Angela Cairn is a detective, a woman of Cuban and indigenous descent, utterly stoic and in control at work but lonely and dedicated to protecting people behind her mask. She first appears as a stereotypical tough cop, angry at Spider-Man’s attempts to have Harry Osbourne, then the Green Goblin, treated by the psychiatrist, Dr Kafka. Previously, Kafka’s efforts to rehabilitate the mutate Vermin had ended with him breaking out and killing several police officers.
Angela is lured into a trap by another creation of Zemo’s, who uses the Baron’s mutation machines on her, killing her in the process. Her body is dumped in the harbour, only for Angela to later revive, changed. Her transformation is extensive: her eyes turn red or white; her hair turns white and becomes prehensile; she grows 11-foot batwings; her nails become vicious claws and her ears pointed. She is empathic, able to sense and project emotion, but temporarily loses her human voice. She takes on the name Nocturne.
Before her transformation, Angela reveals that one of Vermin’s victims was Jackie Kessler, a woman she calls “My partner. And dearest friend.” The immediate thought is that they were police partners, but as Jackie was a uniformed officer, this is (while not impossible) unlikely. Angela is still devastated by Jackie’s death, which was a common way to ‘safely’ show queer love in the 1990s.
Although further details seem to confirm her sexuality, it is never explicitly stated. After becoming Nocturne, she saves a boy from a gay bashing, able to sense that “he wasn’t man enough for them… his lifestyle choices didn’t please them”, and then aligns herself with the victim, explaining several times that he was “so much like myself”. Her preoccupation with Jackie, and her references to being an outsider, even in her own community, also point to her being queer. However, without an explicit statement, and with so many details stuffed into her short background and origin, her sexuality was somewhat buried.
Nocturne worked to bring people to justice, teaming up with an animalistic Puma take down predatory drug dealers. However, after an encounter with Spider-Man resulted in Puma returning to his human self, Thomas Fireheart, Nocturne fled Spider-Man’s attempt to “cure” her mutations. That was her last appearance.
Angela Cairn and her alter ego were created by J M Dematteis. and Jerry Bingham. Art by Jerry Bingham from Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #13.
All rights reserved Marvel Entertainment.
Researched and written by Holly Roberts. Roberts has an MLitt in Comics and Graphic Novels.