Uncanny X-Men Annual (2nd series) #2

Issue Date: 
March 2009
Story Title: 
White Queen, Dark Reign

Matt Fraction (writer), Mitch Breitweiser (artist – present sequences), Daniel Acuna (artist – past sequences), Elizabeth Dismang Breitweiser (color artist – present sequences), VC’s Joe Caramagna (letterer), Daniel Ketchum (assistant editor), Nick Lowe (editor), Axel Alonso (executive editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Dan Buckley (publisher)

Brief Description: 

Emma Frost, the White Queen, accepts Norman Osborn’s invitation to attend the meeting of his so-called Cabal – a collection of some of the most dangerous people alive, which includes Namor, Doctor Doom and Hood. Emma’s reunion with Namor sparks a recollection of their earliest encounter. Several years ago, after Sebastian Shaw had finally gained control of the Hellfire Club, he was looking for a man worthy enough to grace his Inner Circle and take over the vacant seat of the White King. Shaw finds Prince Namor of Atlantis regal enough for the title and invites him in one of his parties, offering him the seat. An uninterested Namor declines. Shaw then dispatches Emma to the middle of the ocean, to fake a suicide attempt by drowning, in order to get close to Namor and mentally coerce him into changing his mind. However, after Namor rescues her, he carries her to his palace and the two become lovers. Two weeks later, Shaw, angered at Emma’s apparent betrayal, retaliates by dispatching several of Donald Pierce’s mutant-hunting Sentinels in Atlantis to ruin Namor’s kingdom. Namor and Emma trace the source of the attack and finally confront Shaw. As per Shaw’s request, Selene mindwipes Emma, causing her to forget what happened and a much disgusted Namor departs, vowing revenge. In the present, Namor privately meets Emma and strikes a deal with her: he will offer his allegiance to the mutantkind in the impending confrontation with Osborn, in exchange of Emma murdering Shaw. Emma accepts. She lures Sebastian to the old Hellfire Club headquarters and seemingly decapitates him, fulfilling her promise. In reality, she uses her telepathic powers to coerce Namor into believing she truly killed Shaw. After Namor leaves, Emma officially captures the very much alive Shaw for his crimes against mutantkind.

Full Summary: 

S.H.I.E.L.D. Black Box, Facility #5, latitude 55o12 min. 1 sec., longitude 7o15 min., 60 sec.

Inside the S.H.I.E.L.D. airship, the troops are listening carefully, as their superior is given orders by their commander through his radio: “Roger that sir.” He then turns to his men: “All points, stand down.”

The gates behind him open, revealing Namor. The Atlantean prince cautiously crosses the corridors of the shuttle. At the end of the passage he encounters an opening, wherefrom he dives into the ocean. He is now home.

New York City, years ago

It is a rainy night. A pair of cloaked figures approaches the gated entrance of a building which bears the monogram “H.” The cloaked figures cease before the two masked guards at the gate. One of them exhibits a card to one of the guards. “Do as thou wilt but harm none,” the guard replies and welcomes them to the Hellfire Club.

Inside the luxurious mansion, the wealthy party guests entertain themselves, having their glasses re-filled by women in French maid outfits or groping willing young women dressed in nothing but lingerie.

Overlooking his party, the Black King of the Hellfire Club, the mutant known as Sebastian Shaw, appears apprehensive. “Sebastian, darling… what’s wrong?” his aide, Selene, telepathically enquires him. Sebastian admits he’s impatient. He executed a flawless coup to assume leadership of the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle, and yet he is without his White King.

Emma Frost, the White Queen, insolently notes he’s more impatient than a child on Christmas morning. Shaw explains he’s made even more so by not seeing the one thing he most truly wanted. Emma scoffs that maybe he wasn’t a good enough boy this year. She suggests he tells his “Auntie Emma” what his heart most desires. “A man, dammit. A king,” Shaw exclaims. Emma coldly admits that a good man is hard to find. And Shaw’s got himself a party full of dilettantes playing dress up.

