Nightshade (Marvel Comics)

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First appearance of Nightshade
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceCaptain America #164 (August 1973)
Created bySteve Englehart
Alan Lee Weiss
In-story information
Alter egoTilda Johnson
Team affiliationsMODOK's 11
Occupy Avengers
PartnershipsYellow Claw
Notable aliasesDeadly Nightshade,[1] Doctor Nightshade,[2] Queen of the Werewolves
  • Extraordinary genius
  • Wears protective battle armor, including silver spikes
  • Array of advanced weaponry and humanoid robots
  • Use of concentrated pheromones to control men through her allure and a chemical serum that turns humans into werewolves
  • Chemical pheromones in her body allows her to affect the will of certain animals, including werewolves

Nightshade (Tilda Johnson), formerly known as Dr. Nightshade and Deadly Nightshade, is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics.

Gabrielle Dennis portrayed the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe series Luke Cage in the second season. In this version, she is the daughter of Mariah Stokes.

Publication history[edit]

Nightshade first appeared in Captain America #164 (August 1973), created by Steve Englehart and Alan Lee Weiss.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Tilda Johnson was born into poverty in New York City. At an early age, she discovered that she had a natural aptitude for science. As a teenager, she used her extensive knowledge to begin a career as a criminal scientist. The Yellow Claw helped her develop a method for turning normal humans into obedient werewolf-like creatures, and attempted to transform convicts into a werewolf army, but the pair were defeated by Captain America and S.H.I.E.L.D.[3] She later took control of a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, and used pheromones to force Captain America to battle the Falcon, but was defeated.[4] She clashes with Power Man and Iron Fist on several occasions.[5][6][7]

Nightshade later appeared as second-in-command of Superia's Femizons. She helps develop a serum to transform men into women which she uses on Captain America and Paladin. She also helped Superia develop her sterilization bomb.[8]

She was also involved in a scheme with Dredmund Druid, though as a double agent for Superia. She used a serum to transform Captain America and the ordinary people of Starkesboro, Massachusetts into pseudo-werewolves.[9]

Nightshade joined MODOK's 11, with the main objective of stealing the powerful Hypernova. It has been revealed after her last battle against the Black Panther, she tried to start her life over without crime. However, as she was self-taught and had no official degrees, the only medical job she could get was as a receptionist at a hospital. After she pointed out a mistake by one of the doctors, she was fired immediately and contemplated suicide, until MODOK contacted her and hired her for the heist. She had "used up all [her] second chances" and could not afford to turn MODOK down.[10] She developed a friendship with her teammates Armadillo and Puma, and showed this strongly when backing up Puma in saving the Living Laser's life (and secretly giving him his Puma powers back through her "werewolf serum"). The three of them were the only villains to remain loyal to MODOK and get their cash (with a bonus); they appear to be sticking together, and she has offered to help Puma with his legal defense.[11]

During the Shadowland storyline, Nightshade organized Flashmob, a group of former Luke Cage enemies, in order to take on the new Power Man, Victor Alvarez. Although Flashmob was defeated and incarcerated at Ryker's Island, Nightshade's lawyer Big Ben Donovan mentions that he has plans to have them released from Ryker's Island. Donovan was able to secure the release of some of the members, but others had to remain incarcerated due to the warrants and/or parole violations.[12]

During the Spider-Island storyline, Nightshade is among the villains that have been infected by the bedbugs that bestowed spider powers on her. She alongside Cottonmouth and Flashmob ended up fighting Heroes for Hire.[13]

A reformed Nightshade later allies with the Nighthawk of Earth-31916, helping him defend Chicago from a group of white nationalists called the True Patriots, and the Revelator.[14] Sometime later, they help Hawkeye and Red Wolf after they find barrels of epidurium, a synthetic skin used to build Life-Model Decoys, on a truck that was hijacked. They go to an abandoned coal factory where they end up being attacked by armed soldiers led by Nick Fury. It's later revealed, that Nick Fury, as well as Dum Dum Dugan, Gabe Jones and the other agents, are Life-Model Decoys due to their outdated knowledge and technology. They later thwart an attack by gunmen attempting to rob the base. After defeating the gunmen, Nightshade decides to join Hawkeye and Red Wolf, saying her goodbyes to Nighthawk.[15]

Sometime later, the group stops at Dungston, Iowa when their van breaks down. Hawkeye calls Wheels Wolinski to help fix the van until it is revealed that some of the residents are Skrulls, who are being hunted down by mysterious men. While Hawkeye, Red Wolf and Nightshade are fighting, Wolinski discovers that the van has an A.I. system, who convinces him to help in the fight. It is later revealed that the attackers are also Skrulls, led by Super-Skrull. Wolinski then manages to turn the van into a big robot and defeats Super-Skrull. Hawkeye then negotiates with Nick Fury Jr. to provide protection for the town's residents.[16]

During the Secret Empire storyline, while Hawkeye joins the Underground resistance following Hydra's takeover in the United States, the rest of the team gather their own resistance army to help the people in rural areas that are being affected by Hydra's cruel treatment. Tilda also reveals that she became the new Nighthawk, after the former was killed by Hydra soldiers. After several successful victories, the resistance heads to a secret base in South Dakota and prepares for their next attack until Hydra forces raid the base. During the battle, Red Wolf and Tilda have a private conversation, in which both confess their feelings for each other, and they share a kiss. They then head out to help the resistance defeat Hydra.[17]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Tilda Johnson is an extraordinary genius, and extensively self-taught in genetics, biochemistry, cybernetics, robotics and physics. She also obtained a doctoral degree from an undisclosed university while in prison.

