Sebastian Shaw (comics)

Sebastian Shaw (comics)


caption=Art by John Cassaday.
character_name=Sebastian Shaw
real_name=Sebastian Hiram Shaw
species=Human Mutant
publisher=Marvel Comics
debut="Uncanny X-Men" #129 (January, 1979)
creators=Chris Claremont
John Byrne
alliances=Hellfire Club, Shaw Industries
aliases=Black King I, Lord Imperial III, Black Bishop
powers=Metabolizes kinetic energy into greater physical attributes.|

Sebastian Hiram Shaw is a fictional comic book supervillain in the Marvel Comics universe, and is an adversary of the X-Men.

A mutant, Shaw possesses the ability to absorb kinetic energy and transform it into raw strength. He is the leader of the New York branch of the Hellfire Club, an exclusive secret society bent on world domination, although to the public, he is a legitimate businessman and ordinary human. He once funded the mutant-hunting Sentinel program to keep it under his thumb. Another Black King was a member of the British branch of the Hellfire Club. His real identity is unknown.

Publication history

Created by writer Chris Claremont and artist/co-writer John Byrne, the character first appeared in "Uncanny X-Men" #129 (January 1979).

Comic artist John Byrne based the appearance of Sebastian Shaw on that of British actor Robert Shaw. [] Coincidentally, his name is also that of another late British actor named Sebastian Shaw who is famous for briefly portraying Anakin Skywalker in "".

Fictional character biography

Sebastian Shaw was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His power first manifested shortly after he was accepted to engineering school (Speculated to be Carnegie Mellon University) and his father, Jacob Shaw, died, after he contracted an incurable disease. He devoted himself to his studies and created Shaw Industries, becoming a billionaire by age 40.

Shaw became engaged to a woman named Lourdes Chantel, also a mutant, and was soon initiated into the Hellfire Club thanks to his vast fortune along with Warren Worthington, Jr. (father of Archangel), Howard Stark (father of Iron Man) and Sir James Braddock (father of Captain Britain and Psylocke), having caught the attention of then White King of Hellfire Club's New York Branch, Ned Buckman. Shaw became part of the Council of the Chosen earning the rank of Black Bishop. Lourdes did not trust Buckman and feared Shaw's ambition and the nature of Hellfire Club would corrupt him.

Lourdes was soon killed by Sentinels in a battle. Upon discovering that Ned Buckman, the White King of the Council, was supporting Steven Lang's "Project: Armageddon" and its Sentinels, he executed a coup, using Emma Frost's telepathy to make Buckman kill all the Council of the Chosen, including his own White Queen, Paris Seville, and then himself. Shaw proclaimed himself Black King, remade the Council of the Chosen into his Inner Circle and gathered Emma Frost, Harry Leland and the non-mutant cyborg Donald Pierce as the Lords Cardinal of Hellfire Club. At Shaw's side was Tessa, who, unbeknownst to him, was a spy working for Charles Xavier.

As the leader of the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club, Shaw started plans to dominate the world through force, money and power. His connections to top officials of corporations and government, acquired via the Club and through his position as CEO of Shaw Industries, made him a powerful enemy. Ironically, Shaw was for years a major supporter and builder of Sentinels, figuring that it's better to be in control of them than not. This activity brought him into frequent contact with the major players of "", Senator Robert Kelly and Henry Peter Gyrich, to whom he appeared to be an anti-mutant human bigot.

Shaw was a key part of the corruption of the Phoenix entity into the Dark Phoenix. This battle was Shaw's and the Hellfire Club's first encounter (and, soon, first battle) with the X-Men. Later, during the Hellfire Club's battle alongside the X-Men against Nimrod, a Sentinel from the future, Shaw was thrown into the upper atmosphere by the Sentinel, then caught by Harry Leland's power and slammed at phenomenal speed into Nimrod. This effort had the side effect of fatally overwhelming Leland's weak heart. After the battle, the Hellfire Club and the X-Men became allies of sorts, with Magneto and Storm filling the position of White King. Eventually, Storm left, and Magneto, Selene and Emma conspired to vote Shaw out of the Club.

Months later, Shaw was attacked by his son, Shinobi Shaw, who phased his hand into his father's chest to induce a coronary. Shaw was then supposedly blown up in his Swiss Mountain chalet by a bomb set by his son. Shinobi shortly became the new Black King of Hellfire Club. However, Shaw survived, albeit with a scar on his face crossing his left eye which was removed successfully by Madelyne Pryor (seemingly a sentient psionic construct of X-Man) using her psionic powers during their affair after his reappereance. Shaw became part of a new Inner Circle alongside Selene, Madelyne and Trevor Fitzroy, a descendant of Sebastian himself in an alternate future.

