Shinobi Shaw (Marvel Comics) in a nice suit

Shinobi Shaw

“Just as I thought. A boy playing a man’s game.”
  • Ororo Munroe.

  • Context

    Shinobi Shaw is an enemy of the X-Men. He mostly appeared during the 1990s, as part of the minor Upstarts subplot. He ran the Hellfire Club and Shaw Industries for several years, but with little impact.

    Shinobi is just plain hilarious to me. He has proven capable of such delightful behaviour as:

    • Super-heroes busting in on him when he’s in the bath not once but TWICE.
    • Trying to negotiate a deal with a crime lord while mostly naked and so drunk he could barely stand.
    • Being so lazy that even the other Upstarts ragged on him for it.
    • Thinking that drugging Storm and then telling her about it right after was going to be at all a good idea for getting her on his side.

    I crack up at almost every appearance he makes because he’s so ridiculous and neither he nor the writers seem aware of it. It’s made him a special favorite of mine.



    • Real Name: Shinobi Shaw.
    • Other Aliases: Black King of the Hellfire Club.
    • Marital Status: Single.
    • Known Relatives: Sebastian Hiram Shaw (father), unnamed mother, Jacob Shaw (grandfather, deceased), Esau Shaw (paternal grand-uncle, deceased), Cornelius Shaw (paternal great-grandfather; deceased), Elizabeth Shaw-Worthington, Hiram, Sarah and Obadiah Shaw (various ancestors, deceased).
    • Group Affiliation: Hellfire Club.
    • Base of Operations: Various.
    • Height: 5’11” Weight: 165 lbs.
    • Eyes: Blue (usually) Hair: Black

    Powers & Abilities

    Shinobi is a mutant with the ability to alter the density of his body. He can become either as intangible as a ghost (enabling him to phase  through walls, people, etc.) or as hard and solid as diamond (enabling him to, say, take a crowbar to the chin, according to him).

    A favored battle tactic of his is to phase his hand into the chest of an enemy and make his hand solid enough to grab their heart. This appears to have no adverse effect on Shinobi himself, such as his hand ending up merged with his enemy or anything like that.


    On the other hand he’s either phased or not. He can’t partially phase. This has been his undoing numerous times.

    He can phase through something as dense as Archangel’s wings, and his super-dense state offers even better protection against physical assaults. One assumes that he’s essentially immobile in said super-dense state, though.

    Other assets

    Shinobi Shaw is lackadaisical. Still :

    • He seems to have some sort of financial skills, particularly when it comes to researching confidential information.
    • He’s a good liar and can act a bit. He’s occasionally got good repartee and wit, too.
    • He’s fluent in Japanese.
    • He sometimes comes up with good strategies.
    • He can be remarkably persuasive and well-spoken when preying on ordinary people, and generally talks a good game.

    Early on he was useless in a crisis situation, not even thinking to use his powers unless he had rehearsed. He improved later on and could “dodge” attacks by phasing, but he clearly lacks initiative and experience in superhuman combat.

    Shinobi Shaw (Marvel Comics) drinking in bath interrupted

    On the other hand, Shaw Industries has immense resources. These includes dozens of Sentinel robots, and elite mercenaries with high-tech equipment (including cutting edge mutant powers dampeners and advanced explosives). Shaw also has privileged access to the Hellfire Club, which is where some of his financial scoops may come from.

    Furthermore, Shinobi Shaw was the Black King of the Hellfire Club for several years. The Club also has formidable means, including well-armed mercenaries. Some agents, such as the Ebon Knights of the Black King, have gear essentially giving them superhuman powers.


    Early Life

    Shinobi Shaw was the illegitimate son of Sebastian Shaw (or at least, possibly—see Additional Notes section). His mother was never given an on-panel name but appears to have been of Japanese heritage. Sebastian did not live with Shinobi and his mother, but he did visit during Shinobi’s childhood.

