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Selene, the Black Queen (classic era) v1.0

By Chris Cottingham

Source of Character: Marvel Comics (mostly X-Men and New Mutants)

Helper(s): The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Deluxe Edition, v.2; Dr. Peter S. Piispanen (for comments on Selene, plus the Professor X and Kulan Gath writeups); the Marvel Universe Magic Sourcebook; Pufnstuff (for Danielle Moonstar); Gareth Lewis (for Rachel Summers)

Reasons (1): This Classic writeup covers Selene from her first New Mutants appearance until the beginning of the business with the Upstarts. (Anyone who wants to use it to help them develop a modern version is welcome! My impression is that her abilities stay pretty much in-line with what I have here anyway.) The cut-off point means that she’s mostly presented as envisioned by her creator, Chris Claremont. In many ways she’s an example of the typical Claremont über-woman, of the demon-sorceress sub-class.

Reasons (2): Nova Roma has been retconned and re-retconned. As best as I can tell, the current official stance is that Nova Roma is indeed an ancient lost city composed of Roman and Incan refugees. That’s the stance I’m taking as this is a Classic writeup. The fact that I much prefer Nova Roma as a real lost city, and that the non-Nova Roman Magma was never a viable character, has nothing to do with it. :)

Reasons (3): Selene’s power levels are tough to pin down. She has so many powers that it is often unclear whether she’s used magical powers or mutant ones, and I’ve had to make some judgment calls in places where the comics aren’t specific. These decisions fit what we see, are explained in detail in the special sections below, and are as logically consistent as I can make them. Of course, many comic book writers hate logical consistency, so take this for what it’s worth.

Reasons (4): Despite being called a “psychic vampire” who “feeds on lifeforce”, Selene definitely has Vampirism, rather than Mind Drain or Spiritual Drain. High-BODY opponents like Rogue or a powered-up Sunspot are able to weather her attacks best. In at least one instance it appeared that Rachel Summers was able to resist her psychic vampirism, but Selene was actually using Control.

Quotes

Selene

“I am Selene, daughter of the Moon, mistress of the fire. Come, children. Give yourselves to me.”

“You are young, your lifeforce full and pure. That is good. I do you the supreme honor, girl. For with your death… you give me LIFE !

“Many have tried to slay me. Their bleached bones are eloquent testament to their success.”

“With each death — each exquisite moment of agony — my youth and vigor are restored. Feel it, Danielle… the darkling ecstasy that sustains me. Is it not wonderful ?! Do you not hunger for more ?!?”

“Are you a glutton for punishment, boy ? Is my death of sleep too quick and easy ? Would you rather I rend you limb from bloody limb ?”

“Come to me, child — yield to my dark embrace — and you will never be weak, never need fear, again.”

“I am a predator, child. Since time immemorial, homo sapiens has been the prey of the Dark Huntress — Selene ! Very soon now, it shall be yours as well.”

“Resistance is useless, your raw power no match for my eons of experience. Embrace my darkness, Rachel. Be one with me. Savor in full measure the joy of the eternal hunt… the ecstasy of — the kill !”

“Kulan Gath — you utter, complete, pathetic fool — to think one who knew you so well would allow herself to be taken captive with such childish ease. Why risk myself, after all, when there are so many noble heroes to fight — and die — for me ? Now, none are left to oppose me as I cast the Master Spell over the entire world — a world Selene shall rule forever !”

“Are you afraid, Shaw ? If so, perhaps the time has come for a Queen to rule ?”

Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

Click here to hide or display the game stats

Selene, The Black Queen
Dex: 06 Str: 05 Bod: 08 Motivation: Power Lust
Int: 08 Wil: 08 Min: 10 Occupation: Sorceress, Cult Leader
Inf: 11 Aur: 13 Spi: 13 Resources {or Wealth}: 014
Init: 25 [33] HP: 065

Powers: Animate Objects: 11, Control (ML): 10, Detect (Mutants): 07, Digging: 12, Disintegration: 09, Drain Resistance: 12, Earth Animation: 18, Earth Control: 14, Flame Control: 09, Flame Immunity: 04, Glue: 14, Hypnotism: 11, Invulnerability: 15, Iron Will: 08, Mind Blank: 08, Mind Field: 03, Mind Probe: 08, Sorcery 15, Superspeed: 08, Telepathy: 06, Vampirism (ML): 10

Bonuses and Limitations: Too many to mention here — see the special sections below. Note that most of Selene’s powers are Contingent on just a few metapowers (Earth Control, Hypnotism, and Vampirism, along with her Sorcery). Also note that Animate Objects, Earth Animation, and Superspeed are Fatiguing.

