The world wants to grind Tilda “Nightshade” Johnson down, but she fights back by becoming an expert scientist—and a Super Villain.

After learning everything she could about genetics, cybernetics, and physics, Johnson learned to control most male-type beings and create compliant lycanthropes. And as her lust for recognition and power has grown, so has her ire for those who dare to stand in her way.

Child Prodigy

Growing up in Harlem, New York City, Tilda Johnson was determined to become a success in the larger world. Johnson had a genius mind, but her fear of ridicule saw her playing dumb, causing her to harbor hate for those that underestimated her. Deciding her only escape routes were crime and knowledge, she mastered both, secretly—and avidly—studying science as she grew.

By age sixteen, she taught herself the equivalent of multiple doctorates in genetics, cybernetics, and physics, using this knowledge to launch a criminal career. By 18, she had drawn the Yellow Claw’s interest, who hoped to develop a deadly, obedient army from America’s convict population. In pursuit of this goal, he funded Johnson’s research into artificial lycanthropy, setting her up in the remote Grimrock Prison, with its inmates as her experimental subjects. It was here that she started calling herself Nightshade.

Child Prodigy

Queen of the Werewolves

A scientific genius, Nightshade has claimed to be good at anything she turns her mind to—which thus far has proven to be no idle boast. She is a self-taught expert in the fields of genetics, biochemistry, cybernetics, robotics, and physics; though perhaps bested in specific fields by certain other scientists, her specialist skill level in such a wide range of sciences is matched by only a handful of others.

Nightshade excels at manipulating others, using her youth and perceived innocence to play on peoples’ preconceptions. She claims her first specialty is controlling men with a mesmerizing chemical which can be inhaled in dust form, absorbed through the skin, or applied more subtly as a pheromone perfume. However, certain strong-willed males such as Captain America and the Falcon have proven resistant to her hypnosis.

Nightshade uses a special Lycanthro-Catalyst (“werewolf formula”), which turns men into lycanthropes under her control. Initially, both chemicals wore off in sunlight, but Nightshade has developed stronger, more permanent versions. When Lycanthro-Catalyst is applied to individuals who have another form imprinted on their DNA—such as the Puma’s feline one—the drug triggers a transformation into that form rather than a lupine one. Johnson also uses a gun which fires various cartridges, including fast-setting expanding silk strong enough to support several hundred pounds, a flesh-eating enzyme, and acidified dimethoxy propane.

She has also used a reflective silicon coating in baby oil rubbed on her skin to break down the force fields that give Black Panther’s energy daggers their structural integrity. As well, Nightshade has used a paralytic enzyme on her gloves that can eat through the Panther’s Vibranium-weave costume to attack his central nervous system.

Queen of the Werewolves

Nightshade is also a robotic and electronics expert, designing super strong Cybernauts capable of passing for humans, as well as larger models designed specifically to fight superhuman foes.


Captain America, AKA Steve Rogers, was turned into a werewolf by a serum developed by Nightshade, though she lost control of him when the substance conflicted with his Super-Soldier Serum. She was later coerced into developing a cure for his werewolf issue.

The Defenders, including Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and the Hulk, have faced Nightshade on a number of occasions, typically catching her in the midst of a plan to sabotage New York before putting her in jail.

Criminal Colleagues

Yellow Claw once got in contact with Tilda Johnson with the hope that she’d develop him a deadly, obedient army from America’s convict population. He funded her research into artificial lycanthropy at the remote Grimrock Prison and gave her the inmates to use as her experimental subjects.

Femizons, a group dedicated to world domination by creating a utopia where women rule, were led by the criminal scientist Superia; the group consisted of established female criminals and Super Villainesses. Nightshade was Superia's second-in-command until the Red Skull killed her leader—and their utopian dream.

M.O.D.O.K.'s 11 was a squad of mercenaries and criminals that Nightshade once joined. It was led by M.O.D.O.K., the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing (a mutated cybernetic version of George Tarleton, a technician for the scientific arm of Hydra) until most of the group betrayed each other before disbanding.




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Universe, Other Aliases, Education, Place of Origin, Identity, Powers
  • Universe

  • Other Aliases

  • Education

  • Place of Origin

  • Identity

  • Powers

Scientific Journal

After learning that Captain America and the Falcon were near the remote Grimrock Prison, Nightshade lured the pair to the place in order to test her werewolves in battle against them. Capturing the Falcon, she injected him with her werewolf serum and forced Captain America to fight him, but when Captain America prevailed, the Claw ruled her experiments to be a failure and abandoned her. Knowing the rays of the imminently rising sun would turn her werewolves human again, and witnessing Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. arriving to hunt for Claw, Nightshade fled with her experimental subjects. She then feigned suicide by leaping off a parapet before diving through a hidden entrance into an underground river, though her followers crashed fatally onto the rocks below.

Scientific Journal

Months later, a vengeful Johnson—now going by Deadly Nightshade—used her mesmerizing powers to take over the male agents at the S.H.I.E.L.D. base where the Falcon had been taken to be deprogrammed after the Red Skull had brainwashed him. When Captain America visited his friend, Nightshade tried to control him too, and when he proved resistant, she turned the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents on him. However, female agent Valentina de Fontaine realized Nightshade’s hypnosis could be dispelled by sunlight, and told Captain America and Falcon to lure their pursuers into the base’s solarium. Deprived of her lackeys, Deadly Nightshade was easily captured.

