The Hellfire Club’s Secret History in the Marvel Universe

With their big screen debut in X-Men: First Class just a few weeks ago and their return to comics set up in the upcoming X-Men: Schism series, the secretive cabal known as the Hellfire Club has been on the minds of a lot of people — comics fans or not. On the surface they may just seem like a collection of high-society superhumans out to take what they think is their’s, they in fact have ties going back centuries in the Marvel U and have members from prominent Marvel characters’ families from not only X-Men like Cyclops and Psylocke but also Mephisto and Iron Man.

They were fiirst introduced in the dawning days of the 80's in Uncanny X-Men #129 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. As time went on, their history spread both forward in time and back into lore. The little known 2000 era miniseries X-Men: The Hellfire Club showed just how far back the criminal organization stretched with branches of the organization working in the aftermath of the American Revolution with members including ancestors to Jean Grey and Warren Worthington (aka Angel/Archangel), as well as Captain Britain’s grandfather, Lord Braddock in a 1850's era London Branch.

Over the course of their history they’ve seen many heroes try to engage and subvert the organization from within by the likes of Storm and Captain Britain, to New Mutants’ Sunspot. Membership into the secluded organization is passed down through bloodlines, with current heroes such as Angel, Psylocke, Captain Britain and even Iron Man enrolled as members due to their family’s past with the organization. Even the rebellious son of Mephisto, Blackheart, has been a member of the Inner Circle for a time, proving that the Hellfire Club has been inclusive of everyone from normal humans like you and I to supernatural beings such as the son of a demon.

As for who or what the make-up of the Hellfire Club and its Inner Circle will be coming up in X-Men: Schism remains to be seen, but be forewarned: there’s more than a few former Hellfire alums living on Utopia, and I’m not just talking about Emma Frost.


  1. So the Alaska Summers were a prominent family in the Marvel U?

    When was Cyclops ever a member?

  2. We’ve never been made 100% clear as to what Sir James Braddock’s dealings with Hellfire Club actually consisted of. Were they in any way related to his work on Genosha? Or was this just a membership based on wealth and priveledge? Both Psylocke and Captain Britain have used their family connection to covertly attend Hellfire Club bashes in the past. Brian was also briefly the Red Bishop of the original London Club during Excalibur. I have often hoped they’d reactivate the LOndon Club. It was the first, after all. There was plans to bring it back as the main adversary of Chris Claremont’s New Excalibur. But as I understabd it that got vetoed once the story had begun, as it was thought it would be confusing once Joss Whedon’s faux Hellfire Club was introduced in Astonishing X-men.

  3. It would be cool to have Sunspot’s departure from the Hellfire club fleshed out a little more in the x-books. Also, where’s Sage?

  4. @ericmci

    The Summers family has a much longer history due to the involvement of Mr Sinister.  Same with Jean Grey.  This goes back to the Victorian Age.

  5. @ErronSF Originally Chris Claremont had intended to continue his Raising Hellfire set-up into his run on New Excalibur. Elias Bogan was to appear, continuing that plot, and he added Sage to Excalibur purely to be part of that (Let’s face it she had no other purpose there). It had been hinted that Bogan was many hundreds of years old, and given that the London branch of the hEllfire Club was the original branch, I believe the intention was to reveal Bogan was actually a founding member.

    A few issues into New Excalibur though Chris Claremont posted over on Comixfan’s forum (As offten he did in those days) that he had been told all Hellfire properties, characters and concepts were now off the table for him. No direct reason was given, but it was assumed by many that it had something today with Joss Whedon’s fiorever delayed ‘faux Hellfire Club’ appearing in Astonishing X-Men, at the time.

    This is a great shame. The London Hellfire Club had been pencilled in as the Big Bad of New Excalibur, and Claremont had been building up his storyline for a long time.

    Despite that being nixed, you can still see the hallmarks of Bogan in those early issues. The team of ‘Dark X-Men’ as they were solicited (And later renamed ‘Shadow X’ to tie them into The Shadow King) all wore masks with markings under the eyepieces which look identical to the tattoos which Bogan branded onto Sage’s face. When that groups Charles Xavier attacked people he placed a psychic mask on them, which also bore those tattoo like marks.

    A great sshame that never came off, as what eventually happened with New Excalibur was a bit of a mess when forcedly re-written.