Shaw's first move upon recovery from the bomb was to contact the mutant named Holocaust, who had crossed over from the "Age of Apocalypse" timeline. In exchange for a new armored containment suit, Holocaust agreed to help Shaw capture X-Force, which he did with ease. Shaw then had Tessa telepathically brainwash X-Force to hunt down Cable, but Cable used his own emergent telepathy to break the conditioning and free his team. Shaw's relationship with Holocaust declined soon after.

Shaw's more recent exploits included vying for control of the Elixir Vitae, thought to be a cure for the Legacy Virus; associations with the British intelligence agency Black Air and an unnamed time-manipulator; and hunting down X-51, the Machine Man. Then, Shaw was apparently ousted from his position as Black King by Selene, who installed the demon Blackheart in his place. This arrangement did not last long, as Selene and Blackheart were defeated and Shaw has since returned to power.

He attempted to use Lady Mastermind to control Tessa (now called "Sage") and Storm's team of X-Men (in "X-Treme X-Men"), who were searching for Destiny's prophetic diaries. Then, after Professor X was "outed" as a mutant, Shaw apparently returned to his capitalist roots and converted the NY branch of the Hellfire Club into a strip club, which was in fact a safe haven for mutants regardless of affiliation. Using telepathic strippers, Shaw gleaned secrets from the minds of his patrons, who come in just to have a good decadent time. Thanks to the aid of his employees, Shaw pretended to be a telepath himself.

After a few months, though, Shaw made a play to become the new Lord Imperial of the entire Club worldwide, and invited Sage to help him. Shaw also invited Courtney Ross (who as actually her evil counterpart Sat-yr-9) and Sunspot to join him as the White Queen and Black King. All three accepted, but Sage effectively betrayed Shaw when she didn't warn him that Pierce might try to assassinate him. Shaw met with the X-Men, claiming to be somewhat reformed, just before Pierce's attack. He was then wounded by Pierce, but remained strong enough to literally knock Pierce's head off. However, he was too hurt to maintain his Club position and was replaced by Sunspot, who is now the current Lord Imperial of the Hellfire Club.

Later, it seemed he had joined forces with a new Inner Circle which included Cassandra Nova and Emma Frost, the latter of whom had since joined the X-Men. As the story arc continued to unfold, the Hellfire Club made their attack as they each targeted an individual member of Cyclops' team of X-Men. Shaw himself defeated Colossus. In the end however, it is revealed that the entire Hellfire Club was not real, and all were mental images created by Emma Frost's mind, which was infected with a special "programming" by Cassandra Nova in an attempt to revive her. The Shaw duplicate vanished at the end of the arc.

In the "" one-shot, Shaw appears incognito (with an image-inducer) at a funeral for a mutant boy named Landru. When confronted by Professor X, he merely states that he was paying his respects. Xavier overhears his thoughts of a possible coup against Sunspot during the service. When Shaw notices him watching, he quickly creates a Psi-Shield to hide his thoughts.

In the second epilogue of X-men Legacy 210 Shaw appears at a Hellfire club dinner hosted by Sunspot and is privately alerted to a device exploding elsewhere in the compound resulting in the insanity of two club menials and Shaw asking his manservant for a file labelled "Cronus".

Powers and abilities

Shaw is a mutant with the unique ability to absorb kinetic energy to increase his strength, speed, and stamina to superhuman levels. He absorbs the energy of any blow he is struck by, not just punches, but bullets, and to a less successful degree, physically based energy beams, notably Cyclops' optic blasts. He is capable of absorbing the cutting, piercing and thrusting energy from a blade which makes it exceedingly difficult to cut or stab him with sharp edged weapons. Without absorbing energy he is merely a strong ordinary human, but normally Shaw works to keep his strength at a superhuman level. For example, in one instance, he was shown to spend time hitting a wall after waking in order to build up his power reserves. Shaw also can forego sleep if he receives enough kinetic energy. Often he will have his mercenaries pummel him so that he need not sleep for some time. As a way of aiding himself in combat, Shaw is adept at taunting, and will not let enemies realize his power until they have hit him one too many times. Shaw is so adept at turning an opponents attack to his advantage, members of the X-Men have learned the best way to defeat him is to remove him from the field of battle. The most dramatic example of which was when Rogue threw him hundreds of feet directly up into the air, essentially temporarily defeating him.