Nearby, the businessman known as Tony Stark, sporting a sly grin and drinking from two separate glasses, has a proposal to make to the waitress: quit her job and come work for him. He’ll pay her double… but their dress code is identical!

Descending the central stairs leading to the ballroom, Shaw decides to introduce Emma and Selene to some of the spoiled brats that have floated in here on a tide of entitlement. As the triad comes near Stark, they see him fondling the waitress’ arm and pressing on with his courtship. He insists she at least faxes him her resume…

The waitress hardly pays him any attention as Shaw interjects and shakes hands with Stark. Tony is enthusiastic to admit that, of all the tchotchkes his old man left him, membership to Shaw’s little clubhouse has definitely got to be one of the best. Shaw ironically notes he used the phrase “One of.” How disappointing this must be for Stark, then. He advises Tony to stick around. They shall see if they might spice things up. Tony reassures him it’s plenty spicy. He doesn’t have to go mixing things up on his account. Emma puffs in disdain.

Tony turns around and stares her. Visibly contemptuous of him, Emma introduces herself. Tony smiles and professes he’s completely in love. He asks her if she drinks champagne. Emma clarifies she doesn’t drink that champagne. “Pssht, this?” Tony exclaims and spills the drink, arguing that he wouldn’t be caught dead drinking…

Hey!” the man standing next to Tony, Norman Osborn, protests as Stark’s drink finds its way on his suit. “Oh, hey… sorry…” Tony stammers. “Sorry? You’re ssssorry?!?” Osborn snarls. “You drunken little dandy! You would dare…”

Shaw interjects and castigates Osborn: he’s embarrassing himself. Osborn is at loss to digest what Shaw just claimed: he is embarrassing himself?! Shaw is the one wearing his grandmother’s lace dolly and powdered wig… Shaw interrupts him and grabs Osborn’s index finger. As he begins twisting it, Shaw explains it’s not a wig – and he thinks Osborn has maybe had one too many. While his membership here is lifelong, he’s afraid he has to ask him leave this particular evening where it stands. Holding his aching hand, Norman departs but not before warning Shaw and Stark that they have no idea what Hell truly is – and Norman will one day show them.

Stark grins and tells Shaw that Osborn’s a real nut job. Shaw fails to reply, though: he telepathically informs Selene that the playboy bores him and asks her to occupy him elsewhere. Selene thought he’d never ask. Manipulating Stark’s mind, Selene shifts his attention back to the waitress and psychically convinces him that she likes him. She “suggests” he seeks her and find her. Obedient, Stark announces he’s got to go and goes after the waitress. Watching Tony getting lost in the crowd, Sebastian thinks that Stark is not a leader of men. Still, he’s rich, Emma reminds him. Sebastian retorts that he’s rich, too. It’s not money the Hellfire Club lacks, nor morons that spend it. What they’re missing is a sense of something regal; a little touch of royalty.

Suddenly, both the guests and their scantily-clad entertainers open way for Namor, awed by his presence and regal posture. Shaw telepathically informs Emma this is Namor, the prince of Atlantis and the very first mutant. He knows that just being in this room sickens Namor. He asks Emma to look at Namor, seething. “Don’t worry. I am,” Emma remarks. “Pig,” Shaw whispers to her just as he sees Namor coming near them. “Prince Namor!” Shaw clamors in exaggerated excitement and extends his hand. Namor nonchalantly greets him and refuses to shake hands with him. Shaw nervously announces that they appreciate Namor accepting the invitation of the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle to hear their off…

Namor cuts him off and, with brutal honesty, clarifies that if one of Shaw’s witches pokes inside his head, he will consider it an act of war against Atlantis and kill them all. “My mind is sovereign state, understood?” he hammers the point. Shaw assuages his concerns: his thoughts shall remain his own. He officially welcomes him. As Namor can see the club is nothing if not steeped… if not steeped…

Namor impatiently interrupts the fretful Sebastian: yes, yes, wonderful. Caressing Emma’s hair, he exclaims that he likes this one; they don’t have blondes where he comes from. Emma deters his advances: she’s not her prince. In mocking mood, she asks him: does he always smell like that? “Yes,” Namor smiles and snaps back with a question of his own: “Do you?” He turns his attention to Shaw again and confirms he’ll come to his little meeting. He’s always amused when all these house apes play dress up. But this one – Emma – better be there… or else he’ll get bored.