    Sebastian found Shinobi to be “weak” and “not good enough” to be his heir. He showed his contempt for his son by beating and berating him, telling him he’d never amount to anything.

    Conversely, Shinobi was “safe” and “protected from harm” by his mother. Because Shinobi “could do no wrong by one, no right by the other” his sense of morality became confused: “So what is right or wrong then? When you don’t understand the difference between them, there is no difference between them!”

    According to Shinobi, his mother also “suffered” by Sebastian’s hands in some way, though it is never specified how.

    Sebastian sometimes brought Shinobi to the Hellfire Club, where he met Warren Worthington III (the future Archangel of the X-Men), who was then a boy of similar age. Shinobi frequently “tagged along behind” Warren. Though they only saw each other “every couple of years” Shinobi confessed to Warren that his father was abusing him.

    It is unknown what Warren did or said in response, if anything. As for Sebastian, he saw Warren as a much worthier heir than in his own son, and “never failed to tell me that” according to Shinobi. Though Warren claims that Shinobi “hated the place” Shinobi was nonetheless always very curious about the basement of the Hellfire Club and believed that “since he could find it nowhere else in his life, the key to happiness had to be down there.”


    At some point between his childhood and young adulthood, Sebastian exited completely out of Shinobi’s life. It is unknown what transpired in Shinobi’s life during this period, aside from that his latent mutant abilities surfaced and he joined the Upstarts, a group of rich and bored young mutants who competed with one another to score “points” for murdering powerful targets.

    Shinobi’s first target as an Upstart was his father. Before killing Sebastian, he first bought out all of Shaw Industries, and then, when he ambushed Sebastian in his Swiss chalet, bragged about it. He then revealed that he too was a mutant by phasing his hand into Sebastian’s chest and inducing a massive coronary seizure. Sebastian told Shinobi he’d kill him for this, but Shinobi responded that he rather doubted that.

    Shinobi Shaw (Marvel Comics) with decadent entourage and Fitzroy

    The chalet then exploded, presumably having been wired with bombs by Shinobi, who survived the blast using his power.

    (The takeover occurred when Sebastian Shaw was particularly distracted, through unrevealed means. Presumably Shinobi Shaw used a mix of privileged inside information and hired expert corporate raiders.)

    Young blood

    The apparent murder of his father put Shinobi in first place of the Upstarts. However, he did very little in the competition after that, apparently preferring to relax in luxury. The Gamemaster and even his fellow Upstarts frequently remarked on his laziness, while Shinobi seemed disinterested in little more than bragging at meetings.

    He seemed to treat the competition as a game, stating that it was for fun and even offering the aid of his Sentinels to rival Upstart Trevor Fitzroy. This resulted in a spat between them that ended with Fitzroy cutting Shinobi’s finger off (though it was re-attached) and Shinobi blowing up Fitzroy’s Arctic base after pulling him from battle with the X-Men so he couldn’t win any points by killing them.

    When Shinobi did act, it was always indirectly. For instance, he (drunkenly and naked but for a bathrobe) bargained with the crime lord Nyorin to have his assassin Kwannon kill the X-Men for him. Nyorin agreed but did not hold up his end of the bargain.

    It may have been during this era that Shinobi, using the resources of Shaw Industry, secured the services of the Japanese super-hero Otomo. Otomo was kept on a leash by the government using a drug that kept him alive, but Shaw scientists managed to replicate it. Otomo became a Shaw employee.


    During the Upstarts’ “Younghunt” (which awarded points for the kidnapping of X-Force and New Warriors members) Shinobi convinced Justice, of the New Warriors, to kidnap Firestar. Firestar was Justice’s girlfriend and fellow New Warrior, but Shinobi convinced Justice that she would be safer in his hands than she would with any other Upstart who might capture her. Justice agreed (secretly planning to double-cross Shinobi) and delivered Firestar.