Skills: Occultist: 15, Thief (Stealth): 06

Advantages: Area Knowledge (Nova Roma), Credentials (as Black Queen of the Hellfire Club), Languages (Latin, English, Incan, Stygian/Hyborian, probably other ancient languages. Sumerian, Ancient Greek, Persian, etc. In more modern times she may have learned French, and likely Spanish or Portueguese. She probably knows translation spells anyway.), Magic Background, Magic Rank (Master of Chaotic Magic), Omni-Connection, Scholar (Ancient Roman culture, Incan culture), Scholar (Demonology, Immortality Magic, Necromancy), Scholar (Spellcraft), Miscellaneous: her normal aging is forestalled by use of Vampirism, making her functionally immortal, as explained below.

Drawbacks: Secret Identity, Miscellaneous: when Selene takes Mind or Spirit damage (through Fatigue, regular attacks, or Mystical Bashing Damage from her Sorcery), she begins to age rapidly and acquires the Old drawback. She must use Vampirism to replenish her energy levels and restore her youth. See below for details.

Connections: Cult of Black Fire (High), Hellfire Club Operatives (High), Lords Cardinal of the Hellfire Club (Low)

 

Technical Notes
Black Magic Woman

Selene is an ancient and feared sorceress who rivals Kulan Gath, but her exact power level is hard to determine. To my surprise, I can’t cite definite proof of her using Sorcery at more than 12 APs, but she doesn’t seem to be at her limit when utilizing that level of power.

Secondary sources like the TSR Marvel Super-Heroes Game and the Saga Marvel RPG indicate higher levels of power, but they also state that her Sorcery is more draining and more rarely used than her other powers. In my first draft of Selene I therefore rated her Sorcery at 18 APs, with a Limitation that Sorcery did Fatiguing damage in addition to the normal Mystical Bashing Damage. As noted in her Drawbacks above, such damage would also cause Selene to age rapidly and acquire the Old Drawback.

Research won out over the secondary sources, though. Her actual performance in the comics shows that she doesn’t avoid using Sorcery at all, and it doesn’t age her. She uses low-to-mid level spells freely, casting Illusions, creating Force Shields and Magic Shields, hurling bolts of bedevilment (Energy Blast or Magic Blast), creating mystic Snares, hiding from magical detection (Obscure), etc. She’s also Teleported at least once, though she also sometimes relies on trickery — a momentary hypnotic trance blanking out observers while she Superspeeds away. The fact that she chose to use magic for attacks (like Energy Blast or Snare) rather than Earth Control or Glue indicates that there’s no particular favoring of her mutant powers over her magical ones. She does seem to use Sorcery less after joining the Hellfire Club; I’d guess this is just concealing her full powers from the other Lords Cardinal. I’m not sure they know about her psychic vampirism, either. Her fake Teleport chicanery may be more of the same, as it was first used in front of Sebastian Shaw.

Most of the evidence for her power level comes from the Kulan Gath storyline (Uncanny X-Men 190-191). Gath’s Master Spell transforms all of Manhattan Island, and is potent enough to overwhelm both Charles Xavier and Dr. Strange. Selene resists it with ease, mitigates its effects on others, hides her presence from Kulan Gath, and maintains a long-term illusion which enables her to switch places with Magma. All told, her spells of Exorcism, Illusion, and Obscure require a minimum of 12 APs of Sorcery, and almost certainly several APs more. She maintains the spells of Illusion and Obscure for a long period of time without any sign of strain or Mystical Bashing Damage. Even after Kulan Gath takes the disguised Magma prisoner, Selene maintains the “Magma is really Selene and I’m really Magma” illusion for at least several hours more, indicating at least 3 or 4 APs more power. It’s possible that Selene is somehow periodically renewing the illusion, from a distance. But doing that without tripping Gath’s Magic Sense would probably still require 3 or 4 more APs of Sorcery for a more powerful Obscure spell. While maintaining those spells, she does rely exclusively on her mutant powers (plus some fair strategy and manipulation) for actual fighting. So her limits are still probably below Gath’s range, with her other powers making up the difference.

All of that indicates about 15 APs of Sorcery, without being Fatiguing, as a pretty conservative estimate. Like most sorcerers, she normally restricts herself to avoid taking needless Mystical Bashing Damage. In her case, exceeding 12 APs of Sorcery causes both MBD and aging. She may be even more powerful, and upgrading her to 16 or even my original 18 APs of Sorcery isn’t too far out of line. It’s almost never worth it for her to use that much power, though, not when she has other resources to draw on.

Speaking of other resources, Selene doesn’t recite spells calling on the power of Mystic Entities, and it’s unclear whether she has any Mystic Entity Connections. This is very unusual for a mage of her ability, but as she considers herself a goddess, she probably doesn’t favor praying to anyone else.