In the aftermath of a massive alien invasion, Norman Osborn was able to manipulate events to appear to be humanity’s savior. He exploited the opportunity and has seized as much power as possible. In the Avengers Tower, Osborn has now gathered some of the most dangerous people alive to carve the world up as they see fit. Sitting around a table, Namor, Emma Frost, Doctor Doom and the Hood listen carefully as Osborn elaborates on how this is going to be…

Soon, after the secret council is over, outside the room where it took place, Doom is engaged in a private conversation with Namor: “As always, you’re wel…” Emma interposes and Doom’s phrase remains incomplete. Namor asks Doom to pardon them. Doom pauses for a moment before he utters “Indeed” and leaves them alone.

Emma telepathically asks Namor why he pretended not to know her in there. Namor explains he was protecting her. Emma clarifies she doesn’t need his protection and she didn’t ask for it. Namor retorts that she received it all the same; the only lady in a room full of scoundrels like that. He wonders just how she ended up here. Emma quips she’s been playing mutts like him for rubes since he before started waxing his eyebrows. And she ended up here the same way he did: she played the cards she was dealt. As she leaves, Namor argues they should talk. Emma insists they just did.


In the Club’s underground chambers, Shaw, Emma and Selene are holding a meeting with Namor. Shaw informs him that, all around the world, for more than two hundred years, the Hellfire Club has sought out men like Prince Namor. The Club brokers in many things, as Namor may have surmised: pleasure, sex, conspiracy, coercion – and most of all, power. Recently, Shaw has personally usurped the command structure of the Inner Circle and is remaking it in his own image… in their own image… in Namor’s own image… Mutants. All of them are mutants, and Namor is their first.

Finally, Shaw asks Prince Namor, ruler of Atlantis and mutant amongst mutants, whether he will be their White King. The power on the land that the Hellfire Club would allow Namor would be matched only by the prestige his presence would grant them. Namor, however, is at loss: he looks at him… and thinks “mutant?” “I am lord and master over seventy percent of the Earth, you fat little fop,” Namor berates him. He quips that Shaw might as well have asked him to join the secret eyebrow society, for he has those as well – or perhaps a faction of footed, a conspiracy of the be-thumbed. Before he leaves, he delivers a final warning to Sebastian: if Shaw dares waste his time again he will drown this building and everyone it.

Shaw remains silent for a moment… and then slams his fist on the table, absolutely furious: “That arrogant mongrel!” Clenching his teeth with rage, he snarls that no one talks to Sebastian Shaw like that; no one humiliates the Black King! Turning to Emma, he stresses that they need Namor as a part of the Inner Circle. He assigns her the task to bend his will toward their cause, no matter what the cost. No matter what the cost, he says? an intrigued Emma replies. She warns Shaw to be careful what he wishes for; he might just get it. Shaw angrily reminds her there is nothing in this life that she has that he has not allowed. He alerts her to the fact there’s a power differential here and warns her to not allow herself to mistake that for any kind of emotion at all. This is about power; nothing more.


In her hotel room, getting dressed for a night out, the White Queen uses her Bluetooth headset to call Cyclops. “Em?” Scott exclaims upon hearing her voice. “Of course. Who else?” Emma replies. Surprised, Cyclops wonders why she’s calling – why not just telepathically… Emma retorts it’s because she’s paying for the damn minutes, so she might as well use them sometime, right?

As she inspects herself in the mirror, Cyclops nervously asks her whether she’s okay; she sounds mad. Emma insists she’s not mad. Doubtful, Scott pauses for a moment, before he asks Em how it is going in the city. Emma assures him it’s fine – as fine as dealing with family business ever is. She should be home in a few days. She’ll call when she can. “I lov…” Scott tells her but Emma doesn’t allow him time to finish his phrase and hangs up, quipping to herself “…And don’t wait up.”

