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Hellfire Club

Hellfire Club in London

The Hellfire Club originated in England in the 1760s as a social organization for the elite of British society. The Club not only provided its members with pleasures, often of sorts that violated moral standards at the time, but also sewed as a means for the members to consolidate their Influence over British economic and political matters.

A number of the Club's most important members, led by the wealthy trading company owner and former Member of Parliament Sir Patrick Clemens, and his mistress, the renowned actress Diana Knight, emigrated to the colony of New York in the 17708, where they founded the new American Hellfire Club. Clemens and Knight served as its first leaders under their Club titles of Black King and Black Queen. The Club's headquarters was an abandoned church that stood on the site of the present day Hellfire Club mansion, located at what is now Fifth Avenue on Manhattan's East Side, only a few block8 away from the Avengers Mansion.

Today's Hellfire Club counts among its members the wealthy, the powerful, and the celebrated from virtually all over the world. Membership la by Invitation only, but such Invitations are rarely turned down, for membership in the Hellfire Club Is universally regarded as the ultimate status symbol.

As far as the general public and, indeed, moat or the Club's members are concerned, the Hellfire Club is a thoroughly respectable upper class social organization principally devoted to giving spectacular parties. It is also generally known that these parties serve as a means for members of the social, economic, and political elite to meet unofficially to discuss matters of mutual interest, and to strike political or business deals.

The Club's highest ranking members belong to its Inner Circle, who dress in late Eighteenth Century costumes for Circle meetings and other formal occasions Involving the Club. Inner Circle members hold positions named after chess places: the leaders are King end Queens, followed by Bishops, Knights, Rooks, and Pawns. It is possible for there to be two Kings (a Black King and a White King) or two Queens (Black and White) in office simultaneously. However, such situations almost Invariably lead to power struggles, and so there Is usually only one King and one Queen at a time, If a member of one faction of the Inner Circle displaces a member of another faction as King or Queen, he or she usually names his rank after the opposite color to his predecessor's; Hence, when Sebastian Shaw deposed the most recent former leader, a White King, he became a Black King.

Unknown to most of the Club members, the Inner Circle members are engaged in a conspiracy to dominate the world through the accumulation of economic power and political influence. The Inner Circle commands great financial resources, highly advanced technology, and a large body or mercenaries (many of whom wear red and blue uniforms with masks), all of which they use in their subversive activities.

The previous leader of the Inner Circle, then known as the Council of the Chosen, was a White King who threw the Council's financial and technological support behind Dr. Stephen Lang's attempts to capture superhuman mutants with Sentinel robots. Lang's endeavor ended in disaster, and Black Bishop Sebastian Shaw and White Queen Emma Frost seized the opportunity to turn the White King out of office. Shaw became the new Black King, leader of the Council, which he renamed the Inner Circle, and master of the entire Hellfire Club. A leader Shaw works closely with his ally Frost, the White Queen.

Shaw and Frost are both not only heads of major corporations but are also superhuman mutants. They have given other superhuman mutants positions of power within the Inner Circle. Moreover, Frost was also headmistress of the Massachusetts Academy, a private school in New England for which she recruits adolescent superhuman mutants as well as the sons and daughters of the elite so that she might bring them under the Inner Circle's Influence. It is at the Academy that Frost trained a team of adolescent superhuman mutants known as the Hellions.

Shaw's corporation, Shaw Industries, has a secret contact to build Sentinels for the United States government's covert Project Wideawake, whose goal was to hunt down, capture, and study superhuman mutants. Shaw hoped to use his position with the project for the Inner Circle's own end. (None of the Inner Circle members are known to be mutants either by the United States government or by the general public.)

Some yearn ego, the mutant Jason Wyngarde, otherwise known as Mastermind, sought admission into the Inner Circle. To prove his value, Wyngarde mesmerized the first member of the X-Man to be known as Phoenix into willingly becoming the Clubs Black Queen. Although Wyngarde believed that Phoenix was Jean Grey, also known as Marvel Girl, it now appears that Phoenix was actually an immensely powerful energy being who had taken on a human guise and persona patterned after Grey's. Wyngarde's tampering with Phoenix's mind backfired by triggering her transformation into the satanic Dark Phoenix, who temporarily rendered him catatonic. The Inner Circle therefore withdrew its Invitation to him to become a member.

Still more recently Friedrich von Roehm, a member of the Inner Circle, sponsored the superhuman mutant and sorceress known as Selene for membership in the Circle. Selene has since become the Circle's Black Queen. Hence there are now two women holding the rank of Queen within the Inner Circle.

In recent years the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle has dashed several times with the mutant X-Men, and the enmity between the two groups persists to this day.

The identities of most of the members of the Infer Circle have yet to be revealed. A number of the individuals who have been associated with the Inner Circle are described and depicted here.

First Appearance: (as Council of the Chosen) X-MEN #100, (first mentioned under the name Hellfire Club) X-MEN #122, (first seen as the Hellfire Club) X-MEN #129.

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