Quincy McIver (Bushmaster)

The second heads-up comes from Mickey, and regards Luke Cage. Bushmaster has quite a tragic family history, full of violence and betrayal, with his father being betrayed and killed by his friend Buggy Stokes, thus causing the man’s neverending hatred for the entire family. Bushmaster’s father was named Quincy McIver, a name that in the comics actually belongs to his brother, the second (and toughest) Bushmaster. Albeit not appearing in person during the series, Quincy can be spotted in a photograph on the New York Bulletin in episode eight, If it Ain’t Rough, it Ain’t Right, enough for us to take a better look at him as he is originally. You’ll find very little of human in him left.

Quincy McIver was born in St. Croix, in the Caribbean Virgin Islands. Since he was a kid, he practically deified his older brother John, and all he wanted from his life was to be just like him. Unlike John, who learnt to live by himself on the streets, Quincy wasn’t so street-smart and careful, and he usually got in trouble. John stole from shops to survive, and as soon as Quincy found this out he tried to imitate him, but he was caught on his first try. Terrified by the shopkeeper, Quincy started to blabber about everything trying to convince him to let him go, and even let slip that he was the brother of John McIver. When John knew about it, he visited the shopkeeper by night and killed him, then went on hiding for years. Quincy followed him loyally, always trying to become like him. When John became an employee of Herve Argosy, a powerful gangster, his younger brother insisted to be let in the gang as well, and John, who had earned enough trust from Argosy, managed to grant his wish… but things turned out pretty bad for Quincy. During his very first mission, the young man was spotted by the police, and he tried to escape by swimming away… only to end up in a motorboat’s propeller, and get all his limbs chopped off. He was arrested barely alive, and brought to a hospital, where his brother came to visit him just to mock him and to tell him to stay away from him from there on, as he would have never covered up his messes again. As John left to Europe, Quincy was left alone in the hospital, waiting to be transferred to prison as he stabilized… but fate had something else in mind, and he was collected by Roxxon Oil instead. The powerful crooked corporation was looking for “volunteers” to create new super-agents, and Quincy McIver was the perfect choice. The young man spent the following years in a Roxxon lab, where what remained of his body was attached to cybernetic prosthetic, that made him look like a human-snake hybrid. During the process, John McIver came back to the United States and tried to become a true crime boss as the Bushmaster, but ended up losing his life: Quincy decided to take up the mantle of Bushmaster to honor his memory.

As the new Bushmaster, Quincy served Roxxon for years, guarding their facilities and doing their dirty work, but he was uncomfortable with his new life and his new self: with his legs replaced by a long serpentine tail, he felt like a freak. The occasion to feel right at home came when Sidewinder recruited him to be a part of his Serpent Society, a mercenary group where everybody had serpentine traits, in a way or another. Finally, Bushmaster had found a place he fit in perfectly, and he even found real friendship, such as the one with Rachel “Diamondback” Leighton. This friendship became even closer during the Society’s first mission: hired by A.I.M. to hunt down the rogue M.O.D.O.K., the Serpent Society found the super-intelligent cyborg, but he cut Bushmaster’s tail and arms, leaving him to die. Diamondback was the one who saved him, and brought him back to the base in time to have his missing limbs replaced. As he felt he had found a family in the Serpent Society, he was fiercely loyal to Sidewinder, and stayed by his side even when the Viper took over… only to end up poisoned by the new leader-wannabe. Saved once again by Diamondback (and by Captain America, who wanted to take down Viper), he helped reform the original Serpent Society, with Cobra as the leader. During yet another mission, Bushmaster was dispatched to retrieve four mystical objects from the Deviant Ghaur and Llyra, guardian of the Serpent Crown, a mission that saw the team squaring off against the X-Men. During the ensuing battle, Bushmaster was about to overpower Dazzler, but she revealed to him that she was actually Diamondback, displaced in Dazzler’s body by magic. Believing her, as she knew things only Diamondback could have known, Bushmaster retreated from battle, wanting to repay his debt. This mission, and the following one against Mister Hyde, was the beginning of the end for the team, as many members, including Diamondback, ended up betraying. Bushmaster voted to spare Diamondback’s life, but the Serpent Society never recovered from the deceits, and it split. Quincy himself was later captured by Diamondback, Captain America and Paladin, and locked in the Vault. He didn’t stay long there, though, as Baron Zemo broke him out and forcefully recruited him in his Thunderbolts: maybe, this time, he would have found a more stable team… or he would have just learnt to stay on his own.