Her instant grasp of Kulan Gath’s complicated Master Spell, and her certainty that she could transfer control of it to herself and expand it worldwide, indicate a high degree of Occult Knowledge and Ritual Casting. We rarely see her using Rituals, though, beyond the occasional demon-summoning. I gave her a Scholar in demonology based on that. Her Scholars in Immortality and Necromancy are a guess on my part, but they seem appropriate. If her psychic vampirism is in fact a spell (as discussed below), then she’s discovered or devised a necromantic spell of life-draining which makes her functionally immortal.


Queen of the Earth

Selene’s primary mutant ability, and the power she almost always uses first, is a variant of telekinesis. It enables her to control inanimate objects. She frequently claims that her control over the inanimate is absolute, and on a macro-level that’s very nearly true. She can’t transmute elements, but she can reduce nearly any object to dust or shape the world around her to her whims. She can repair a shattered chair, excavate vast tunnels, or cause the ground to flow over and suffocate a dozen victims at once.

In game terms, this is represented by her Earth Control, with a host of Bonuses, Limitations, and corollary powers that are Derived from and Contingent to her Earth Control. First, Earth Control is not limited to just earth and rock; it can affect any solid, unliving substance (synthetics, metals, even formerly living substances like hardwood floors) (+2). Earth Control can also reshape solids, not just move them (+1). Selene can close a tunnel mouth by causing the rock walls to flow over the opening, or form broken pieces of a chair back into a whole. Her ability to reshape objects lets her use Earth Control for Grappling attacks (+1). Of course, as with standard Earth Control, Selene may cause inanimate objects (even the ground) to fling themselves at a target as a normal Physical Attack, as well. However, Selene has never been seen using Earth Control to create dirt or dust storms so I’m guessing that’s not an ability she has (-2). The total Factor Cost adjustment to Earth Control, then, is +2.

Animate Objects, Digging, Disintegration, Earth Animation, Flame Control, Flame Immunity, and Glue are all Contingent to her Earth Control power — meaning if it is somehow Neutralized or Burned Out, all the derived abilities fail as well.

Selene frequently enhances her control of the inanimate with some of the extra lifeforce she steals via her psychic vampirism. Projecting bits of this lifeforce into objects, or the earth itself, makes them truly self-directing.

In this fashion she has animated giant humanoids, a rock wolf, or an entire roomful of objects. These abilities are modeled by her Powers of Animate Objects and Earth Animation. Animated Objects can change shape to a minor degree, enough to enable them to move and carry out Physical Attacks like Grappling. Selene often has them manifest hands to grab an opponent (+0 to +1, depending on House Rules). As noted, Animate Objects is Contingent on Earth Control (-1). Because of the lifeforce drain, this Power is also Fatiguing (-2). Damage from Fatigue will cause her to age rapidly, as discussed elsewhere in the writeup.

When Earth Animation is used to animate multiple creatures, the APs of Power are split (via normal math) among all the creatures. For example, two giant rock creatures with Physical Attributes of 8 and Mystical Attributes of 1 can be animated simultaneously, using up 18 APs of Power (+0). Earth Animation is Contingent to Earth Control (-1), like Earth Control it can affect any inanimate substance (+2), and it is Fatiguing (-2) — with the damage from Fatigue causing aging. Total FC adjustment to Earth Animation is -1.

Selene can also turn inanimate objects to dust. This is represented by Disintegration, Contingent to Earth Control (-1), and only affecting inanimate materials (-1). It probably does not do continuing damage (probably lowering the Base Cost). The total FC adjustment to Disintegration is -2.

Selene can also control fire, and appears to be immune to flame. This is handy for someone who likes to throw people in lava pits. She can stand in a building in a raging inferno without discomfort (Flame Immunity) while increasing the intensity of the fire and directing the direction of its spread or retreat (Flame Control). Both Flame Control and Flame Immunity are Contingent to Earth Control (-1 each).

Selene often uses her control of the inanimate to trap opponents. Sometimes this is a Grappling attack, as already mentioned. An example is causing an enemy’s costume to tighten and constrict. But often the attack is more serious than mere grappling. These attacks are represented by her Glue power, where the ground rises up and flows over a target, sometimes swallowing them whole in a “wave” of earth. Glue is thus Derived from Earth Control (-1) and requires an environment of opportunity (-1), which limits the RAPs she can score.Basically, the target(s) must be standing on or near a surface that Selene’s Earth Control can affect, and the RAPs can’t exceed the BODY of that substance. If the targets are standing on a steel floor (BODY 12), the Black Queen can cause the floor to grab or flow over them, with maximum RAPs of 12. Total FC adjustment to Glue is -2.

Dark Huntress

The secret of Selene’s long life is that she is a psychic vampire, feeding on the lifeforce of other humans to replenish her own. By force of will she drains the life energy of her victims, maintaining (or restoring) her youth and superhuman vigor while leaving them withered and, if killed, often entirely disintegrated. She also learns the names of her victims and retains knowledge of them after she kills them.

