The new season of Luke Cage is all about the villains, but while Mariah Dillard and Bushmaster are the clear threats to Luke Cage and Harlem, there is another new character that could make a massive impact, even though viewers may not expect it at first. I'm talking about Mariah's daughter, Tilda, who we meet pretty early on in Season 2 of Luke Cage. Since this is Marvel we are talking about here, viewers may wonder, is Tilda from Luke Cage in the Marvel comics? And what should fans know about her? Tilda Johnson is indeed represented in the Marvel comics, and her role in the comics could foreshadow a huge reveal in this season of Luke Cage.
Spoiler alert: This post will discuss plot details only from the first four episodes of Luke Cage Season 2. We learn about Tilda Johnson when Mariah Dillard's political advisor tells her that she needs to reconnect with her estranged daughter in order to curry political favor. Mariah tracks Tilda down at a holistic medicine shop that she owns, and Tilda hesitantly agrees to give their fraught mother-daughter relationship another chance. It soon becomes clear that Tilda's story involves a lot more people than just Mariah, though. Bushmaster, the new supervillain on the block, shops at Tilda's medicine shop, and buys what she later realizes are ingredients for a power-granting concoction known as Nightshade. Bushmaster inhales this Nightshade to become bulletproof and strong like Luke Cage.
The name of the herbal concoction that is made from Tilda Johnson's medicine shop should be a big tip-off to Marvel comics readers, because in the comics, Tilda becomes the supervillain Nightshade (also referred to as Dr. Nightshade and Deadly Nightshade).
While Mariah Dillard and Bushmaster are plenty scary, the possibility of Luke Cage Season 2 chronicling the origin of Nightshade creates problems on a whole new level for Luke and Harlem alike. Tilda's backstory in the series seems similar enough to her backstory in the comics: She was born into poverty in Harlem and soon realized that she had a natural mastery of all things scientific. In the comics, she used her genius to develop certain pheromones that turned people into werewolves that would obey her every command.
While her main power was turning people into werewolves, Nightshade also developed highly-advanced robots to fight alongside her, and at times she could control heroes like Captain America with her pheromones without turning them into werewolves. After becoming one of the main supervillains in comic arcs against Captain America, Luke Cage, and Black Panther, Nightshade actually did change her ways and fight on the side of good alongside Nighthawk in the end.
Interestingly enough, Nightshade also nearly made an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe earlier this year. Erik Killmonger's girlfriend at the beginning of Black Panther was reportedly originally meant to be Nightshade, but was renamed Linda after Luke Cage cast Tilda Johnson in its second season. It was definitely a good move, since Killmonger's girlfriend gets barely anything to do before dying in Black Panther, and it looks like Tilda is getting a spotlight in Luke Cage.
As for the first few episodes of this season of Luke Cage, it is still up in the air whether the series will show Tilda Johnson becoming the mind-controlling supervillain Nightshade or whether they will somehow alter the comic book character for the show's storyline. The fact that Tilda's power-granting formula is literally called Nightshade, though, definitely suggests that the supervillain reveal must be coming. Let's just hope that Luke Cage will be able to deal with Nightshade when she arrives.