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Archrivals: the X-Men vs the Hellfire Club

Before Professor X faces a rejuvenated Inner Circle, catch up on the Children of the Atom's past campaigns against their foes

By Jim Beard Some people just can't be content with money or fame-some need to dominate the world, too. That's the kind of person who joins the Hellfire Club. A haven for the rich, the powerful, and the influential over several centuries, the Hellfire Club stands today as a bastion of hedonism and dark desires. With worldwide branches, this exclusive organization exists to collect power by manipulating economics and politics, crushing all those who stand in its way. The Club will wield its awesome force once more over the next several months in the pages of X-MEN: LEGACY, beginning this week with issue #211. We've managed to peel back the obscuring layers of secrecy and present you with a few of the most exciting past duels between the X-Men and the Hellfire Club's Inner Circle. Read on - if you dare!

X-MEN v1 #134 (1980) Captured and humiliated, the X-Men endured Hellfire Club leader Sebastian Shaw's gloating for but a moment, as the villains' plans soon crumbled under the berserker rage of Wolverine. After freeing his fellows, the Canadian mutant tore into his opponents, specifically targeting his earlier assailant, mutant mass-manipulator Harry Leland. In the chaos and confusion, Jean Grey turned on Mastermind, the man who had exerted obscene mental manipulation over her and turned her into the Black Queen. In the end, the Inner Circle suffered their first major defeat at the hands of the X-Men and the world trembled at the first appearance of...Dark Phoenix.

UNCANNY X-MEN #152 (1981) Her mind swapped into the body of the Hellfire Club's White Queen, Emma Frost, Storm managed to convince Kitty Pride of her true identity and together they invaded the X-Mansion only to find themselves in the middle of a pitched battle between their X-Men compatriots and the Inner Circle. Storm cleverly managed to regain her own body from Frost and stopped short of killing Emma thanks to the intervention of Wolverine. Both groups fearful of exposing their secretive situations ended the battle prematurely and went their own ways, an uneasy truce hanging between them.

EXCALIBUR v1 #99 (1996) The 8th century origins of the Hellfire Club came to light as the members of Excalibur discovered the insidious organization's London Branch planned to harness magic and technology to wield as a weapon against the city. While Brian Braddock-the Black Bishop of the London branch-struggled with his future as Captain Britain, the Red King and Queen made their bid for power and a dark, demonic day dawned for London.

ASTONISHING X-MEN #18 (2006) In perhaps the strangest Hellfire Club story to date, the X-Men faced bitter defeat at the hands of their evil counterparts, whose roster now included old enemies Sebastian Shaw and Cassandra Nova, as well as new foes Negasonic Teenage Warhead and the mysterious Perfection. While Nova sought out a heavily-guarded box in the bowels of the Mansion, Kitty wracked up a win against her former tormentor Emma Frost, seemingly in cahoots with the Club. The X-Men, brought to the brink of madness, faced one of their greatest mysteries: what if anything of the assault registered as reality? The Hellfire Club returns to bedevil Professor X in X-MEN: LEGACY #211, on sale this week. To whittle away the time, check out past stories featuring Emma Frost on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.

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