Quincy McIver is a stubborn and determined man, sometimes even brutal and cruel, but still blocked by a fragile personality that makes him always look for a family to belong to, usually looking for it in the worst places possible. As Bushmaster, he has his missing legs replaced by a strong, prehensile tail, that allows him to move at superior speeds and even to constrict his enemies to death; also his arms are replaced by cybernetic limbs, and are equipped with a retractable Fang Blade each, very sharp and imbued with snake venom. A lethal mercenary just as deadly as he looks, Bushmaster is still embittered over his condition of a quadriplegic, and vents his anger over the world with criminal acts. The void he feels the most, however, is the lack of his older brother, a nostalgia that brings him to seek approval from everyone he sees as a possible replacement for John.

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Mortimer George Norris (Mister Fish)

And here’s the third (and last?) new character from Luke Cage Season 3. In episode 3 Wig Out there’s a goon who has the brilliant idea to try and attack Misty Knight while she’s having a drink with Colleen Wing at a bar, in retaliation for sending his brother to Dannemora. Obviously, this doesn’t end well for the thug, whose name is Mortimer Norris, one the comicbook readers are pretty familiar with. Portrayed by Hakim Callender, Norris is just a big bad guy, but in the comics he’s definitely more peculiar and recognizable, and his battle name, as ridiculous as it may be, actually summarizes it all: let’s meet together Mister Fish.

Mortimer Norris was born in Harlem, New York City, and since he was a kid he developed signs of a physical deformation that set him apart from all the kids his age. He mostly hanged out with his little brother Bill, but he obviously sought a different company. In order to be accepted, he tried to compensate looks with skill, and he trained a lot to become the strongest one around, obviously ending up employed in some of the local gangs as thug. When he was still a teenager, he became part of the Fang Gang, a group of criminal wannabes he had been invited in by Dontrell Hamilton. Always looking for company, he gladly joined Hamilton, Ray Jones, Lonnie Lincoln, Cornell Stokes and Mariah Dillard. Following Lonnie’s suggestion, he even had his teeth replaced with triangular blades, an operation that was supposed to be the trademark of the gang. Then, however, Mortimer got smitten by Mariah, and made advances on her; she was, at the time, Dontrell’s girlfriend, and the tensions the triangle created eventually dismantled the group. Mortimer, on his own again, ended up being employed by the local branch of the Maggia, becoming a full-time goon. Years later, he was assigned with two other thugs by his boss to steal a crate of experimental isotopes from a truck. The heist went as planned, but Norris foolishly opened the crate to see inside: the radiation made him dizzy and confused, enough to make him fall into the East River. When he emerged, the radiation had mutated him, and his DNA had been merged with the one of the river’s fish: he was now even more monstrous than before, a human-fish hybrid who started calling himself Mister Fish. As with the monster look he had also gained some useful superhuman ability, the Maggia promptly made him the leader of the Harlem branch, entrusting him to create a solid territory and start remunerative business.