In Game terms, she is using Vampirism. Her Vampirism is Lethal (-1) and has a limited Range of about 1 AP (-1). But RAPs from a Vampirism attack can be used to heal Body, Mind, or Spirit as needed (+4). Vampirism therefore has a +2 FC adjustment.

As already stated, her victims often turn to dust. I assume this is a side-effect of her ability to Disintegrate the inanimate. Her victims are no longer animate, you see; they are very, very dead. Assume that Disintegration automatically attacks the body of anyone killed by Vampirism, without need of a second Dice Action from Selene (+0 as this is just a special effect). Likewise, her knowledge of her victims seems to be a corollary use of Mind Probe. This can also be treated as a +0 special effect since it only really happens with unimportant NPCs. If she wants to read a named character’s thoughts, she has to use Mind Probe as a separate action.

It’s worth noting that victims of Selene’s psychic vampirism are often killed ritually. In her role as a “goddess” and the Black Priestess of the Cult of Black Fire, Selene typically threw the sacrificee(s) into a pit of molten lava — which is eeevil. She often coerces the victims lightly with her mental powers, making them unable to resist but aware of what’s happening. This leaves her victims able to plead for mercy and to scream in pain and terror. Selene can, has, and does drain victims perfectly effectively without all the melodrama. She just enjoys being worshipped via ritual murder. Because she’s evil. And pretentious.

Draining just that portion of a person’s lifeforce which gives them free will grants the Dark Huntress the Power of Control. Her Control is Contingent to Vampirism (-1), and seems to have even less Range than Vampirism, as she’s only used it by touch (-1).

The extra lifeforce that Selene’s psychic vampirism gives her can enhance her mutant powers to animate objects, as discussed above. It also apparently gives her superhuman strength and speed, the ability to ignore mortal wounds (like swords through the heart), and an immunity to attempts by others to drain her own health or powers. These traits are represented by STR, BODY, Drain Resistance, Invulnerability, and Superspeed.

Drain Resistance, Invulnerability, and (probably) Superspeed are Contingent on Vampirism (-1 each). Invulnerability is vs. Physical, Mental, and Mystical Damage (+2). Superspeed is a significant power drain; it is Fatiguing (-2), causing rapid aging until she replenishes herself through a new use of Vampirism. Superspeed must be activated with an Automatic Action (-0, since otherwise the Fatiguing Limitation would kill her), which is why her Initiative score fluctuates.

Selene claims that she can teach her psychic vampirism to others. While not definitive, this would imply that it is a learned ability, probably derived from magic. Based on that, I decided that Vampirism and Control were Mystic Linked.


External Life

Some stories after the “classic” period call Selene an External. I doubt this, actually. The other Externals didn’t have to drain lifeforce, and I suspect her immortality is functionally different from theirs. To put it another way, Selene is an External if an External is defined as any immortal mutant. But if you define an External as a particular cabal of immortal mutants that have a mysterious connection to each other (like the immortals on Highlander), then Selene’s in a different camp. I imagine that’s why she killed them, actually.

As a “goddess”, she probably disliked them going around claiming that she was part of their club, as that implies that they are her peers. She therefore showed them that, actually, they were not her equals. By slaughtering them. I’ve mentioned that she’s evil.

That Hideous Strength

Like a true vampire, Selene’s stated to be superhumanly strong, and the evidence backs that up. She frequently and effortlessly hoists big thugs into the air with one hand, holding them helpless with her grip on their neck. STR 04 would be borderline-superhuman for a woman of her build, and *might* let her do what we’ve seen, but 05 “feels” more in line with what I think is the author’s intent. STR 06 wouldn’t be out of line either. According to the OHOTMU, she’s about twice as strong as Captain America, who’s in that STR 06 range. This means I’m not inflating her stats, I’m being conservative. That’s tough for me, and you should give me a cookie. Selene won’t, because she’s evil.

Also note that when Selene ages, her stats are unaffected, beyond the loss of Initiative that goes with the Old Age Drawback. One of those instances of her holding a thug by the scruff of the neck occurred while she looked like a withered old hag. Old, but spry.

I Am Proof Against Your Mind Tricks

Selene also has significant mental powers, whether derived from her mutant nature or from magical disciplines. In addition to her vampiric Control, she has a significant ability to influence other minds whether she’s drained their life energy or not. She can see into their thoughts, and has at least some ability to project her own in close proximity. (The only time she’s been shown using Telepathy at a distance, she was Controlling Rachel Summers and forcing Rachel to broadcast her thoughts.) She can also detect other mutants, feeling their power and their kinship with her.

She has very advanced abilities to hide her thoughts from others. Charles Xavier called her a psychic chameleon, able to blend her thoughts into the background “noise” of other minds, creating a psychic static that could foil even his abilities. She can also protect herself from mental assaults, but to a lesser extent. In that area, Xavier’s power was overwhelming. She could block Danielle Moonstar’s attacks successfully when she was paying attention, but when she was distracted Dani could slip through her defenses.