    Shinobi formed a scheme during the Younghunt to kill Gamemaster and the other Upstarts in order to take the competition prize for himself. Unbeknownst to him, Gamemaster was aware of that, as his ESP was far stronger than the telepathy countermeasure Shaw had installed in his offices.

    Shinobi Shaw (Marvel Comics) and Dwayne Taylor

    However, Shinobi never even tried to carry out this scheme. When X-Force teleported into his chalet they threatened him for information about the Upstarts. As soon as they left, he decided he was done with the Upstarts, proclaiming that he was bored with the game.

    In addition to the Upstarts and Hellfire Club, Shinobi was also shown to be involved with organized crime. During his aforementioned activities with the Upstarts, he met with the Jigoku cartel at one point, a Japanese mob organization.

    He also fed false information to S.H.I.E.L.D. on behalf of the Mandarin. Shinobi succeeded in having S.H.I.E.L.D. destroy an Hydra opium and coca farm that was cutting in the Mandarin’s business, in return for a small percentage. Perhaps his allegation about genetically-engineered giant poppies were too ludicrous to seem to be lies.

    Hellfire Club – Worthington

    Killing his father had not only made Shinobi the (temporary) frontrunner in the Upstarts game, but also the new Black King of the Hellfire Club’s Inner Circle. Once he quit the former, he began to concentrate more on the latter. His main activities, at least as far as shown, seems to be the recruitment of X-Men into his Inner Circle.

    He started with Warren Worthington III aka Archangel as his White King, since he still remembered their “friendship” from childhood and how his father had seen great potential in the other boy. He sent Archangel an invitation to the Hellfire Club annual gala in New York. Since Psylocke, like Archangel, had a family membership in the Club, she tagged along with Warren to the event.

    Tessa telepathically knocked them out, and they awoke in the basement of the Hellfire Club with Shinobi. He made his proposal to Warren, but Archangel refused, shocked at Shinobi for following in the footsteps of the man who abused him. A fight ensued between the pair, during which Archangel criticized Shinobi further, and Shinobi was reduced to screaming about his own insecurities.

    When he and Archangel had reached a stalemate in their fight, Psylocke struck, sneaking up behind Shinobi and plunging her psychic knife into his head. This caused him to relive his memories of abuse from Sebastian’s hands. This brought Shinobi to his knees, and the X-Men left him in the basement.

    Hellfire Club – Munroe

    Shinobi’s next recruitment attempt was Storm of the X-Men. By this time, he had arranged an Inner Circle of his own—Benedict Kine the White King, Benazir Kaur the White Queen, and Reeva Payge the Black Queen–as well as allied himself with the immortal mutant Candra.

    He sent a bouquet to Storm, along with an invitation to meet him at his home. She accepted, not knowing that Shinobi had laced the flowers and her meal with him with drugs that lowered her inhibitions, making her more susceptible to her darker nature and base desires.

    Shinobi Shaw (Marvel Comics) painted art with courtesans

    Shinobi claimed to have become a new man since his fight with Psylocke and Archangel. He told Storm that he wanted to use the resources of the Hellfire Club to help mutants and humans, and he said that he wanted her help. Storm told him that she would think on it, and left. When she returned, however, Shinobi revealed his true colors.

    Repulsed, Storm rejected his offer, and he attempted once more to drug her, this time forcibly. She fought back against him, while Bishop and Gambit arrived to battle his Inner Circle. After his Inner Circle was dispatched by her teammates, Storm won by putting Shinobi in a position where if he killed her, he would also kill himself by electrocution. Shinobi gave up, and the X-men once again left him in defeat.

    Later ventures

    Shinobi had a few minor appearances after this. Cordelia Frost tried to barter her way into Hellfire Club membership for herself by offering him the mutant omnimorph known as Mondo. However, when agents appeared to kidnap Mondo on behalf of a man that Shinobi called “Barrington” (he was in fact the supervillain Black Tom Cassidy), Shinobi allowed it without protest, apparently too disinterested to bother.