Mr. Fish created his own gang, with the dwarf Shrike as his second in command. The main business running through his would-be territory was Hudson Trucking, so Fish started destroying the company’s trucks, trying to force them to pay him for the privilege of crossing his turf. When Jake, the company’s representative, tried to fight back, Mr. Fish opened his chest with a single swing of his claws, severely wounding him. The one thing he hadn’t foreseen was that, the moment he recovered, Jake hired Luke Cage to protect his trucks. The hero proved to be a handful for Fish’s men, but he managed to knock him down, later bringing him on top of a building in construction to throw him off the roof and kill him for good. Cage, however, survived the fall, and climbed back for round two. This time, the hero easily dispatched all of Mr. Fish’s goons, and was prepared for the main dish: when Mr. Fish tried to ram him with a girder, Power Man didn’t have to do anything but to move a little, so that he dodged the blow and let Fish and his improvised weapon fall from the rooftop, apparently to Mortimer’s death. His new body, however, proved to be more durable than expected, and Mr. Fish actually survived the fall, but decided to lay low for a while, as he had been clearly outmatched by Cage. As more and more heroes rose, and just as many would-be bosses popped up, Fish stayed in the shadows, observing everything. Finally, years later, he decided to resurface to warn his old friend Lonnie Lincoln, now going by the name Tombstone, that a new rival of his, the Black Cat, was about to attack him to claim from him the leadership over Harlem. Tombstone accepted Mr. Fish’s advice, and actually forged an alliance with him. During one of their meetings, though, another new player burst in: Alex Wilder, a new promise in New York’s criminality. With his gadgets, Wilder beat the hell out of Tombstone, and magically sent Fish to the real Hell. Mortimer Norris stayed among torments and tortures for a while, until Tombstone managed to enlist the help of the sorcerer Black Talon to get him out of Hell. Quite a traumatic return, for someone who had been away so long.

Mortimer Norris is not exactly a brilliant man, not even a clever one, but he knows how to move among criminals, and how to earn their respect with the few talents he has. As Mister Fish, his amphibious physiology allows him to survive underwater and gave him sharp claws, in addition to the artificial fangs he already possessed; he also possesses superhuman strength and durability, and always carries along a ray gun of unknown origin, strong enough to knock out even Luke Cage. A would-be Harlem boss who eventually resolved to occupy just a subordinate position, Mr. Fish is smart enough to understand his own limits and know his place… but not much more than that.

 

Raymond Jones (Piranha)

The second character appearing in this new season of Luke Cage is also in the first episode, Soul Brother #1, and is not a good guy either. Chaz Lamar Shepherd portrays Raymond “Piranha” Jones, a Wall Street broker who’s also a close ally of Mariah Dillard, and who helps her with inside trading and other shady maneuvers. The funny thing is that he’s also a fan of Luke Cage, something that definitely sets him apart from his comicbook counterpart, who’s also a little bit more menacing in terms of looks. His nickname, Piranha Jones, doesn’t come in fact from fame obtained in Wall Street or his flashing smile, but rather from his very teeth. Let’s see together.

Raymond “Ray” Jones was born in Harlem, New York City, and grew up in a very poor family. When he was young, he suffered from a rare disease that made teeth rot and decay at an incredibly fast rate, to then painfully fall away. Since his parents didn’t have money to pay a dentist, he was completely toothless by the age of fifteen. Around this time, his mother died in a factory accident, and he was alone with a father who spent all the little money he had at the River Edge’s Bar. Left alone, Ray Jones started spending more and more time on the streets, where he became friends with another social outcast, Dontrell Hamilton. Seeing how the Sinister Six had teamed up and nearly outed Spider-Man, Dontrell had the idea to create a gang in Harlem to take over the neighborhood, and Ray was the first one to join him, together with Dontrell’s girlfriend Mariah Dillard. Other three then followed: the albino Lonnie Lincoln, the deformed Mortimer Norris and baldie Cornell Stokes. Because of Ray’s condition, Lincoln had the idea to have the members of the gang to have their teeth replaced by triangular blades, a process without anesthesia that Ray, Lincoln, Mortimer and Cornell happily underwent. They became the Fang Gang… and they disbanded before even attempting to do something, as some tensions within the group led them to take different paths. Ray, however, kept forming a duo with Dontrell, and kept walking the criminal path. Because of his razor sharp new teeth, Ray became known as Piranha Jones, while Dontrell specialized as a hitman, going by the name Cockroach Hamilton. The two of them perfectly compensated each other, and Jones’ brains wonderfully matched Hamilton’s guns. In the time of a decade, Piranha Jones had become a feared and respected mob boss, with Hamilton as his primary assassin, and he had earned a fortune, passing from his falling apart apartment to a penthouse on the East River. Quite a progress.