After escaping, Nightshade schemed to take over the mob using robotic “Cybernauts.” Starting her plan in Harlem, she used the robotic businessman R.U. Rossum as her front, pretending to be his girlfriend before unleashing her Cybernauts on the neighborhood. They soon took over the protection rackets, driving out the local gangs and the Maggia. Unable to stop them, the police enlisted the aid of Power Man, Iron Fist, and Misty Knight in identifying the robot’s controller. After Knight and Cage discovered her first base, Nightshade evacuated to the South Bronx, putting her plans for a New York takeover on hold while she developed a more powerful generation of Cybernauts, but the heroes tracked her down again. Correctly deducing Rossum’s true nature, they destroyed him and captured Nightshade.

After escaping again, Nightshade learned that a new experimental computer circuit (which could override other systems) was being transported across the country. Aware it would be heavily guarded, she used her “helpless girl” act to trick the Hulk into stealing it for her. However, Power Man and Iron Fist—who had been hired to guard the circuit—and Machine Man tracked down the Hulk and then Nightshade. Outnumbered, the villain abandoned the circuit and ran, but the Hulk, convinced by his Defenders teammate and friend Power Man that he had been duped, soon caught up with her. He destroyed her car before leaving her for the arriving police.

After lowering her criminal aims, Nightshade plotted to rob Manhattan’s Society Debutante Cotillion with the willing aid of Man-Mountain Marko, the Eel, and the mesmerized help of Stiletto and Discus. Unfortunately for the criminals, Power Man and Iron Fist were escorting Millie Hogarth to the ball as a favor to her father, and soon defeated the villains while Nightshade, humiliatingly, was knocked out by a single blow from Millie.

When Nightshade falsely claimed that she had obtained a doctorate while in prison, she fell into the service of the militant feminist Superia, who was impressed by her scientific achievements. Superia intended to initiate the Earth-715 future timeline of Thundra, where women ruled a world of male slaves. Nightshade became her second-in-command, and gathered an army of female Super Villains on a cruise ship to Superia’s island, Femizonia. There, she secretly indoctrinated the villains into supporting Superia’s cause.

Captain America and Paladin located the ship while hunting for Diamondback (Rachel Leighton), but were captured and delivered to Superia. Believing Captain America to be a paramount threat to their plans, Nightshade felt he should be killed, but Superia overruled her, preferring to test her new feminization process on the captive. When Captain America tried to escape, Johnson was about to shoot him when Diamondback’s ally Asp—uncomfortable with Superia’s plans—knocked her out, allowing Cap to flee.

Nightshade uses her mesmerizing powers

Soon after, Nightshade was mentally coerced by Dredmund Druid into helping him seek vast mystical power. Requiring numerous werewolves as part of his ceremony to become the Starwolf, he used Nightshade’s expertise and the blood of the captured lycanthrope Jack Russell to transform the inhabitants of Starkesboro, Massachusetts. But when Dredmund’s theft of the Godstone (AKA Moongem) drew several other lupine individuals, including the Man-Wolf John Jameson, to the town, Captain America and Dr. Druid soon arrived to handle the chaos. The werewolves captured Captain America, and Nightshade turned him into a werewolf, too—but unlike the townspeople, Cap resisted her control and led other rebel werewolves in revolt, capturing Nightshade. While Captain America and his allies stopped Dredmund, John Jameson injected Nightshade with her own werewolf formula, forcing her to develop an antidote for them all. With the removal of Dredmund’s influence, Nightshade’s loyalties reverted to Superia, but soon after, the Red Skull apparently killed Superia, ending the Femizonian dream.

Returning to New York and her original costume, Nightshade was hired by Eric Killmonger to battle the Black Panther alongside Bossman Morgan, Stiletto, “Cockroach” Hamilton, and the Serpent Society’s Cottonmouth. However, the Panther joined Falcon, Black Goliath, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist to defeat the nefarious gang, and Nightshade was again imprisoned.

Breaking out, Nightshade sought revenge, reviving the Black Dragon Chiantang and poisoning him to coerce his assistance, but instead, he took her prisoner. The Black Panther rescued her, but then incarcerated her on board a Wakandan N’Yami battleship. She escaped when Chiantang attacked the vessel, and while looking for a way off, Nightshade discovered the comatose body of another Black Panther, one from an alternate future who was dying from a brain aneurism. Intrigued, she revived him just as the ship arrived in Wakanda, where she was permitted to stay because she claimed to be the only person capable of keeping the second Panther alive. To her surprise, she grew fond of this older Panther, impressed by his bravery, respectfulness and honesty, and accompanied him to Kiber Island alongside Everett Ross, Princess Zanda, and Abner Little to steal the time traveling King Solomon’s Frog from Kiber the Cruel. When the elder Panther later collapsed and was subsequently murdered by Man-Ape, Nightshade was distraught at his passing.

Nightshade then tried to go straight, but lacking formal qualifications, had to find work as a hospital receptionist. After she was fired from the job for embarrassing a doctor by pointing out a bad diagnosis, he researched her background and exposed her criminal past. She resisted returning to crime, but her resolve wavered as money ran out. In return for promised millions, she joined M.O.D.O.K.’s squad of mercenaries and criminals. She was recruited to steal a Hypernova energy device from the Infinicide—temporal cartographers from the end of time who were briefly visiting the modern era to gather data.

Hired by Modok

She developed friendships with many of her colleagues. She flirted with Rocket Racer, confided in Armadillo about her recent decision to go straight, and restored Puma’s powers when he lost them midway through the mission. She then risked her life to defend him from the Mandarin, who also coveted the Hypernova. Though most members betrayed the group (including Rocket Racer who had made a deal with S.H.I.E.L.D.), Puma, Armadillo, and Nightshade stuck to the deal, and M.O.D.O.K. paid them their own money plus a split of the traitors’ share. With millions of dollars to resolve their financial woes, and feeling it was a shame to break up a profitable team, Nightshade and Armadillo offered to assist Puma on their own.

fighting skills