    Shinobi knew that something was amiss within the London Branch of the Hellfire Club involving the mutant criminal Mountjoy, but he was unable to get any further information from his operatives there. Instead, he turned to the superhero Captain Britain, who agreed to investigate for him in the name of stopping Mountjoy.

    Finally, he and Benedict Kine had a conflict over how to handle J. Jonah Jameson, who was running a smear campaign against the Hellfire Club, and this escalated into the two of them battling for leadership of the Hellfire Club. This battle took the form of Benedict’s agents trying to kill Jameson while Shinobi’s attempted to save him. It eventually involved not only Spider-Man, but also the X-Men, who had been called by Tessa.

    Sebastian Shaw returns

    Having heard rumors that his father was in fact alive and had returned, Shinobi, afraid for his life, began to fund the development of a machine that would strip mutants of their powers by deactivating their X-gene. He planned to use this on his father in self-defense, and noted that it would also have the added bonus of putting him ahead in the mutant/human conflict.

    Shinobi Shaw (Marvel Comics) grinning face closeup plus armoured demolitionist

    Through unknown circumstances, Nga and Leong Coy Manh, the younger twin siblings of the New Mutant known as Karma, came to be in his possession as test subjects for the device. As a result X-Force broke into his laboratory base to rescue them. Conflict naturally ensued, during which Shinobi asked Sunspot to join him, but, unlike with Storm and Archangel, didn’t push the issue when he refused.

    Shinobi and his guards were defeated and the machine was destroyed, but the twins were not rescued; during the mayhem, Spiral appeared, the dimension-dancing six-armed agent of the alien Mojo. She spirited the children away, and Shinobi escaped the base by phasing as Boomer blew it up.


    Whatever he did after that is unknown; general fan opinion is that he went into hiding. It is known that he was alive after M-Day, as he was listed as one of the mutants that still retained his powers after the event. However, it was found out during the Necrosha event that he had died since.

    Shinobi was among the dead mutants raised by Selene. When she sent him to the prisoners brig on Utopia to kill Sebastian, his father stated that he had been the one to kill Shinobi. Shinobi failed in his task to kill his father, and he has not been seen since.

    It is unknown if he was one of the souls that Selene consumed for her ascension. But even if he was not, it is still unlikely that he is alive, since Destiny (another resurrected mutant) stated that with Selene now dead, Selene’s mystically-altered transmode virus was wearing off and Destiny would soon return to being dead.

    It is likely this holds true for all mutants that Selene revived. However, this being Marvel, there’s always the possibility that this isn’t the case and he’s still out there, especially since Selene too has returned from death recently…

    Additional Notes

    While he was killing Sebastian, Shinobi said, “Do you think that since my powers are so much more like my “Uncle Leland’s” that you’re not my reeeal daddy?” It is unknown if Shinobi really doubts Sebastian’s paternity or if he was just trying to taunt him in his dying moments.

    It is also unknown if he has any reason to think that Harry Leland (Black Bishop of Sebastian Shaw’s Inner Circle) might have been involved with his mother.

    Shinobi is presumed illegitimate as all indications are that Sebastian Shaw was never married to his mother. However, he still has the Shaw surname, and it is never mentioned if he ever had another. It is possible that despite not being married to his mother, Sebastian still allowed Shinobi his surname on paper.

    Or it is possible that Shinobi took it on after killing Sebastian in order to make use of the clout it carries.

    Shinobi is implied to be bisexual.


    Shinobi Shaw is a hedonistic party boy who uses the enormous fortune he took from his father to enjoy the good life and then some. He is most often found in one of his two penthouses (one in Tokyo, one in New York), possibly relaxing in a jacuzzi with some champagne, and probably flanked by multitudes of scantily-clad “party guests”. Despite owning his father’s company, he is never seen attending to any business matters.

    As for his supervillainy, for him it is partly just a game for thrills and laughs, partly an attempt to emulate his more famous and successful father.