Learning of a lethal chemical that was about to be shipped by Adonis Chemical Company, Piranha Jones decided to hijack the cargo to climb one step further in New York’s criminality, and sent Cockroach Hamilton to secure his source and then lead the operation to steal the chemical. New York, however, was now crowded with heroes and vigilantes, and his little operation with Adonis attracted the attention of one of them: Power Man. The hero interfered over and over again with the plan, until he came to confront Piranha Jones in his very house. The boss held his own against the indestructible adversary, mostly because of his teeth, that he liked to use on his enemies like the fish he took the name from, but then he tried to throw Power Man in the piranha tank he kept in his house to execute enemies and failing subordinates. As a result, both he and Luke Cage fell into the tank (with Hamilton readily locking the air lock behind them). Power Man freed himself and saved Piranha Jones, but only to leave him to the police. As he escaped from prison along with Cockroach Hamilton, Ray decided to change turf, and moved to Stamford, Connecticut, where he actually tried to turn on a new leaf. Here, however, the community wouldn’t accept him… apart from three women, “Babyface” Ann Repucci, Vita Jane “The Headcutter” Buchetta, and “Cruella” Cortese, who were actually trying to use Piranha to start their own criminal empire. Sick and tired of this, realizing it was too late for him to change life, he elaborated a plan, without informing Cockroach: he had Rat steal data from the princesses of crime, and then he hired Terror, Inc. to kill him, wanting to frame the women for his own murder. This way, he would have actually managed to escape a life he was tired of, and stop three emerging gangsters. Despite an untimely intervention by The Punisher, Terror did what he had been hired to do, and killed Piranha Jones for one dollar, giving the rest of the money in charity, as a sign of respect for the ex mobster’s sacrifice. Years later, however, he resurfaced alive and well in South Bronx, where he was recruited by Black Cat in her new gang. How this was possible, and why he came back to his old ways, is yet to be revealed…

Ray Jones is an intelligent and clever man, who managed to climb from absolute poverty to luxury on his own, albeit sacrificing his humanity in the process and becoming an unscrupulous and brutal criminal. As Piranha Jones, he’s a surprisingly skilled hand-to-hand combatant, and he has his fallen teeth replaced with triangular blades he uses as lethal weapons in close combat; the teeth are hard enough to hurt even Luke Cage, and also to deflect bullets. A man who believed to know what he wanted from life, Piranha Jones is now trapped in a life he chose too hastily and he deeply dislikes, unable to come back from a path that has already gotten him too far away from where he started.

Dontrell Hamilton (Cockroach)

Luke Cage arrived with Season 2, and in the next few days we’re going to see which characters the series borrows from the comics this time. I found three during the first run, if I missed someone, as usual make me know in the comments. In the first episode, Soul Brother #1, we meet Dontrell “Cockroach” Hamilton, a gangster portrayed by Dorian Crossmond Missick. He had been arrested by Misty Knight and Rafael Scarfe, but since the last one turned out to be dirty, he’s free again. In the comics, Cockroach Hamilton is a lethal hitman with quite a history with Luke Cage, and his modified gun (albeit much smaller) he nicknames Josh also pops up in the tv series. Let’s take a look.

Dontrell Hamilton was born in New York City, and grew up in Harlem. His family was missing for a reason or another, and he raised himself on the streets. He slept in an empty building, and every night he was scared by the noises, especially those made by the cockroaches infesting the house. Eventually, however, Dontrell learnt to win his fear by considering himself part of the ones who were terrifying him, and he even chose as his street name “Cockroach”. With no fear anymore, he became a respected thug in the block, and he became friends with another messed up kid, Ray Jones, aka Piranha Jones. The two formed quite a duo, with Piranha being the mind and Cockroach being the muscle. With time, Cockroach Hamilton trained himself to be a hitman, and served as the primary assassin for his friend, who was trying to build a criminal empire. One day, the two obtained information from Harry Wentworth, a crooked man working for Adonis Chemical Company, about a lethal bacteriological agent that was about to be shipped. The two criminals wanted the agent for themselves, so Hamilton was sent to kill Wentworth in order to prevent him to share the information with others. Once there, Cockroach crossed paths with Power Man, who was investigating Adonis: the two fought, but Cockroach won the day by using his modified six-barrel shotgun to kill Wentworth and shoot Luke Cage down the building, dislocating his shoulder. For the next step, Cockroach took some of Piranha’s men and went to the Harlem River docks, where he planned to complete the hijacking, but Power Man appeared once again. This time, Cockroach knocked him out shooting gas at him, then, unable to hurt him, he tied him to the drawbridge, hoping he would have been torn in half. This didn’t exactly turned out the way he had expected, though, as the hero returned once again, this time in Piranha’s penthouse, to confront both him and Cockroach.