My hunch is that these abilities are part of her mutant powers, variants on telepathy as her other powers are variants on telekinesis. I therefore have represented them as aspects of a single ability. Accordingly, she has Detect (Mutants), Iron Will, Mind Blank, Mind Field, Mind Probe, and Telepathy, all Contingent to her Hypnotism (-1 each except Hypnotism).

Detect (Mutants) has the Discerning Bonus (+1), allowing her to evaluate power levels and possibly other information. It also activates automatically when mutants are nearby, giving Selene a chance to detect them at any time. This is similar to the auto-activation feature of Danger Sense (+2). Detect (Mutants) has a total FC adjustment of +2.

The Lords Cardinal

As Black Queen of the Hellfire Club, Selene is one of the highest ranking members of the Inner Circle’s Lords Cardinal. Her Connection and Credentials with the Hellfire Club means that she can access their facilities, order Hellfire mercenaries around, make use of Hellfire equipment and technology, etc. Her Connection with the Lords Cardinal themselves is only tenuous, however. As a group they are power-hungry and full of dissension, and Selene’s barely veiled ambitions to oust Sebastian Shaw ups the tension considerably. The Lords Cardinal will answer each other’s calls, and usually maintain an appearance of civility around their minions, so there is a Low Connection. But they will rarely share everything with each other, and none of them (except von Roehm, her priest) trust Selene at all.


Background

Real Name: Presumably Selene
Other Aliases: Daughter of the Moon, the Black Priestess, the Dark Huntress, the Black Queen
Marital Status: Widowed (several times over)
Known Relatives: Senator Marcus Domitius Gallio (husband, deceased); Amara Juliana Olivia Aquilla (purported descendant)
Group affiliation: Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club; Cult of Black Fire
Base Of Operations: the Hellfire Club, New York City; formerly Nova Roma
Height: 5’10” Weight: 130 lbs. 
Eyes: Blue Hair: Black

Powers and Abilities

Selene styles herself a goddess, and not without reason. She’s both a mutant and a powerful sorceress and is known to have lived for millennia. Her powers fall into four broad categories. As a sorceress, she has a wide range of occult knowledge and is a formidable spellcaster. Second, her mutant powers give her mastery over the inanimate, represented by Earth Control. Animate Objects, Digging, Disintegration, Earth Animation, Flame Control, Flame Immunity, and Glue are all Contingent to Earth Control. Third, she has various powers to influence the mind. This is modelled by Detect (Mutants), Iron Will, Mind Blank, Mind Field, Mind Probe, and Telepathy, all Contingent to her Hypnotism. These are probably mutant abilities as well, though they could also be part of the mental disciplines that many sorcerers in the Marvel Universe develop. (In that case, these abilities would be Mystic Linked.) Finally, she is a psychic vampire. This ability may be connected to her mutant powers, or derived from her sorcery, or both.

Selene wields her various powers with skill. As she constantly reminds her opponents, she has centuries of experience. The clever combination of her various powers often makes it difficult to tell when she is using a mutant power and when she is using magic. Indeed, when she animates a creature made out of stone, she may be using both.

The Black Queen doesn’t generally use HPs on LDD, relying on her Invulnerability. When she does (when it’s really important to her, like her first attempt to capture Rachel Summers), she can show impressive resilience, being tackled by Rogue without ill effect. She’s ignored swords and crossbow bolts through the heart, and survived being engulfed in lava and buried in rubble without trouble. On other occasions, she can be stunned by pretty low-powered attacks, like Diamondback’s throwing diamond. (In that case, though, she’d already been hurt battling the Red Skull’s Skeleton Crew, and Diamondback Blindsided her while spending lots of HPs to save Cap.)

Amusingly, considering her power level, Selene seems to like sneaking up on people. She’s able to do so surprisingly often by use of Thief (Stealth). Getting close is important for her Vampirism and especially her Control, so she’ll sometimes use other tactics to get close. Illusions, momentary hypnotic trances, pure Superspeed, or making floors, walls, and objects grab people are all techniques she has used to get close. When her enemies split up, she’s been known to Control one, use magic to swap their appearances (Sorcery used for Chameleon), and send the Controlled foe, looking like Selene, to attack her other enemies. If her pawn wins, Selene will Control the downed enemies. If her pawn loses, she’ll drop the masking spell and close in while the victors are confused. She’ll use similar tactics if she needs to flee. A favorite in that circumstance is to use Hypnotism to create a momentary trance, putting those around her in a “fugue” state for 1 phase. While they are unaware, she’ll Superspeed away.

