Sebastian Hiram Shaw (Black King)

blackkingfilmOn with casualgamer‘s list, we find another Marvel villain: Sebastian Shaw, the Black King from the infamous Hellfire Club. Shaw first appeared in a very brief cameo in X2: X-Men United, portrayed by Charles Siegel: he’s see debating on television with Hank McCoy the “mutant problem”, with the audience unaware that both the speakers are, in fact, mutants. He then appeared as the big baddie in X-Men: First Class, portrayed by Kevin Bacon (and his fate in the movie makes his cameo in X2 quite a major continuity problem…). In here, he was introduced as a Nazi scientist named Klaus Schmidt, who finds out about young Erik Lensherr‘s mutant powers and experiments on him during his years in Auschwitz; thanks to his powers he can be eternally young, and he resurfaces in the 1960s as Sebastian Shaw, the head of the secret organization Hellfire Club, bent on causing a war between USA and USSR to make humans extinct and letting mutants inherit the planet…an ideal that will inspire Erik into becoming the terrorist Magneto, after settling his score with Shaw. Now, let’s see who this powerful villain is in the comics.

Sebastian Shaw was born in PittsburghPennsylvania, the son of Jacob Shaw. The Shaws were once a noble and wealthy family, but were now impoverished and socially excluded. Sebastian grew up determined to restore his family’s name and fortune, and dedicated all his life to study and to build himself. The same year his father died he was admitted to engineering school, and that was also the year he found out he was a mutant: after receiving a severe beating in a bar, he realised he could convert the energy his body received (in this case the kinetic one of the punches) into physical strength. Totally dedicated to his goal, he didn’t pay much attention to his true nature, and founded Shaw Industries immediately after finishing his studies; by the age of 30 he was a millionaire, and ten years later he was a billionaire: finally, he had accomplished his life mission. Now able to focus on himself, Shaw became engaged to a Spanish mutant, Lourdes Chantel, a teleporter; thanks to his fortune and his growing power, he also attracted the attention of Ned Buckman, the White King, who offered him to join the Hellfire Club, a secret and powerful blackkingcomics1organization aiming to world domination. Shaw was initiated along with Warren Worthington Jr., John Braddock and Howard Stark, but he was the only one to stay (much to Lourdes’ regret, since she didn’t trust Buckman, and feared that the nature of the Hellfire Club would have corrupted Sebastian). Shaw was undoubtedly an ecceptional individual, and he managed to enter the Council of the Chosen and to be appointed the Black Bishop of the Hellfire Club…but he was far too ambitious to be satisfied with that. He started gathering other mutants, such as the telepath Emma Frost, to create a personal inner circle, but the final push was given by Buckman himself: a racist and a human supremacist, the White King supported Stephen Lang and his Sentinels, and when Project: Armageddon, aimed to kill all mutants, started, Lourdes Chantel was among the victims. Enraged, Shaw used Emma’s telepathy to force Buckman to kill Paris Seville, the White Queen, and then himself. After that, he appointed himself as the Black King, and Emma Frost as the new White Queen: the Hellfire Club was now his to command.

In the following years, the new Black King expanded the Hellfire Club’s power and influence even more, and recruited as his Lords Cardinal other powerful superhumans, such as the immortal Selene as the Black Queen, the mass-manipulator Harry Leland as his Black Bishop and the cyborg Donald Pierce as the White Bishop. To the outside world, the Hellfire Club was still run by humans, and Shaw mantained this facade keeping financing the construction of Sentinels, with the double result of having anti-mutant bigots like Robert Kelly or Henry Gyrich trust him as one of them, and of constantly keeping in check and under his direct control the anti-mutant robots. Looking for an all-mutant army to recruit, Sebastian Shaw set sight on the X-Men: he ordered the assassin Warhawk to bug Cerebro, so that everytime Professor X used it to locate a new mutant Shaw knew it; this way, he believed he would have had the chance to recruit said mutant before the X-Men did. This attempt failed twice, since the X-Men were more powerful in battle than the Club’s operatives, and it even revealed to the heroes blackkingcomics2the Club’s existence. The X-Men managed to infiltrate the Hellfire Club and to attack the inner circle, but Shaw defeated them, and led some mind-controlling experiments on them that later brought Jean Grey to lose control and become the Dark Phoenix. The X-Men managed to escape, and the Hellfire Club lost much of his strength: Pearce turned out to be a traitor and an anti-mutant himself, and Selene began plotting against Shaw to take control (having murdered the previous inner circle to gain his position, Shaw was always ready for betrayal, and saw it coming with great advantage). If inner conflicts weren’t enough, a sentinel from the future, Nimrod, threatened to exterminate all mutants, and the Hellfire Club was forced to form an uneasy alliance with the X-Men to stop it: Shaw himself destroyed the Sentinel with Leland’s help, but at the end of the battle both Leland and Friedrich Von Roem, the White Rook. To replace the lost members and to solidify the new alliance, Shaw admitted Storm and Magneto in the Hellfire Club, knowing far too well that their presence would have mined even more his weakening authority over the group. Not that there was much to worry about: he had created himself from nothing, and he would have done it again, if necessity called for it.

Sebastian Shaw is a brilliant and ambitious man, a natural tactician who uses his great intellect and his vast resources to make reality match with his (high) idea of himself. Self-important, arrogant and far too aware of his own power and gifts, he’s a cunning megalomaniac who aims at world domination, no less. As the Black King, he’s a powerful mutant, able to absorb any kind of energy (even if kinetic one works best) and to convert it into physical strength, durability, speed and stamina, using it also to rejuvenate or heal himself: in a battle, the more Shaw is hit, the stronger he gets, thus being a formidable opponent for anybody, managing to easily overpower even a power-house like Colossus after receiving sufficient blows. A proficient combatant and a natural-born leader, Shaw has at his disposal the remarkable resources of both his personal fortune and the Hellfire Club, making him one of the most influent, and dangerous, people on the planet. He’ll never be powerful or rich enough to satisfy his ambitions, and new limits are just made to be exceeded…but taking over the world would be a good start nevertheless.

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10 Comments

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  7. […] changed in the Inner Circle, the commanding elite of the Hellfire Club: a powerful mutant named Sebastian Shaw had conquered the position of Black King by killing all the human members of the Club, and he […]

  8. […] the secret organization known as the Hellfire Club. The Club had just changed leadership, with Sebastian Shaw leading a mutant rebellion and eliminating all the human members of the group, but albeit he […]

  9. […] between humans and mutants. When a secret society, the Hellfire Club, found a new leader in Sebastian Shaw, Xavier perceived it as a threat to his peace building, so he sent Sage, under the alias of Tessa, […]

  10. […] the White Bishop from the Hellfire Club, who wanted to abduct her in his plans to overthrow the Black King. In the following struggle, Pierce killed Black Eagle, while Dani was surrounded by his men. She […]


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