Nightshade sometimes wears protective battle armor, including silver spikes for protection from attack by werewolves. She has created an array of advanced weaponry, and has built numbers of humanoid robots. She created a chemical serum to transform normal humans into werewolves under her control and has used concentrated pheromones to control men through her allure.

Nightshade apparently secretes chemical pheromones from her body that affect the will of certain animals, including werewolves, making them obedient to her commands.

Other characters named Nightshade[edit]

Netherworld Nightshade[edit]

The man also known as Nightshade is from the Netherworld and the twin brother of Wolfsbane. He wielded Excalibre but his sword was shattered by the Black Knight. He could transform into a giant raven and used the enchanted sword Nightbringer.[18]

Nightshade 2099[edit]

In the alternate future set in 2099 A.D., Nightshade 2099 is a research organization rivaling Alchemax. Members included Angela Daskalakis, Miss Pivot, and Travesty.[19] All its members were killed.[20]

In other media[edit]


  • Tilda Johnson appears in Luke Cage, portrayed by Gabrielle Dennis.[21] She is the estranged daughter of Mariah Dillard, and her birth name is Matilda Maybelline Dillard. A product of Mariah's constant rapes by her great-uncle "Pistol Pete" Stokes, Mariah gave birth to Tilda after her grandmother "Mama" Mabel Stokes would not allow her to have an abortion. For all of her childhood and early adult life, Tilda believed her father was Mariah's late husband Dr. Jackson Dillard, and she was raised by Mariah's cousins, the Johnsons (explaining her different surname). The circumstances of Tilda's conception led Mariah having a strained relationship with her over the years. Of the other Stokes family members, Tilda was closest with Cottonmouth.[22] At the start of season two, Tilda works as a holistic doctor. Mariah, at the suggestion of her publicist, tries to reconnect with Tilda and an effort to use her for publicity, to which she begrudgingly agrees to. Tilda does not call herself "Nightshade", with the name being alluded to instead as an herb that is the key ingredient in the recipe that gives Bushmaster his healing powers.[23] Initially forced by one of Bushmaster's minions to help save him, she begins giving him more of it and covers for him once detective Misty Knight and the police begin looking for him. While under police protection following an attack by Bushmaster, Mariah later tells Tilda the truth about her father, her crimes, and killing Cottonmouth.[22] Tilda's disgust with Mariah reaches its boiling point when she massacres a restaurant of innocent people in an effort to lure Bushmaster out of hiding.[24] This leads to Tilda disowning Mariah and eventually, fatally poisoning her in jail. After she kills Mariah, Tilda assumes everything in her mother's will would be left to her, but Mariah leaves Harlem's Paradise to Luke, and only leaving Cottonmouth's keyboard to Tilda, much to her anger. In the last episode of season 2, she is seen donning the character's signature afro puffs from the comic books, while entering a post-Stokes/Dillard Harlem's Paradise with Luke in the office that Cornell and Mariah once ran their syndicate from.[25]


  1. ^ Captain America #164
  2. ^ Captain America #403
  3. ^ Captain America and the Falcon #164
  4. ^ Captain America and the Falcon #189-190
  5. ^ Power Man and Iron Fist #51-53
  6. ^ Power Man and Iron Fist #110
  7. ^ Marvel Team-Up Annual #3
  8. ^ Captain America #389-391
  9. ^ Captain America #403-408
  10. ^ MODOK's 11 #3
  11. ^ MODOK's 11 #5
  12. ^ Shadowland: Power Man #2
  13. ^ Spider-Island: Heroes for Hire #1
  14. ^ David Walker (w), Ramon Villalobos (p), Ramon Villalobos (i), Tamra Bonvillain (col), VC's Joe Caramagna (let), Katie Kubert (ed). Nighthawk v2, #1 (25 May 2016), United States: Marvel Comics
  15. ^ Occupy Avengers #3-4
  16. ^ Occupy Avengers #5-7
  17. ^ Occupy Avengers #8-9
  18. ^ Hulk Comic (UK) #23
  19. ^ Spider-Man 2099 #26
  20. ^ Spider-Man 2099 #29
  21. ^ Strom, Marc (July 5, 2017). "Mustafa Shakir & Gabrielle Dennis Join Netflix Original Series 'Marvel's Luke Cage'". Marvel. Archived from the original on July 5, 2017. Retrieved July 5, 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  22. ^ a b Johnson, Clark (director); Matt Owens & Ian Stokes (writer) (June 22, 2018). "For Pete's Sake". Marvel's Luke Cage. Season 2. Episode 9. Netflix.
  23. ^ Green, Steph (director); Akela Cooper (writer) (June 22, 2018). "Straighten It Out". Marvel's Luke Cage. Season 2. Episode 2. Netflix.
  24. ^ Goddard, Andy (director); Akela Cooper (writer) (June 22, 2018). "The Main Ingredient". Marvel's Luke Cage. Season 2. Episode 10. Netflix.
  25. ^ Lopez, Alex Garcia (director); Cheo Hodari Coker (writer) (June 22, 2018). "They Reminisce Over You". Marvel's Luke Cage. Season 2. Episode 13. Netflix.