This time, Power Man was prepared for Josh, so he destroyed the gun first thing, and then knocked out Cockroach Hamilton. The hitman came back to his senses just as the hero and Piranha Jones were falling in a tank full of piranhas: demonstrating once again that there’s no honor among thieves, he locked them both there, and escaped. Cage, however, was powerful enough to break the tank, save Jones and reach Hamilton, leaving both thugs to the police. Prison didn’t hold the two partners for long, and looking for a new leaf they moved to Stamford, Connecticut, where they tried to start a racket of their own. The population didn’t like them the least, as they immediately tried to make them pay for protection, but Josh was a motivation enough to move at least some of them to cooperate. Things became complicated the moment Terror Inc. was hired to kill Piranha Jones, and Cockroach Hamilton found himself unable to protect his boss as his modified gun kept jamming. If things weren’t bad enough, also The Punisher had just arrived in town. His mission failed miserably, as Punisher killed all his men, and Terror killed Piranha, forcing him to run with his tail between his legs. Without Ray for the first time in his life, Hamilton became an assassin for hire, and hired he was some time later by another prominent member of the Harlem criminality: Nightshade, who was gathering a team to kill Black Panther. Hamilton joined Boss Morgan, Stiletto and Cottonmouth in ambushing the Wakandian king, but was easily overpowered when Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Falcon, Black Goliath, Brother Voodoo and Everett Ross joined him and vanquished Nightshade’s team. Despite the humiliation, Dontrell was freed by Nightshade’s lawyer, Big Ben Donovan, and hired once again in her Flashmob, in which he stayed until he betrayed the team for Alex Wilder‘s New Pride. From team to team, maybe he would have eventually scored a victory. Maybe.

Dontrell Hamilton is a man who lives by the day, trying to earn some money to make a living from, and caring nothing if this money comes at someone else’s expenses. As Cockroach Hamilton, he’s a very skilled hitman, who compensates the lack of superpowers with the use of some inventive weapons: his trademark gun is Josh, a modified six-barreled shotgun that can stun even an invulnerable target like Luke Cage, and that can shoot also special bullets like gas ones; lately, he also started to use high-tech weaponry other than Josh. The living definition of a thug, Cockroach Hamilton feels no fear and always goes down his own road, avoiding bonds with friends and quickly disposing of enemies: this way, he hopes at least to leave longer than the animals he takes his name from.

Rosalie Carbone

The second season for Luke Cage is but one day far, but we already got a look at one of the new recurring characters from the sophomore year: Rosalie Carbone, portrayed by Annabella Sciorra. Rosalie will make her presence felt as an influential criminal who sets her eyes on Harlem, thus entering either in conflict or in business with Mariah Dillard (and possibly Bushmaster). We also know that she’ll pop up again in the third season of Daredevil, even if in a yet undisclosed role. The original character, however, isn’t tied either to Power Man nor to the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, but rather to another anti-hero who already debuted on Netflix with his own series. Let’s see together.