    Shinobi considers himself a criminal mastermind, but he does a lot of foolish things—trying to make a deal with the crime lord Nyorin while so drunk he can barely stand, telling Storm to her face about how he drugged her and still thinking she’d join him—and is clearly NOT the genius he thinks he is.  He also tends to be sassy and snarky to others, often making catty remarks and sly digs even when it’s unwise.

    He also seems to have a problem with alcohol abuse, as he is frequently shown drinking or drunk, which could affect his decisions. When things don’t go his way, he dissolves into childish tantrums, and he is especially sensitive and insecure about his father, his past, and his failings, all of which can be used by an opponent.  Neither his allies nor his enemies show him much respect, and it is easy to see why both frequently compare him to a child.

    Fear and hatred

    He is selfish and self-centered, there is no indication that he cares for anyone else besides himself and his mother, whom he desires to keep safe from his criminal activities. Shinobi has no loyalty to his allies and will betray or abandon them the moment it’s convenient.

    In addition to no sense of loyalty, honor, or camaraderie, he also has no sense of right and wrong due to his childhood abuse. He has a very pessimistic, survivalist outlook of the world, believing that all that matters is power and who has the most of it.

    He hates his father due to said abuse, and frequently bragged about killing him. He’s also extremely scared of him once he learns he’s still alive.

    Shinobi Shaw (Marvel Comics) phasing into a club while wearing a bowler hat

    Despite hating and fearing his father, Shinobi seems determined to follow in his footsteps, both as a worthy heir to his business and to his status as Black King. While he espoused views in line with both Xavier and Magneto when he was trying to sway Storm to his side, he has not done so since, nor has he done anything to indicate he believes either.

    However, he has done plenty to indicate that he cares only about himself and maintaining his own power base. The No Prize  solution is that Shinobi was just saying anything he could think of to convince Storm to join him and that in reality he, like his father and most of the Hellfire Club, doesn’t care about mutants either way so long as he comes out on top of the struggle.


    Shinobi manipulates people using their fears and desires, but just as often miscalculates because of his inability to see people’s positive traits.  For instance, he believed Storm’s darker qualities would make her more likely to ally with him. She admitted he was right, but pointed out that he didn’t predict for her good qualities and how they would affect her choices

    It seems he can only see the worst in people, so his perceptions are incomplete. He also has a poor understanding of people in other ways, as evident by his disastrous and bizarre attempts at recruitment. Most people would understand knocking other people out and changing their clothes doesn’t endear them to you, nor does drugging them and telling them that you did it to manipulate them.

    But he did this to the X-Men he was trying to recruit, then was surprised when they didn’t want to join him. This suggests problems relating to others, and possibly mental problems.

    As lazy as he is manipulative, Shinobi prefers to get others to do his work for him, either hired thugs and mercenaries or even super-heroes that he’s convinced into his service (such as Justice). In addition to laziness and keeping a low profile from authority figures, he may prefer that others do his dirty work because he lacks the combat skills to do it himself.

    He’s never so much as landed a punch during a fight, and his only battle strategy seems to be getting close enough to phase his hand into someone and induce a heart attack…and he actually hasn’t even had much success with that against his foes. In fact, his only successful kill was against one of his own minions in a “you have failed me for the last time” villain cliché moment.

    Overall, he’s not much of a threat, but his ineptitude can be very entertaining!


    “Oh, by the way, Pops, did I remember to tell you in my last letter that my latent mutant abilities have kicked in ? Kind of funky powers, actually… I can control my molecular density… yeah, can do all kinds of things with it: Peek into the girl’s shower room… take a crowbar to the chin… induce massive coronary seizures…”

    “The one person I always have…[is] me…”

    “Whatever I might have lacked as a child, I got now–and I’m willing to use it to bleed this planet dry of everything it has to offer !”

