marauders, successfully causing an international incident that resulted in the Marauders being banned from Madripoor.
With their protectors gone, the people of Lowtown were pillaged and had their houses destroyed by the Reavers, so Kate swam through the sewers to plant a secret Krakoan Gateway and allow a small team of Morlocks to sneak into the city and fight the Reavers.
Following the Hellfire Gala, Emma revealed to Shaw that his former love Lourdes Chantel had never died and that she had helped Lourdes fake her death to get away from her abusive relationship with Shaw.
- On its first mention in X-Men #129 (October 1979) the Hellfire Club is described as having been founded 150 years ago, and in X-Men #131 the date of 1729 is given.
- Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #5 stated that the English branch had been founded in the 1760s and the New York branch in the 1770s.
- Hellfire Hostages, a role-playing game adventure published in Dungeon magazine #25, says that the New York City seat of the Hellfire Club was established in 1763.
- 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.
- 214 appearance(s) of Hellfire Club (Earth-616)
- 24 minor appearance(s) of Hellfire Club (Earth-616)
- 106 mention(s) of Hellfire Club (Earth-616)
- 45 image(s) of Hellfire Club (Earth-616)
- 123 member(s) of Hellfire Club (Earth-616)
- 5 item(s) used/owned by Hellfire Club (Earth-616)