Rosalie Carbone was born in New York City, the daughter of Italian-American mob boss Julius Carbone. She grew up in her luxurious house in Brooklyn, and she lived like a princess, being honored and respected as the heiress of one of the most influential Mafia families. When she became adult, Julius organized for her a marriage with a man named Enrico, from Naples, a union that would have tied the Carbonis to another powerful family in Italy. Things weren’t exactly going as they were supposed to, as Rosalie just started a sexual relationship with the latest addition to the family, Johnny Tower, and she was with him everytime her father attended a meeting. She first met her betrothed in the Isla de Tiburones Durimientes, but she didn’t like him the least. She was soon relieved of the burden of the marriage, however, when her uncle Sal Carbone, now transformed into the vengeful and unstoppable Thorn, showed up, killing Enrico and starting a war when the groom’s father found out his son had been murdered by a Carbone. During the following shootout, Johnny Tower revealed himself to be The Punisher, and he exploited the situation to kill a number of mafioso, but also rescued Rosalie in the process. As Punisher was leaving the island with Rosalie, she watched helplessly as her father was thrown into a shark tank by Thorn: exhausted by anger, fear and grief, she fainted. She woke up alone, and with the thought that she had been deceived and used by The Punisher to get to her father. Enraged, she came back home only to discover that the remaining high-ranking members of the family were having a meeting without inviting her, to decide the destiny of the Carbonis. She presented herself uninvited, and claimed her rightful position as capo. When the senior bosses mocked her for being a woman, she had them killed, and took the lead of the family. Her first order was simple: she wanted The Punisher’s head.

With the resources of her family, Rosalie Carbone put a 5 million dollars bounty on Punisher’s head, and seven international assassins (the Mexican Tequila, the British Cane, the Spanish Roc, the Brazilian Stiletto, the Madripoorian Silence, the Texan Combat and the French Garrote) answered the call. Outnumbered, Punisher kidnapped Rosalie, and used her as leverage to take out all his enemies. By the end of the day, everyone who opposed the vigilante was dead except Rosalie, who had been spared once more. When Vito Vaducci called for a meeting of all the families, Rosalie was among the few who didn’t attend to, as she knew the Punisher would have been there: the choice proved to be wise, as all the bosses present got killed in an explosion. With the power vacuum, Rosalie obtained a lot of strength and influence, and decided to let The Punisher be for a while… but a new nuisance, a self-appointed Lady Punisher, proved to be just as annoying, so she sent one of her best assassins, Mondo Pain, to dispose of her. The new vigilante survived, but at least she was sent away. Now Rosalie had a more pressing matters in her hands: the family merging with Vito Vaducci, who had survived the bombing. The first meeting wasn’t exactly idyllic, as it was obvious Vito was trying to gain power over the Carbone family without giving anything in return, and he even tried (vainly) to seduce Rosalie. Immediately after that, a new Punisher (Carlos Cruz, sent by Microchip) tried to kill Rosalie, who believed him to be the original and let her guard down. She saved herself only because Vaducci, in the meanwhile, had sent his men to kill her, and their presence distracted the Punisher long enough to allow her to escape. Enraged, she played coy with Vaducci, and organized another meeting in Las Vegas, but also hired Bullseye to kill both Vito and The Punisher. The latter came prepared, and accompanied by the armored vigilante Phalanx, so Bullseye had his hands full, and while he did kill all Vaducci’s men, and even Phalanx, Vito managed to escape… until he met Rosalie in the elevator, and was shot down by her in person. As usual, when she wanted something done well, she had to do it herself.

Rosalie Carbone appears as a vain and self-centered woman, but that’s just a play put up to move people to underestimate her: she’s actually a careful planner and a skilled businesswoman, a ruthless and authoritative leader who successfully commands one of the biggest and most powerful Mafia families of the West Coast. With a huge fortune and enough men to form a private army on her side, there’s little Rosalie can’t obtain, and she’s able to pull the strings also of the richest and most influential men in the country. Driven by a keen intellect and by all the fury of a woman scorned, Rosalie Carbone is an extremely dangerous foe for anyone foolish enough to cross her way, not that there are many. Not still breathing, anyway.

John McIver (Bushmaster)

The trailer for Luke Cage Season 2 sees our hero in quite a happy time, a super star known everywhere in Harlem and considered invincible by friends and foes alike… until he gets knocked out with a single capoeira kick in the middle of the street. The one who beats Luke Cage and proves to be on an equal ground with him is John “Bushmaster” McIver, the big bad of the season portrayed by Mustafa Shakir. The first season heavily lacked action and a villain worthy of the name (apart from the charismatic Shades), but Bushmaster promises to deliver them both. We dare to hope, and in the meanwhile we take a look at the original one.