He is, however, vulnerable to being incapacitated, or being attacked psionically. Shaw has also been overloaded by being struck by lightning and by falling a great distance when his gravity was increased.

Other key traits are his successful business, and his access to sophisticated weaponry. He also possesses technology that can block telepathic intrusions by Charles Xavier.


* Reverend Hiram Shaw: Sorcerer Supreme and an ambitious Puritan Reverend during the Salem Witch Trials, 1692.
* Sarah Shaw: Hiram's wife. Killed by Dormammu when Hiram refuses to submit to him.
* Obadiah Shaw: Son of Hiram and Sarah. He fell in love with Abigail Harkness, much to the disapproval of his father, who suspected her to be a witch.
* Abigail Harkness: Obadiah's girlfriend. She's arrested for witchcraft after Sarah's death, though Obadiah releases and runs away with her. When the two are chased by Hiram, she reveals that she's a true witch. She is presumably related to Agatha Harkness.
* Elizabeth Shaw-Worthington: A teenager that fled from England when she was 13 years old. In 1780, she was taken by Lady Grey of the Hellfire Club as her protégé, who wanted to use her to seduce General Wallace Worthington and extract military secrets in order to defeat George Washington. Elizabeth fell in love with Worthington and married him, neglecting her duties to Lady Grey. Worthington is killed by the Hellfire Club, though it is hinted that Elizabeth was already pregnant, making her an ancestor of Warren Worthington III.
* Brigadier-General Cornelius Shaw: A member of the Inner Circle of London's Hellfire Club and Sebastian's grandfather. Presumably a King in the London Branch Inner Circle.
* Esau Shaw: Cornelius Shaw's son, who was invited to take his father's place in the Hellfire Club. Killed by brother Jacob.
* Jacob Shaw: Cornelius Shaw's second son and Sebastian's father, who desired the place offered to Esau in the Hellfire Club. He was mutated by Mister Sinister and given limited shapeshifting powers. He kills his brother Esau after assuming the form of Waltham Pierce. After he fell sick, doctors failed to cure him due to his altered genes.
* Shinobi Shaw: Sebastian's son with an unknown woman.
* Anthony Shaw: Black King of the Hellfire Club in Bishop's future timeline, seemingly Shinobi's son.
* William Shaw: Anthony Shaw's son.
* Trevor Fitzroy: Anthony Shaw's illegitimate son, Shinobi's Grandson.
* Samarra Shaw: Leader of Clan Hellfire in the "Chronomancer" alternate future, perhaps Anthony's sister or daughter.

Other versions

Age of Apocalypse

In the Age of Apocalypse, Sebastian Shaw is one of the many mutant aristocrats and a prized servant of Apocalypse. He reveals Angel's connections with the X-Men and other rebels to his master, having seen Angel talking to the former X-Man Gambit.

Forever Yesterday

In the alternate universe created by the Sphinx, Shaw fights against tyranny alongside such heroes as Cannonball, Juggernaut and Beast. This universe is detailed in "New Warriors" Volume 1, #11-13.

House of M

In the House of M, Sebastian Shaw was granted the position of S.H.I.E.L.D. Director after he aligned himself with Magneto and helped him transform Sentinels into mutant-protecting robots.

Ultimate Shaw

The Ultimate version of Sebastian Shaw is also the leader of the Hellfire Club, a secret society that worships the Phoenix God. Ultimate Shaw, unlike his mainstream counterpart, is a regular human. He was killed by the Phoenix.

In other media


Sebastian features heavily in "The Legacy Quest Trilogy" novels, which were written by Steve Lyons. He assists the X-Men against various menaces.


* Sebastian Shaw figured prominently in the Dark Phoenix saga in the X-Men animated series.
* He is also featured in "Wolverine and the X-Men" as part of the Hellfire Club.


Sebastian Shaw appears in "X2" voiced by Charles Siegel and appearing as Dr. Shaw. He appears briefly on a television screen debating with another well-known character from the comics, Hank McCoy.

Video games

In the video game "", which draws loosely from the Age of Apocalypse storyline, Shaw (voiced by Alan Shearman) remains an independent figure. He barters a key to Apocalypse's tower to the X-Men and the Brotherhood.


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