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. Sebastian Shaw devoted himself to his studies and created Shaw Industries, becoming a millionaire by age 30 and a billionaire by age 40.
Joining the Hellfire Club
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 Tony Stark) 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 Project: Wideawake, Senator Robert Kelly and Henry Peter Gyrich, to whom he appeared to be an anti-mutant human bigot.
Meeting the X-Men
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 and Queen . Eventually, after Storm, and Magneto left, Selene and Emma conspired to vote Shaw out of the Club.
Keeping in power
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 reappearance. 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, 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, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and Emma Frost/Perfection, 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 after being defeated by Cyclops.
X-Men: Endangered Species
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.
Mister Sinister and the Cronus Machine \
Some time after this Shaw appears at a Hellfire club dinner hosted by Sunspot and is alerted to a device left to him by his father exploding elsewhere in the compound resulting in the insanity of two club menials and Shaw asking his manservant for a file labelled "Cronus". After being upbraided over the explosion and deaths by da Costa he is ordered to investigate. Shaw however knows the cause. The explosion in the Hellfire Club was caused by the activation of a machine developed beneath the Alamogordo genetics plant in Las Cruces, New Mexico by Mr. Sinister. In the past Sinister had worked here (disguised as a Dr Milbury) alongside Brian Xavier, Kurt Marko and Irene Adler who had been gathered for him by Jacob Shaw, Sebastian's father, as they all had the X-gene and Sinister predicted their children would be mutants. Sinister then experimented of these children (including Cain Marko, Charles Xavier and Sebastian himself), imprinting himself on their DNA. Sinister's machine, dubbed the Cronus device, was designed to activate soon after his death and would activate these hidden copies until Sinister could be reborn in one of them. Jacob, wanting to protect his son, created the device in the Hellfire club from Sinister's notes to alert and protect Sebastian from the Cronus device. Shaw travelled to New Mexico to visit another of the children to confirm his theory, running into Xavier and Gambit who were investigating a hitlist with the children's names on it. Following them he is present when they are attacked by mercenaries under the employ of Amanda Mueller, a former associate of Sinister's. Xavier is captured and Gambit and Shaw team up to save Xavier. It is revealed that Mueller wants to house the powers (though not the personality) of Sinister herself and so is assassinating the children, having undergone the procedure herself. She shoots Xavier, who is already struggling to stop Sinister from taking over his body, which allows him to take over. Sinister in Xavier's body stops Mueller but is in turn confronted.
Later, Shaw joins forces with Claudine Renko, a.k.a. Miss Sinister, a female clone of Mister Sinister. Together they manipulate Wolverine into defeating the new members of the Inner Circle, try to take control of Logan's son, Daken, and set up a trap against Xavier. Shaw also attempts to kill Xavier but is stopped by Daken.
During her early days as the White Queen, Sebastian Shaw sends Emma to convince Namor to join the Hellfire Club. Instead, Namor takes her to his kingdom and they begin a relationship. Believing Emma to have betrayed him for Namor, Shaw sends a reprogrammed sentinel to Atlantis, attacking the two and destroying the kingdom. As Namor confronts Shaw for his treachery, Selene takes telepathic hold of Emma, erasing her memories of Namor, who vows revenge on Shaw. In the present, Emma reveals that her initial battle with Phoenix unlocked her memories of Namor. She makes a pact with him, seducing Shaw and using her telepathy to make Namor believe she has executed him, while secretly telepathically incapacitating Shaw. Per their deal, Namor vows to protect mutant-kind as his own people, while Emma, more determined to fill her role as a leader of mutant-kind, contacts Scott to have Shaw captured by the X-Men for "crimes against mutant-kind." Approaching him later in his cell, Emma reveals that she has captured Shaw for Namor and on the basis that the Sentinels he commissioned were ones later used by Cassandra Nova to destroy Genosha. She sentences him to remember nothing but the faces of the Genoshan victims using her telepathy. Shaw is last seen in an underground prison containing people who the X-Men consider to be high threats to society. It is unknown how many people in the X-Men even know about the prison, but it is looked over by Emma Frost and now Danger as warden. The prison is a secret to the public and government.
Later, Emma opted to dispose of him more permanently and threw him out of a plane over China. Shaw survived however and Emma was forced to completely erase his memories, leaving him a blank state.
Later, mutant messiah Hope Summers detected Shaw and mistook him for a new mutant. She brought him back to Utopia where he was attacked by Cyclops. After learning that Shaw had no memories of who he was, Cyclops allowed Hope to put him on her squad. Hope later gave him a file containing everything he'd done before losing his memory, but he decided not to read it.