John McIver was born on St. Croix, in the Caribbean, and knew poverty since his very childhood. Without parents, he grew up along with his younger brother Quincy, and the two of them survived together on the streets, stealing whatever they could. John was clever enough to always stay out of trouble, but Quincy was reckless, and once got caught by a shopkeeper he was trying to rob. Panicking, Quincy told the shopkeeper that he was John’s brother, thus soiling McIver’s name and reputation. As a result, first John severely beat Quincy, than he proceeded to do the same with the shopkeeper, killing him in the process. From that point on, John gave up on any subtlety, and became a hired muscle, working for several crime bosses. Years later he managed to climb the ranks enough to become the right-hand man of Herve Argosy, the biggest crime lord of the area. He obtained to take the lead of some of Argosy’s business in Europe, and left the islands to make a name for himself. In the Old Continent, McIver took control of many of his alleged boss’ activities, and became a wanted man for FBI, Interpol and CIA as the uncatchable Bushmaster. During this time John had also a son, Cruz, from an unnamed woman. Not many years passed before Bushmaster was approached by the Maggia and joined their international criminal cartel, expanding his power even more. Many agents from several agencies tried to infiltrate his organization, but to no avail… at least, this is what he thought, as his new operative and love interest, Maya Korday, had actually something to hide. John found out about this the moment he decided to come back to the United States to expand further: when he accepted a contract kill from a man named Shrieve, who wanted to get rid of the hero Iron Fist, Maya revealed her true colors.

“Maya Korday” was in fact P.I. Misty Knight, and as soon as she realized her beloved Danny was about to get killed, she blew up her cover, beat down Bushmaster and forced him to reveal to her where the hit was going to take place, then she left and foiled it. Furious and humiliated, Bushmaster swore to take his revenge on Misty Knight, and decided to use her friend Luke Cage to do his bidding, in order to humiliate her the way she had him, with betrayal. First, he had two friends of Luke’s, Dr. Noah Burstein and Claire Temple, captured and held hostage, then he summoned Cage, ordering him to bring Misty Knight to him if he wanted to save his friends… and adding as a bonus a videotape provided by Gadget, one of his men, that could prove his innocence in the heroine affair of years before. To make sure that Luke Cage did as he was told, Bushmaster sent Shades and Comanche to follow him and to report everything that happened. Apparently, Luke Cage did attack the Heroes for Hire, but was defeated by his friend Iron Fist, and proved unable to capture Misty. Even more enraged, Bushmaster forced Dr. Burstein to replicate on him the same procedure that had transformed Luke Cage into Power Man, only to a greater extent, so that he would have been able to do everything by himself. Burstein did as he was told, and Bushmaster acquired the same abilities as Cage, but on a higher level. This became plain clear when Luke Cage came back to free his friends, accompanied by the other Heroes for Hire. With his new powers, Bushmaster was able to fight against Cage, Iron Fist, Misty Knight and Colleen Wing, always holding the upper hand. During the battle, however, Cage and Bushmaster pierced a can containing chemicals, and the substances ended up on a torn power line, causing a massive explosion. The Heroes for Hire escaped with the hostages, but McIver was believed dead in the explosion. They couldn’t be more wrong…

John McIver is a clever and ambitious man, a ruthless criminal who hasn’t the slightest doubt in killing, threatening and hurting anyone standing in his way. As Bushmaster, he’s a street-smart fighter careful and bright enough to make the best out of any situation; plus, Burstein gave him the same abilities as Luke Cage, but on a higher level: he’s incredibly strong, his skin is virtually indestructible, he’s pretty much invulnerable, and he heals quickly from any wound he rarely suffers. All brain and brawn, Bushmaster is an extremely dangerous man, a crime boss who has all the power he wants to build an empire with his own hands.

Tilda Johnson (Deadly Nightshade)

I spoke too fast apparently, as Man-Ape wasn’t the last character spotted in the Black Panther trailer: we have a confirmation of another one who appeared in there, and that’s also a new revelation. When we first see Erik Killmonger with the tribal mask on, he’s accompanied by some of his followers, the first one by his side being a woman: that’s Tilda Johnson, portrayed by Nabiyah Be. It’s quite unexpected to see her here, since in the comics she surely had a few run-ins with Black Panther in his American years, but she never had anything to do with Killmonger (or with Wakanda in general). Let’s see together.