When facing multiple foes she’ll use Glue for a Multi-Attack, covering people in the floor or the earth. When feeling particularly hurried or vicious, she’ll often combine this with a Trick Shot at the mouth and nose, literally burying her targets alive. In such circumstances, the target begins to suffer under the Drowning rules. In this way, she’s killed a dozen Morlocks in a single attack (during the Kulan Gath storyline).

History

Old World

Selene’s origin is as yet unrevealed, but it is possible that she is the oldest human mutant in the Marvel Universe. In ages past, she was also a renowned sorceress, her power feared and respected by other initiates of the Art. She was an enemy and rival of Kulan Gath in the Hyborian Era 12,000 years ago, and she may be even older than that.

Eons ago, Selene established a cult to worship her as a goddess. She was either confused with, impersonated, or in fact was the Moon goddess Selene of the Titans. Over the millennia, the Cult of Black Fire has spread around the world and survives to the present day, complete with a hereditary priesthood.

At some point Selene came to live in Nova Roma, a lost city hidden deep in the fastnesses of the Amazon Jungle. Nova Roma was first established by Roman refugees who feared the rise of imperial rule in Rome and wished to remain a Republic. The Roman settlers later assimilated Incan refugees, fleeing the collapse of their empire under pressure from Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors. What formed was a new society, a blending of Incan and Roman ways, preserving cultures vanished from every other part of the globe.

It’s unclear whether or not Selene had lived in ancient Rome, and helped found Nova Roma, or whether she came with the Incans — there are conflicting statements that indicate both. Either way, Selene lived in Nova Roma for centuries, perhaps as long as two thousand years. Here her Cult of Fire flourished. While she appeared to be a respectable member of Nova Roman society, in secret she was the Black Priestess, worshipped as a goddess, practicing unspeakable rites of human sacrifice. Victims were usually maidens on the brink of adulthood. They were kidnapped and thrown into a pit of lava while Selene drained their lifeforce. Her modus operandi seems to have been to Control them just enough to make them submit while still leaving them conscious of what was happening. She took several cover identities over the years, and had some descendants living in Nova Roma — some of whom she sacrificed, including the mother of future New Mutant Amara Aquilla.

New Mutants, New World

In recent years, Selene married Nova Roman Senator and patrician Marcus Domitius Gallio. Together, they plotted to abolish the republican government of Nova Roma and replace it with an Incan style monarchy. As they plotted, Nova Roman patrols encountered a secret agent of the Hellfire Club along with Charles Xavier’s novice class of New Mutants. The group had been stranded in the midst of a failed expedition into the Amazon, and stumbled upon New Rome. For the first time, perhaps, Selene met other mutants like herself. She also became aware of just how far the modern world had advanced, with marvels far surpassing those of Nova Roma. She determined to make the New Mutants her disciples and servants as she set out to explore and eventually conquer the world. The New Mutants resisted, and Senator Gallio was killed fighting a duel with Amara Aquilla’s father. Sunspot hurled Selene into a lava pit bored deep into the earth by Amara, who would join the New Mutants as Magma. Selene’s powers allowed her to survive the fall into the lava pit, even when Sunspot collapsed it around her, temporarily ending the fight.

Selene has said she was exiled to Nova Roma, but it’s unclear whether some power forced her to remain there, or whether it was a willing exile. Certainly, she was able to leave Nova Roma after her battle with the New Mutants. She may simply have believed that Nova Roma was the height of civilization on Earth — not unreasonable, given the isolation of the city, the low technological and cultural level of the surrounding Amazon tribes, and Roman attitudes toward “barbarians”. Or Nova Roma may have simply seemed a good power base for her later ambitions. Whatever the truth is, she made her way to New York City not long after her battle with the New Mutants.

For a time she engaged in “sport”, mostly hunting and murdering unsuspecting humans. She learned about the modern world (apparently researching mutants, as she quickly learned the term homo superior) and enjoyed her freedom. She encountered Rachel Summers by chance, recognized her potential power, and decided she would make an even better disciple than the New Mutants. Selene killed Nicholas Damiano, a kind man who had befriended the girl, and nearly abducted Rachel. But Charles Xavier detected the battle and the intervention of Xavier and the X-Men forced Selene to flee.

The Black Queen

Deciding that she needed allies and a secure base of operations, with access to wealth, power, and information, she sought out Friedrich von Roehm. Von Roehm was a wealthy jeweler and a member of the Inner Circle of the Hellfire Club, but he was also the hereditary high priest of Selene’s cult. With Von Roehm’s patronage, Selene applied to enter the Inner Circle of the Club as its new Black Queen. From her first encounter with club Chairman Sebastian Shaw, the Black King, Selene made it clear that she intended to lead the Inner Circle in time, and the two almost immediately began maneuvering for advantage while maintaining a faade of geniality. As part of her campaign, Selene presented Shaw with a “gift” — two mind-controlled mutants with considerable power. The two mutants, of course, were Amara Aquilla and Rachel Summers. While shopping in Manhattan, they’d encountered Selene, again by chance, and trailed her to the Club. But Selene was aware of them, ambushed them, and took control of them. Rachel managed to free herself from Selene’s Control, though, and helped Magma do the same. Their battle with Selene again brought the X-Men to the rescue.