Emma exits the hotel and enters the limousine that was scheduled to pick her up. “Well? I’m here,” she tells the man waiting for her in the limo – Namor. She thinks he should know that he’s not going anywhere on a first date. Namor quips that this is hardly their first date.


South China Sea

Emma is alone on a yacht in the middle of the ocean, dressed only in her white bikini. She telepathically calls out to Prince Namor and reminds him she’s Emma Frost. She informs him she’s been lying on her yacht for a few hours now and she’s gotten herself bored – so she’s decided to kill herself. She’s got a fifty pound weight clamped around her ankle. She’s going to throw it in the water and see what happens when she can’t breathe anymore. As she proceeds to do so and the weight drags her to the bottom, she adds that she really thought Namor liked her. “Oh well. Goodbye,” she bids him farewell.

Hearing her suicide declaration in his mind, Namor wastes no time. Fast as a rocket, he flies in the air and darts towards Emma’s yacht, diving into the sea. Within moments, he spots her and then swiftly kisses her, to pass some oxygen on the drowning woman. “Finally,” Emma contemplates as he rescues her.

Several days later, Sebastian Shaw sits on his bed, two women lying behind him. Shaw is upset as he mutters Emma’s name. It’s been two weeks. Is she dead? Is she his prisoner? Either way, it’s a waste, he contemplates as he has a sip of wine while inspecting himself in the mirror. One of his mistresses hesitantly calls out his name. “Silence, harlot,” Sebastian roars and tosses the glass of wine aside. He can bear this no longer. “I’m coming for you, Emma Frost,” he declares as he exits his bedroom. He’s coming to find her, one way or another. He will not be made a cuckold by her. As if Emma is standing there before him, he asks her to remember: she made him do this to her. “Damn you!” he curses as he enters her bedroom and picks up one of her hairbrushes. He vows she’ll pay for this – she and that arrogant bastard king.

Shortly afterwards, Sebastian enters a secret room where his aide, Donald Pierce, is testing his Sentinel robots. Shaw produces a strand of Emma’s hair. He believes it should provide enough DNA for Pierce’s little project. Pierce deduces that so it should. Shaw adds that, as a bonus, the person that strand of hair leads to is with another. Pierce likes it: two-for-one deal. He applauds Sebastian for his excellent work. As he pinpoints the location of the owner of the hair, Pierce remarks that this geography can’t be correct. Sebastian assures him it’s correct and warns him that it’s time to test his Sentinels’ ability to hunt underwater.

In Namor’s palace in his Atlantis, in his bedroom, Emma lies on the bed while Namor studies himself in the mirror. Emma wonders if this is what he does down here, all day, every day: rescue girls from the surface world in hope for a quick reward and then some post-coital posing in the mirror. “Hardly,” Namor replies – no more than she plays dress up in a basement and waits foot and hand on the desires of chubby old vanity cases all day, every day. Emma admits that sometimes she’s not sure that’s not what she does… She explains that the thing about Shaw…

Suddenly, the roof crashes down on them, courtesy of a giant Sentinel. “Two mutants located! Eliminate all genetic aberrations!” the robot states. “Friend of yours?” Namor asks Emma. “Not by a long shot,” Emma replies. “Imperious rex,” Namor snarls and flies right through the head of the Sentinel, destroying it. As he exits the palace, he is shocked to witness a massive attack by many similar robots all over his kingdom. He is appalled to see so much carnage in so little time.

As he re-enters his abode, which is now flooding with water, he turns his attention to Frost and asks her whether she really thinks he’s so stupid as to not see through her little ruse: she staged that stunt and led these things to his home. Emma retorts that thing wanted to kill her as much as it wanted to kill him. She explains they’re mutant hunters called Sentinels. She asks him if he now sees what Shaw wants to accomplish: a mutant power base to prevent their very extinction; to fight back against these things trying to snuff them out at all costs. She stresses that, even though Namor might consider himself an Atlantean, genetics don’t lie. He’s one of them whether he likes it or not. If he weren’t, the Sentinels wouldn’t have come here; these things hunt them. Namor declares that this was an act or war – and now they retaliate. He grabs her in his arms and rises in the air.