    “Oooh, my daddy hit me ! Oooh, I’m all insecure about myself ! Oooh, I’m a mutie, a freak of nature ! Well, SO WHAT ?! Those concerns are for lesser people than us, Warren ! I’m not some weak little child anymore ! All that matters in this world is who’s stronger–and I’m going to make sure that’s me !”

    Matsuo: “I thought for certain Tatsuo was dead when he manhandled you like that.”
    Shinobi: “Hmm. Did you ? No. Not my style.”
    Matsuo: “I never gave you much credit for having any style at all, Shinobi.”

    Shinobi (arguing with another Hellfire Club member): “That is my ruling and I am still the leader… and you are a fool !”
    Tessa (under her breath): “Said the pot to the kettle…”

    Trevor Fitzroy: “Trevor Fitzroy has Sentinels of his own !”
    Shinobi: “Mm. Smaller than mine.”

    Shinobi (drunkenly slurring): “Oh yesh, honorable Nyroin-san ! I believe we are in a poshishun to consummate a mutually beneficial business arrangement.”
    Nyorin: “You are barely in a position to balance yourself, young lord !”

    “Why is it that all you X-groups seem bent on breaking into my home every time I’m in the bath ?”

    “I may act like an idiot, but do I look like one ?”

    “A player’s true skill lies in a capacity for patience and sacrifice, the ability to lose a prized piece in the short term to achieve a long-term goal. A maxim for life if there ever was one.”

    “There was no need to drip motor oil over my very expensive satin sheets !”

    Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG

    Tell me more about the game stats

    Shinobi Shaw

    Dex: 02 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Power
    Int: 03 Wil: 04 Min: 03 Occupation: Conspirator, hedonist
    Inf: 03 Aur: 03 Spi: 03 Wealth: 020
    Init: 008 HP: 010

    Cell rot: 09, Density Increase: 10, Dispersal: 11, Kinetic Absorption: 06

    Bonuses and Limitations:

    • All Powers are Contingent Upon Dispersal.
    • Cell Rot cannot be used if Phasing or Density Increase are active.
    • Kinetic Absorption is Structural Damage Only and requires to have at least as many APs of Density Increase engaged.

    Artist (Actor): 04, Charisma (Persuasion): 04, Scientist (Research): 05

    Bonuses and Limitations:
    Scientist is limited to financial and business information.

    Credentials (Shaw Industries, High), Familiarity (Chess, Finance, Business), Gift of Gab, Headquarters (Expansive), Language (Japanese), Rank (Lieutenant).

    International finance (Low), Upstarts (Low at best), Hellfire Club (Low).

    MIA toward Alcohol, Uncertainty.

    TELEPATHIC PROOFING [BODY 03, Mind blank (Area of Effect (variable)): 08, Obscure (Area of Effect (variable)): 08, Limitation: Mind Blank and Obscure only vs. psionics]. This is high-tech telepathic proofing in some of his offices. It’s not as absolute as he thinks it is, though.

    Variant stats

    For his possible stats as a techno-revenant, see our Hellions team profile. In this state he failed to use most of his power against his father, probably for psychological reasons.

    Prior to taking over his father’s position, Shaw lacked Credentials, his Headquarters, his Rank, most Connections, his Equipment and probably an AP of WIL.

    Design Notes

    Cell Rot models his “phasing his hand into his enemy’s body” attack, since as noted it seems risk-free for him. It is also quite deadly, especially if it happens as a Blindside as it’s unexpected.

    Rank denotes the paramilitary forces and equipment he can command via Shaw Industries and/or the Hellfire Club.

    The Density Increase/Kinetic Absorption build is entirely based on the observation that he used this power rather than his Dispersal to endure the explosion he used to seemingly kill his father. It’s the only documented use of his ability to increase his density.

    Sébastien Andrivet (stats) and M. Mauney (everything else).

    Helper(s): Darci.

    Source of Character: Marvel comics.

    Writeup completed on the 19th of May, 2016.