At about the same time that Selene joined the Hellfire Club, her old enemy Kulan Gath possessed a new body and cast his Master Spell over New York. This Master Spell effectively made him Sorcerer Supreme of Manhattan and turned nearly everyone within it into his servants. Objects, buildings, and vehicles were transformed into ancient equivalents. Selene, though, proved immune to the spell, perhaps because she had lived in the Hyborian Age and didn’t need to be converted into an ancient equivalent. Even as Doctor Strange and Charles Xavier fell before Kulan Gath’s power, Selene led the fight against him. Hiding her presence from Gath, she again took control of Magma and Rachel Summers, then befriended and manipulated the X-Men and the Avengers. As they fought Kulan Gath on her behalf, almost all the heroes and most of Gath’s ensorcelled servants were killed. Selene then managed to destroy Gath’s host body and capture his Amulet, intending to use it to take control of the Master Spell and expand it over the entire planet. A surprise attack infected her with the Technarch Transmode Virus, killing her. With Gath no longer controlling the Master Spell, Dr. Strange and Magik were able to combine their magical and mutant abilities to alter time and erase the entire series of events. Most of those who experienced these events, including Selene, forgot them due to the time manipulation.

Phoenix Rising

For some time Selene’s attentions were mostly occupied with the covert power struggle to overthrow Shaw and take his place as head of the Hellfire Club. She also clashed again with Rachel Summers, who had begun calling herself Phoenix. While Rachel was feeling alienated and abandoned by the X-Men, she found herself remembering the man who had helped her the last time she felt alone. She was unable to remember his name, but she remembered the psychic vampire who had killed him. Rachel broke into the Hellfire Club and attacked Selene as she slept, seeking justice and revenge. Rachel was enraged when she discovered that Selene remembered the man’s name, Nicholas Damiano. Getting Selene at her mercy, Rachel was prevented from killing her by Wolverine. Determined to stop Rachel from murdering in the name of justice, he used his claws on the girl, inflicting a potentially fatal wound. Rachel fled, Wolverine escaped in the confusion, and Selene survived.

Drained by the battle, the now ancient-looking Selene went into Central Park and stole the lifeforce from a mugger and his victim, killing them and restoring herself. She then summoned her fellows Lords Cardinal, at least the Black Court. Black King Sebastian Shaw, his leman Tessa, Black Bishop Harry Leland, and Black Rook Friedrich von Roehm gathered at the Hellfire Club. Selene presented Rachel as a clear danger to all of the Inner Circle, and despite some squabbling between Shaw and Selene, the Lords Cardinal agreed to track Rachel down. Shaw insisted they take her alive, if possible, as a potential asset if she could be turned. The gloating Selene agreed, as this fit in with her plans. Selene revealed von Roehm’s hereditary mutation, a specific form of lycanthropy activated by a psychic interface with Selene. The transformed von Roehm led them to Rachel just as the X-Men arrived. As the two groups clashed over her, Rachel herself fled again. In the midst of the battle, the advanced mutant-hunting Sentinel Nimrod arrived and declared that they would all be terminated.

Selene found to her shock that her control of the inanimate had no effect on the robot. (Nimrod controlled its own systems down to the molecular level, so he may have been able to override her control. It may also be because “he” was in some sense alive.) Forced to ally with the X-Men just to survive, they managed to drive Nimrod off, but not before von Roehm and Leland were killed.

The Circle Cannot Hold

Left in some disarray, Shaw and Selene summoned the White Queen, Emma Frost. The remaining three members of the Inner Circle then contacted the X-Men again, specifically reaching out to Magneto, who was now teaching the New Mutants. The Lords Cardinal proposed to continue the alliance of convenience with the X-Men, and offered Magneto a place among them as White King. Conscious of the growing threat to all mutants, Magneto and Storm decided to accept the post of White King jointly, and the X-Men and Hellfire Club became temporary allies.

Selene later fought the Red Skull’s Skeleton Crew when they invaded the Hellfire Club looking for the Red Skull, who’d been kidnapped by Magneto. Captain America and Diamondback were drawn into the fight as well, most of which occurred in the sewers underneath the Club. The battle ended inconclusively. The Skeleton Crew bugged out after determining that the Skull was not being held in the Club, and Selene collapsed the sewer tunnel to drive Captain America away, not wanting an Avenger so close to finding out Hellfire Club secrets.