When the Avengers fought the X-Men over how to deal with the Phoenix Force, the Avengers captured Shaw and several of the young denizens of Utopia. They were transported to the Avengers Academy and Shaw was imprisoned in a cell that wouldn't allow him to generate kinetic energy by banging the walls at Wolverine's insistance. The Avengers made the mistake of giving Shaw a book however and after spending hours banging it against his head, he absorbed enough energy to break out. The Avengers found out that Shaw had indeed read his file and since he was heading towards the children, they assumed he was going to kill them. Shaw surprised them by freeing his fellow mutants. The Avengers Academy staff agreed to let Shaw and the other mutants leave and return to Utopia.
Powers and Abilities
Kinetic Energy Absorption: Sebastian Shaw is a mutant with the superhuman ability to absorb kinetic energy and to metabolize it to enhance his own physical strength, speed, and stamina. This makes him extremely difficult to defeat in battle, as every blow struck to him only makes him stronger. Unusual tactics must be used to defeat him, usually by incapacitating him or by attacking him psionically. He absorbs the energy of any blow he is struck by, not just punches, but bullets, and to a less successful degree, electricity and physically based energy beams. 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.
- Kinetic Metabolism: Shaw also can forgo sleep if he receives enough kinetic energy. Oftentimes he will have his mercenaries pummel him so that he need not sleep for some time.
- Enhanced Durability: Shaw can still be crushed/cut, but cuts are superficial because he saps the blade of all its thrusting/cutting energy. Shaw is adept at not letting enemies realize his power until they have hit him one too many times. Hitting Shaw is often described as "punching a mattress". If properly energized Shaw can lift and hold approximately one hundred times his weight. If bound, he can be punched by a teammate until he is strong enough to break the bonds. He is also adept at taunting foes into attacking.
- Enhanced Speed
- Enhanced Stamina
- Accelerated Healing: He has healed from being hit repeatedly in the nose by Colossus in less than a few hours.
- Kinetic Energy Contact: After being repeatedly hit by Colossus once, he simply touched Colossus' head and Colossus' nose started to bleed.
His powers make him a formidable opponent even against people like Colossus.Being leader of the Hellfire Club has given him some level of leadership and strategy skills.
Without having absorbed additional energy, Sebastian Shaw possesses the normal strength of a man of his age, height, and build who engages in intensive regular exercise. However, Shaw can gain superhuman levels of strength by absorbing kinetic energy, and usually takes care to absorb enough in order to keep his strength at a superhuman level throughout his waking hours: for example, upon waking he will punch walls repeatedly in order to build up his reserves of absorbed energy. There is a limit to the amount of physical strength he can achieve, but it as yet remains unknown.
Shaw's abilities can be overloaded by too great an influx of power, like being hit with too many super punches. He can also be defeated if an opponent focuses on simply immobilizing him without striking him with significant force, or if something heavy falls on him, for though he can sap the kinetic falling energy, the weight could still crush him, unless he is strong enough to lift/stop it. The X-Man known as Rogue once defeated Shaw simply by picking him up and throwing him straight up into the sky, effectively removing him from the battlefield. There is an upper limit to the amount of energy that Shaw can absorb and convert: once he was "overloaded" by an electrical energy discharged from the X-Man named Storm, and fell into a temporary coma. However, the exact extent of this limit remains unknown. He has also shown some telepathic ability.
- No criminal record
- The general public in unaware of Shaw's criminal activities
- O*N*E Danger Rating: Severe
- Sebastian Shaw was one of the 198 mutants to retain his powers after M Day. What's more, his being a mutant was documented by the O*N*E. However, due to his social and financial standing, he was above the jurisdiction of the O*N*E.
In other media
- Sebastian Shaw figured prominently in the Dark Phoenix saga in X-Men.
- Sebastian Shaw first appears at the end of the Wolverine and the X-Men episode "Shades of Grey" voiced by Graham McTavish. He is shown as a member of the Hellfire Club. In "Foresight," he and the Hellfire Club prepare a ritual to extract the Phoenix Force from Jean Grey.
Sebastian Shaw appears as Dr. Shaw in X2 voiced by Charles Siegel. He appears briefly on a television screen debating with another well-known character from the comics Hank McCoy. He also appears as the main antagonist in X Men: First Class, where he is played by Kevin Bacon.
- Sebastian Shaw appears in the video game X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse (which draws loosely from the Age of Apocalypse storyline) voiced by Alan Shearman. He remains an independent figure in this video game. He barters a key to Apocalypse's tower to the X-Men and the Brotherhood.
- Sebastian Shaw is revealed to be the owner of the cybernetics lab in the videogame X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the game based on the film of the same name, in a worklog.