That's why I have a certain level of respect for the Hellfire Club. They don't hide from this. Hell, they embrace it and they rarely do it fully clothed. For a long time, Emma Frost embodied this decadent, horny, don't-give-a-fuck spirit. Now that she's missing, thanks to the big fart cloud unleashed by the racist xenophobic slave-owners, there's room for a new order in the Hellfire Club. We've already seen hints of that order since Cullen Bunn began his run on Uncanny X-men. We finally get some insight into that order in Uncanny X-men #12. Sadly, this insight is very SFW, but it's still the Hellfire Club. It's safe to assume there's a gang-bang going on in between every panel.
Before they get to the gang-bangs though, we get a brief glimpse into how Magneto set things up before throwing in with a bunch of orgy-loving deviants. We venture to that magical period that Marvel used to fuck the X-men over worse than any bondage club ever could. During that period, Magneto seeks Psylocke out before he seeks help from the Hellfire Club. Considering she'd be more focused on helping mutants than trying on overpriced lingerie, it's probably smart.
They have a pretty meaningful conversation here. Psylocke is not all that enthusiastic about joining Magneto's new team. He does kind of have a history of turning into a selfish, murderous prick so she's right to be skeptical. Then again, this is a time when Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners get preferential treatment so maybe a selfish, murdering prick is just what they need. She seems to agree that there's really no way that they can't make this shit worse and sadly, she's probably right.
Psylocke agrees to join Magneto's team, as was kind of already spoiled in the first fucking issue of the series. Flash forward to this issue where Psylocke meets the new Hellfire Club for the first time and she's probably questioning how sober she was when she made that decision. She's about as happy about this revelation as someone who just found out they have a malignant tumor festering inside their asshole.
For their part, the new Inner Circle, of which Magneto is a part of, doesn't immediately try to tie Psylocke up and whip her into submission. That's the kind of shit Emma Frost does on a Sunday. Instead, they're remarkably cordial, offering wine and friendship with orgies just being a nice side-benefit. They may be asshole deviants, but at least they have manners. That goes a long ways for some people. Plus, Pyslocke is British. That should make her hesitate at least somewhat before resorting to stabbing them with a psionic blade.
She's still not all that happy with Magneto keeping these kinds of secrets from her. Then again, even she has to concede this isn't the worst secret he could've kept. It's not like he's been eating live puppies on the side or anything. Psylocke bitches and moans for a good long while as Magneto introduces this new Hellfire Club. Unlike the club's previous incarnation, it doesn't involve any per-pubescent kids. That alone is a big fucking upgrade.
Instead, we see a lot of familiar faces. It's not just Sebastian Shaw as the Black King that's familiar either. We have Black Tom Cassidy as the White King, a C-list X-men villain who hasn't had a chance at many orgies I imagine. We have Monet as the White Queen. Granted, she doesn't look as awesome as Emma Frost does in white lingerie, but then again very few people do. We even have Briar, who was one of the best parts of Cullen Bunn's Magneto solo series. If you don't know why her presence is awesome, then you need to read Magneto's latest solo series. It's so good I actually read it sober. That alone should tell you all you need to know.
It's a nice balance. The new club has some familiar deviants and a few new faces like Black Tom and Monet. That doesn't stop Psylocke from bitching and moaning even more, but even she has to admit there may be some benefits to teaming up with orgy-loving deviants. They aren't heroes, but they can get shit done and they can do it with or without their pants on.
They prove this first by offering Psylocke a new role as the Black Queen, a role that traditionally belongs to immortal mutant vampires with a knack for both giving and killing boners, among other things. Knowing she's inclined to bitch and moan even more, Briar offers her something more tangible in the form of a sample of brain matter. Why does this matter? Well, this is where Bunn shows that he puts more effort into his stories than most of us put into lattes.
It turns out this brain matter is from the Someday Corporation. Remember those assholes? In the first arc of this series, they offered mutants a chance to sleep through the latest shit storm caused by the Racist Xenophobic Slave Owners. Turns out desperate mutants don't read the fine print of the user agreement. They're the only organization that might actually have bigger assholes than the Hellfire Club and that goes a long ways with Psylocke. This still doesn't stop her from bitching and moaning to Magneto, but he still finds a way to make their conversation meaningful. It means that before she embraces wine and orgies, they have an actual mission.