Despite the stated need for unity, the internecine power struggles between Selene, Shaw, and other members and former members of the Inner Circle eventually greatly weakened the Club. Much of its power and influence were dissipated. The Club thought Selene preoccupied with managing her “holdings” in Nova Roma, where Selene evidently retained some influence and was delivering some of the mineral wealth of the region to the Hellfire Club. But Selene was also finding new protgs, tools she intended to use to eliminate the current Lords Cardinal, replacing them with members loyal to her. But these Upstarts turned on Selene as well, and she was captured and held prisoner for months by the Gamesmaster. Several former and current Inner Circle members were believed killed, and though most have since returned, for a time the Lords Cardinal simply collapsed.

Description

Selene is a beautifully evil woman, tall, dark-haired, and voluptuous. She is a master manipulator, by turns seductive or intimidating. She projects an image of smug superiority and self-confidence in almost any situation.

Personality

Selene is evil to the core, a serial murderess thousands of times over who feels no guilt whatsoever over the lives she takes. The process of draining lifeforce from others fills her with ecstasy. Indeed, she is a predator and humanity is her rightful prey. A vain creature, she truly believes her own hype. She feels that she is a goddess, apart from and superior to regular humans. Delighting in malice and exulting in her vast powers, she believes that domination of the planet is her ultimate destiny. Humans should be honored to worship her, and are meant to serve her in life or death, as she chooses.

Though not necessarily gratuitously cruel, the Black Queen feels little loyalty to those who serve her. In her first battle with Magma, for example, Selene used so much power that she became an ancient crone. Without hesitation or regret, almost without thought, she slaughtered a dozen of her cultists to restore her youth.

There are two possible chinks in her armor of arrogance. Her greatest fear has been exposed by Danielle Moonstar — the thought of her own true death. She also shows a repeated desire to find a peer, or peers, who can become her disciples and heirs. That may indicate some loneliness and a desire for the company of others like herself. If so, it’s the only indication. In every other way, she seems to love her power and her lifestyle.

Selene is extremely confident, often calling her foes fools and proudly proclaiming her vast experience and skill. The many quotes should give you the right idea. Her confidence is mostly earned, with just a bit too much arrogance for her own good. On the one hand, she’s experienced with her powers and adept at battling several foes at once (if not to the same degree as Magneto). And she knows to hide, retreat, or seek alliances as necessary, frequently manipulating others to get what she wants. But her delight in her own cleverness and her contempt for others occasionally gets the best of her.

The Kulan Gath storyline is a good example. Selene hid herself magically while gathering a band of heroes from the X-Men and Avengers and sending them to oppose Gath. She then switched places with Magma, so that when Gath thought he’d captured her and made her helpless, he’d only captured Magma. This left Magma in place at Kulan Gath’s side, supposedly helpless but awaiting Selene’s mental command. When most of the heroes and Gath’s forces were dead, Selene had Magma create a volcano under Gath’s feet, slaying him as well. She revealed herself just a little too early, though, and was taken out by a player she’d not anticipated. Likewise, she showed her manipulative skills in gathering the group that would become the Upstarts. Though Shaw and Frost were suspicious of her from the start, she managed to find and gather the Upstarts in secret, under the collective nose of the Inner Circle. But again she miscalculated, arrogantly overlooking the possibility that her pawns would turn on her.

Overall, though, she remains extremely dangerous. She’s a schemer who can also be a front-line fighter. She’s a patient manipulator (confident in her Invulnerability and immortality) who knows she’ll win in the end, but on occasion can take grand risks. These risks can blow up in her face, or pay off in a big way. While the internal struggle within the Hellfire Club has occupied her energies in recent years, she retains her more ambitious goals. Ultimately her intent is to rule the planet, and perhaps the entire dimension. This may be a grandiose and unlikely goal, but she’s come close to succeeding at least once.

DC Universe History

Sure, why not? Nothing really original comes to mind, but you could replace her old enmity for Kulan Gath with Circe. Both are immortal sorceresses with possible connections to the Titans and to a moon goddess, so some mutual hatred and jealousy seems likely. This would of course bring Selene into conflict with Wonder Woman at some point. Her History might also go back to pre-Cataclysmic Atlantis, in which case the rivalry would be with Garn Daanuth, and of course Arion. During the period where Power Girl believed she was Atlantean, she and Selene may have fought. I can also see Selene clashing with Peter David’s Supergirl.

She’d undoubtedly have crossed paths with various other immortals. Vandal Savage, Brother Blood, and R’as Al Ghul are all possible, depending on how long she was in Nova Roma. If she was in Nova Roma, that is. If you do include Nova Roma and Magma, but don’t want to incorporate all of the X-folks, then it was likely the Titans or the Outsiders who first encounter Nova Roma. Selene would be interested in Looker or Raven as potential disciples.

A weird but interesting possibility that allows us to keep the chess motif of “the Black Queen” would have her involved with Maxwell Lord and Checkmate, rather than the Hellfire Club.

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