Tilda Johnson was born in HarlemNew York City, the only child of a poor black family. Born with an innate aptitude for science and a remarkable intellect, Tilda didn’t show any sign of being a natural born genius, preferring to hide her true nature behind the facade of a naive girl; she studied in secret and by herself, obtaining an extensive knowledge of chemistry, genetics, physics and much more. With the brain she had she could do pretty much anything, but being a poor girl in a poor ghetto there was just one thing she wanted to do: to gain money as fast as she could to get out of a life she hated with all herself. Despite being just sixteen years old, she became quite a criminal mastermind in a matter of months, starting her own racket. Her successes attracted the attention of much bigger fish, like Yellow Claw, the Chinese crime lord. Claw was looking for allies at the time, and the young genius could have proven useful to him. The two formed quite a formidable team, and Johnson started being called the Deadly Nightshade, due to the project she was working on with Yellow Claw (sometimes, her scientific genius had her being called Doctor Nightshade). Thanks to Claw’s resources and Nightshade’s brain, they developed a special serum that could transform any human into obedient werewolves, a super-powered army fiercely loyal to its master. Deadly Nightshade started experimenting her serum on jail convicts, so that she could use the inmates as invincible minions for Yellow Claw: the plan succeeded, but S.H.I.E.L.D. noticed the disappearance of the prisoners, and sent Captain America on the criminal duo’s trails. Cap defeated Yellow Claw and his werewolves, but Nightshade managed to escape.

Tilda now had a personal score to settle with Captain America and S.H.I.E.L.D., and she developed another serum to obtain her vengeance: based on pheromones, this new concoction allowed her to mind-control people, and she used it to conquer an entire S.H.I.E.L.D. facility; when Cap came to the rescue, she controlled him as well, forcing the hero to battle his partner, Falcon. It was thanks to the latter that Nightshade was defeated, and this time she was taken into custody by S.H.I.E.L.D. and imprisoned. A common jail couldn’t hold her for long, however, and she soon escaped, coming back to her Harlem and reprising her old objective of becoming the queen of the underworld. She built an army of life-like robots based on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Life Model Decoys, and employed them as muscle to take over the protection rackets in the neighborhood, all the while posing as the mistress of R. U. Rossum, a “crime boss” who was actually one of the robots. Nightshade managed to overthrow Maggia, but her mechanical army was eventually reduced to scraps by Iron Fist and Power Man. She came back months later, this time controlling Hulk to obtain a rare circuit developed by Rand-Meachum Corporation, but Iron Fist and Power Man faced her again, helped by Machine Man. After this umpteenth failure, she once again looked for allies, and she joined Superia‘s feminist terrorist group Femizons, becoming her second in command and developing for her a serum that could transform men into women, even using it on the likes of Captain America and Paladin. She even built a “sterilization bomb” to free women from the burden of motherhood, but the Femizons were eventually defeated. Her past experience with werewolves attracted the interest of Dredmund Cromwell, the Demon Druid, and she replicated for him her werewolf serum, this time successfully transforming Captain America in a feral beast. Every battle, however, turned into a new defeat, and it didn’t take many more experiences like these to make it clear for Tilda that she was wasting her potential in her crime career…

Tilda Johnson is an extremely smart, yet greedy and ambitious woman, a natural genius who believes she has to prove her worth by making as much money as she can in the shortest time possible, thus “redeeming” herself from an early life of poverty. As the Deadly Nightshade (or Doctor Nightshade, or simply Nightshade), she uses her impressive genius to devise weapons, serums and machines for criminal use, such as an army of robots, her werewolf serum, mind-controlling pheromones, and even her own personal battle armor, a strength-enhancing suit with silver spikes protruding from it; she’s also a superb athlete and a skilled hand-to-hand combatant, more than able to take care of herself if the situation doesn’t allow her to hide behind the curtains as usual. Originally an irredeemable crime mastermind, Nightshade is now a changed woman, who thanks to the encounter with people such as Misty KnightNighthawk and Hawkeye is trying to start a new life worthy of her potential… but it’s a long road to redemption, one full of temptations and occasions to come back to the old ways…