We finally move away from wine, lingerie, and orgies and onto less kinky conflicts, relatively speaking. Knowing that the Someday Corporation is probably doing much worse than the Hellfire Club, minus the orgies, Psylocke and Magneto lead their team to a research station in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Because I guess if you have something to hide, you just have to do it on an ominous base in the middle of the ocean. Maybe there's something tactical to the Hellfire Club's use of orgies and parties.
Not surprisingly, they get attacked shortly after they arrive. It essentially confirms what Psylocke surmised from the Hellfire Club's little clue. Someday Corporation is up to more shit and they don't even give the courtesy of a good orgy. Even Psylocke has to admit that these assholes deserve stabbing more than anyone in the Hellfire Club.
A fight breaks out and Greg Land shows he can draw more than just sexy women in lingerie. This time, Someday doesn't just throw thugs with guns at them. Turns out those mutants they put in stasis really should've read the fine print after all. Now, they've been weaponized and turned into meat puppets. Because I guess nothing bad ever happened to anyone who tried to turn mutants into living weapons. I'm pretty sure Wolverine is rolling his eyes in his adamantium grave.
The action is quick, flashy, and intense. It's not rushed, but it's not overly epic either. Fighting mutants that were turned into living weapons doesn't happen as often as fighting killer robots, but it's still regular enough to seem inane at times. It's still entertaining. It also has some important details thrown into the mix, giving it the kind of refinement that sets it above a typical Street Fighter game.
Part of that refinement involves teasing the ongoing conflict between Monet and her brother, who is now inside her. No, I'm not talking about Game of Thrones style incest here. She merged with Emplate during the last arc and she's still struggling to control it. She still has the urge to feed on mutants the same way I feed on bacon. She doesn't fight that urge all that well. Then again, she's part of the Hellfire Club now. Fighting urges isn't their style.
There battle against the Someday Corporation is escalating quickly. That makes it a lousy time for another flashback, but it also gives the story a chance to gain further refinement. Once again, we go back to that magical 8-month gap where mutants got shafted by Fox's lawyers and the Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners who benefit as a result. Magneto just made his pitch to Psylocke. Now, he's looking for new allies. This leads him to the steps of the Hellfire Club.
This is where Briar Raleigh comes back into the picture. Again, her presence only helps Magneto and this series. She may be human, but she proved during Magneto's solo series that she can kick more ass than most and do it after having lost part of her leg. She can also do it while looking sexy as hell and that goes a long ways in a place like the Hellfire Club. Magneto knows this and needs her help. Plus, it never hurts to have someone who's sexy as hell on your side.
The introductions go about as well as they can hope. By that, I mean everybody keeps their pants on and nobody gets gagged, although I'm sure that's part of the negotiations. Along the way, Magneto makes an important point. At a time when Racist Xenophobic Slave-Owners are getting preferential treatment left and right, mutants can't be petty anymore. They can't be divided. As far as he's concerned, every mutant is an X-man now. They have to be if they're to survive and sadly, he's probably right.
So...is it awesome?
It's kinky, deceptive, and ethically questionable on all fronts. In other words, it's perfectly in line with who the Hellfire Club is and how they operate. Cullen Bunn did not turn them into a charity for botched breast implants or to teach bondage to former nuns. He makes them allies of the X-men while still maintaining the spirit of decadence, bondage, and excessive cleavage. That alone is an accomplishment that sets Uncanny X-men #12 apart.
As a story that just happens to have a bunch of kinky, bondage-loving sadists, there's plenty of intrigue. Granted, some of that intrigue gets lost by having Psylocke bitch and moan for a good chunk of the story. While she's well within her right to be skeptical about a team-up with the Hellfire Club, she overdoes it somewhat at times. It still leads to a well-developed plot that connects with previous arcs and even Bunn's previous Magneto series. Those kinds of cohesive connections go a long ways towards showing that he gives a damn about making Uncanny X-men #12 awesome. In an era where relaunches and reboots happen more often than annoying car insurance commercials, that means something.
Final Score: 7 out of 10