Sebastian Shaw is one of the lesser heralded X-Men adversaries, often overshadowed by the likes of Magneto, Apocalypse, and Sabretooth. Even his own ally Emma Frost, the White Queen, gets more attention. But Shaw is a powerful enemy of the X-Men in his own right, and a ranking member of the sinister Hellfire Club. The exclusive social club has existed for hundreds of years, counts only the most elite, upper-class citizens among its members, and is designed to allow a privileged wealthy few to enjoy the pleasures that wider society deems distasteful.
Though raised in a lower-class family, Shaw would quickly come to financial success, building his own business empire, Shaw Industries, which would allow him access to the exclusive Hellfire Club. The multi-billion-dollar corporation produces powerful technology including advanced weaponry, and boasts lucrative contracts with various military agencies, particularly within the US government. Those contracts have earned him incredible riches, and found him a place among the wealthiest supervillains in the Marvel Universe. After a time, Shaw’s wealth, power, and influence even helped him to oust the leader of the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle, The White King, and he subsequently took control of the organization as its new leader, adopting the moniker of The Black King.