In a room, surrounded by several security guards, Namor and Emma Frost are having a conversation, while occasionally sipping some wine. Emma vows that she will give him Sebastian Shaw’s head on a platter. Namor is amused: that’s how she would earn his trust? Would she be his Salome? Is there an attendant dance of the seven veils? Emma argues that since he asked her to prove her allegiance to him, this is how she proposes to do it. What she offers to him is Shaw, dead, for his crimes against Atlantis. For his crimes against him. The only man Namor could never get his hands on – Emma, however, very much can.

Namor repeats the deal: she’ll protect him psychically from Osborn’s room of jackals – and, in return, his strength is her strength and he will protect and defend mutantkind as though they were Atlantean when Osborn inevitably comes after them. He suddenly discerns she looks surprised. Emma admits she didn’t think he’d accept. She rather presumed he’d want her in bed. Namor retorts that it’s no fun if she just gives it away. He invites her to read his mind. Does he have any doubt in there, anywhere, that his lips won’t once again know hers? That she shall once again grace his bedroom with her presence? Emma reads his thoughts only to confirm, with a smile, that there’s indeed no doubt at all. Namor insists he can wait. He then makes a toast: to surviving the past, anticipating the future and the delights that lie there in wait.


In Atlantis, in a room full of scientists and machinations, Namor and Emma are waiting. Suddenly, Namor bursts out and admits he tires of waiting. One of the Atlantean scientists believes they’ve found it. He points at a monitor: the monstrosity that attacked them was broadcasting data signals back to this location in the surface world. With no delay, Namor grabs Emma and rushes to the surface. As they leave the ocean behind them, Emma protests she’s soaking wet. Namor replies she’ll dry. They quickly reach the exterior of a mansion. Emma reminds him they don’t know what to expect and she can’t read anything going on inside. She advises him to be careful.

Mocking Emma’s pleas for discretion, Namor violently breaks through a wall of the mansion, demanding that the villains reveal themselves to him. Seeing Shaw and Pierce, he announces that their hour of reckoning is at hand. Shaw doubts that: “Not so fast.” He stresses this is private property. More specifically, his private property. Namor is surprised that this facility belongs to Shaw.

Baffled, Emma tells Shaw that this where the Sentinels were broadcasting data… “Of course, Ms. Frost,” the undeterred Shaw confirms. The federal government is going to build these things one way or another; why shouldn’t he fulfill the contract? He points out the adage “keep your enemies closer” – especially when they make you richer.

Furious, Namor roars that Shaw’s petty little stunt endangered his people. Still in mid-air, he proceeds to attack him. Shaw, however, grabs Namor’s fist, wondering if that little strumpet, Emma, told him how his powers work. He metabolizes energy, absorbs it and redirects it. Proving his point, he absorbs Namor’s energy and punches him away quite brutally. The invulnerable Namor, however, immediately recovers and fiercely pummels Shaw, sending him across the room. Landing atop of him, Namor is satisfied: he was worried that beating Shaw to death wouldn’t be a challenge.

Standing behind Namor, in the company of his Sentinels, Pierce warns him that, if he throws that punch on Shaw, he is dead. Sweeping the blood in his mouth, Shaw argues that he and Namor could have ruled the world. The power they could have amassed would be epic – but he had to go and play snitty. Namor is appalled: he would kill his own in the name of power? That doesn’t make him a leader. It makes him a tyrant. Emma is at loss: how could Shaw do it? The Sentinels have killed mutants. They’ve hunted and killed their own kind. Shaw clarifies he doesn’t want to rule mutantkind. The Hellfire Club has never been obsessed with such trivial things. He wants the world and he wants it now. As he gets back on his feet with Pierce’s assistance, he calls out Selene’s name.

Selene uses her psychic powers on an unsuspecting Emma. Shaw exclaims you’ve got to love telepaths; Emma won’t remember any of this when they’re done. He thoughts she was dead or perhaps Namor’s prisoner. He thought she was a failure. He never imagined she’d betray him. “Shaw, you bastard…” a disgusted Namor grunts. Grinning deviously, Shaw explains he’s surrounded by telepaths that will keep him safe from Namor for the rest of his life. Namor will never get near him again; he won’t get near ten miles of him. Namor notes, with contempt, that surface dwellers are all savages. He promises Shaw this isn’t over and then leaves. Shaw coldly states that yes it is and yes they are. And surely they’ll all burn in Hellfire.


Emma and Namor are in a half-lit mansion full of antiques. Emma reveals that she fought the Phoenix once. She was comatose for ages, her sanity shattered, her identity shredded across ruined neurons. She recalled the events Selene blocked for her as she rebuilt her mind from the inside out. Namor realizes that this… gift she offers him is as much for him as for her. Emma retorts that revenge is so bourgeoisie; this is a vendetta. Shaw stopped having any sway over her ages ago. Namor wonders how she proposes to summon him here. Emma explains that Shaw’s a sexually obsessed little cretin. She could ask him to come wearing his mother’s nightgown and he would.

Reaching out to Sebastian’s mind with her telepathy, Emma tells him she’s at the Club; he remembers the one. She asks him how long it will take him to meet her here. A minute longer and he’ll never see her again, she warns him. As she severs the contact, she informs Namor that Shaw will be here in ten minutes. She points him at some mirrors he can hide and watch; these mirrors are two-way. Shaw designed this place with all of his personal kinks and perversions in mind…

A little later, Shaw finally arrives. Emma sternly instructs him to sit in the armchair. Shaw readily complies. A wry smile plastered on his face, his hands behind his head, he remarks it’s been a while and asks Emma to what he owes the… pleasure. “Call it a fit of nostalgia,” Emma replies. She asks him if he remembers when they first met. Of course, Sebastian assures her. Amused, he recalls she danced her way into the leadership of a Club so elite she wasn’t even qualified to clean its toilets. It was one of the best days of his life; she was magnificent. Emma corrects him: she is magnificent. Unaware to Shaw, she pulls out a long sword concealed behind the armchair.

Namor watches in awe as Emma decapitates Shaw, blood squirting out of the open wound. “My Lord, Emma,” Namor marvels as he rejoins her. He applauds her: that was swordplay worthy of the most ferocious Atlantean warrior. Emma insists she is a woman of her word. She then presents him with his ‘treasure’: Shaw’s head on a plate, just like she promised. Triumphant, Namor addresses Shaw’s head and reminds the dead man that he’d told him it wasn’t over between the two of them. “And now look at you,” he utters in contempt.

Turning to Emma, he announces that he gives her – and mutantkind – his allegiance and loyalty, as if she were his own flesh and blood. Emma stresses that they are his own flesh and blood. “Warm flesh… warm blood…” Namor softly mutters and leans towards Emma for a kiss. Emma stops him, however, pressing a finger on his lips. “Whatever happened to the fun of the challenge?” she deters him. Humbled, Namor admits these are challenging times they live in. Bowing, he asks her to forgive him and proceeds to go. “Until next time, Emma,” he bids her farewell and remarks that she was, as always, a delight.

“And you, my prince. Thanks for the walk down memory lane…” Emma mumbles. She is left alone, still holding the tray with Sebastian’s head on it… and then the illusion dissolves. Shaw’s head is actually a pumpkin. Shaw is alive but unable to rise from his chair. In panic, he screams that he can’t see. Emma explains that she made him think that he was blind. She made him think he could not speak. She’s still making him think he can’t get out that chair. Shaw shouts that he will kill her! Emma retorts he will do no such thing. In fact, he’s going away for a while – a long while. If for no other reason because he quite frankly repulses her.

Shaw thinks she’s preposterous. On whose authority… by what law…? The White Queen argues there’s no law anymore. Hasn’t he heard? Law is dead. The whole world is ending…Pressing her sword against Shaw’s chest, she telepathically contacts Cyclops and asks him to prepare the brig for a new guest. She’s captured Sebastian Shaw for his crimes against mutantkind. Breaking the psychic link, she tells Shaw it’s a brave new world. And she finally gets to be the Queen he trained her to be.

Characters Involved: 

Doctor Doom, Hood, Namor, Norman Osborn, White Queen (the Cabal)

Sebastian Shaw (Hellfire Club)

S.H.I.E.L.D. troops

In the past:

Black King/Sebastian Shaw, Black Queen/Selene, White Queen/Emma Frost (all Lord Cardinal of the Hellfire Club)

Soldiers of the Hellfire Club

Namor the Sub-Mariner

Tony Stark

Norman Osborn

People in the Hellfire Club party

Story Notes: 

The invasion by the alien Skrulls was detailed in the Secret Invasion crossover, in which Osborn managed to publicly emerge as a hero. Osborn then exacted his revenge from Stark, taking over S.H.I.E.L.D. and both firing and outlawing Tony in the process. [Secret Invasion #8] Osborn then invited the five powerful individuals, his proclaimed “Cabal,” for the private meeting shown here. Emma decided to attend the meeting in Uncanny X-Men #505. The meeting itself is depicted in more detail in Secret Invasion: Dark Reign #1. Oddly, Loki is not depicted here, even though she also attended the meeting.

Shaw’s coup which gave him control of the Hellfire Club was shown in detail in Classic X-Men #7.

Continuity is quite problematic here. Shaw’s coup takes place in continuity somewhere between X-Men (1st series) #100 (1976) and #122 (1979). The present story clearly takes place shortly before the first historical appearance of the Hellfire Club in X-Men (1st series) #129 (1980), as evidenced by the presence of Donald Pierce. However, Selene’s presence is extremely problematic, as she didn’t join the Club until New Mutants (1st series) #22 (1984), residing in the Nova Roma for quite some time before that. Furthermore, Selene seems out of character here, acting as a subordinate rather than as an equal to Shaw, in contrast to the original stories. Responding to a fan’s query in the Jinxworld Forums, Fraction finally shed some light to the issue, admitting he had confused Selene with Tessa, Shaw’s aide: “The truth of it is I screwed up. I crash coursed on the entire history of the Hellfire Club and it should've been Tessa. Instead I typed "Selene." And then we ended up behind the eightball to get the book out and so it blew past editorial. It was an honest, if not careless mistake, and I hope we can correct it for trade (or if there's a second printing, I dunno). Your instincts are right-- it's Tessa, I blew it. Mea culpa!”

Equally baffling is Norman Osborn’s presence. He was presumed dead in Amazing Spider-Man (1st series) #122 (1973) and wasn’t revealed alive until Spectacular Spider-Man #240 (1996), where it was established that he had faked his death and was hiding in Europe the whole time. This makes it very unlikely that he would dare to publicly reveal himself alive in the meantime, even in a closed event. This issue cannot be set following his public return in 1996, either, since Emma had already severed all ties with the Club following the demise of the Hellions in Uncanny X-Men #281-282 (1991). Less problematic are the obvious references to Tony’s alcoholism, since he was seen giving up drinking around the same period where this issue is set, in Iron Man (1st series) #128 (late 1979).

Shaw’s persistence of finding a powerful man to rule by his side as the White King will cost him dearly in the future, when Magneto is appointed in the title. [New Mutants (1st series) #51] The rivalry between the two Kings will quickly escalate in a full-blown power struggle, with Magneto, Emma and Selene voting Shaw off the Hellfire Club. [New Mutants (1st series) #75]

Namor’s title as the “first mutant” alludes to the fact he is the first mutant ever to appear in the Marvel Universe, in Marvel Comics #1 (1939), the first comic book produced by Timely Comics, the predecessor of Marvel Comics. However, Namor’s status as a mutant wasn’t established until much later.

Emma’s duel with the Phoenix, which ended with the former lapsing into a coma, can be seen in X-Men (1st series) #131.

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