CYPHER: Page 2 of 6

Publication Date: 18th May 2023


The New Mutants were happy to be back at Xavier’s School but dismayed to learn what had transpired in their absence. As part of the ploy to coerce Magneto into transferring the team to Emma Frost’s care, the Hellion called Empath had brutally attacked the New Mutants’ teachers Tom Corsi and Sharon Friedlander. The team decided to teach Empath a lesson. Using Magik’s teleportation powers, they kidnapped Empath and each took turns terrorizing him as he had tortured their instructors. But when Doug’s turn to mete out some vengeance came, he found that he simply didn’t have it in him. Of all the New Mutants, it was Doug who saw that in turning the tables on Empath they had all sunk to his level. [New Mutants (1st series) #43]

A short time later, death visited the New Mutants once more. Doug and Warlock teamed up to help Sunspot clear a dead tree from the school grounds. A freak accident occurred and Roberto was seemingly killed. Doug felt responsible and took his death very hard. However, Warlock was convinced that something was amiss with “selffriendBobby” and insisted that he and Doug perform an autopsy. This revealed Sunspot to be a very sophisticated android. The team found Bobby, Rahne and several other youths who had  been kidnapped by Mojo and coerced into joining his Bratpack.

Mojo had also seduced British mutant, Betsy Braddock, aka Psylocke, and through her psionic powers controlled the Bratpack. Warlock and Cypher managed to escape Mojo but were pursued by the Bratpack. Outmatched by Mojo, Spiral and the Bratpack, Warlock suggested a risky stratagem. By merging with Doug he could provide him with enhanced senses that might allow him to communicate with Psylocke, who had been bonded to Mojo’s computer systems. Doug’s linguistic talents would be crucial in rewriting the programming that kept her enslaved, thus freeing Betsy and the New Mutants from Mojo’s influence.

Doug accepted the risk and merged with Warlock. Their plan did not go as well as expected, as it took much them much longer than either had suspected to liberate their teammates. The longer the merge lasted, the more the psyches of Cypher and Warlock blended and it also increased the chance that Cypher would be infected with the Transmode Virus. Still, the “Team Supreme” managed to accomplish their goal, freeing Psylocke and the New Mutants and defeating Spiral. Once separated, Cypher received a clean bill of health. This adventure formed a special bond between Doug and Betsy Braddock. Though the feelings between the two were strong, the difference in their age presented an insurmountable obstacle. [New Mutants Annual #2]

Mojo was not through with his quest to exploit mutants and, shortly after, kidnapped the X-Men. To ascertain their whereabouts, Doug suggested that he and Warlock merge forms again. Warlock initially protested and warned Cypher that continuing to assume this gestalt form would surely infect Doug with the Transmode virus. Doug chose to take the risk in order to save the X-Men. He also seemed entranced by the unique perspectives he enjoyed when he merged forms with his alien teammate. The New Mutants donned their “graduation costumes” and fought the enthralled X-Men to a standstill. Eventually, they managed to break Mojo’s control over the X-Men and save the day once again. [Uncanny X-Men Annual #10]

It was not long before a series of grim events befell the residents of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. The Morlocks were savagely attacked and nearly exterminated by a band of mutant assassins called the Marauders. Amidst the resulting chaos, Warlock seemed unusually distant, manifesting multiple sensors in search of something but only Doug seemed to notice. His scans proved fruitless but trouble managed to find him in the form of his father, the Magus, who had come to kill Warlock and everyone who would stand in his way. Realizing the deadly peril presented by the Magus, Magik tried to transport the entire team to Limbo. However, something went awry with her teleport and the team was briefly scattered through time and space. With the aid of Professor X and the Starjammers, Magik managed to retrieve Doug and the others from the alternate realities that they had ended up in. [New Mutants (1st series) #46-47, 49]

Continuing their battle with Warlock’s father, the Magus clearly outmatched the combined forces of the New Mutants and Starjammers, despite Professor X mentally directing their attacks. Warlock’s defeat seemed imminent. It was Doug who devised a plan to defeat the Magus. Merging their forms once more, Cypher tapped into Warlock’s own DNA in order to learn how to “re-code” it. While the rest of the New Mutants and the Starjammers distracted Magus, Cypher and Warlock re-wrote the Magus’ DNA, effectively reducing him to infancy. Once more, Doug’s passive power to decipher codes and languages proved to be invaluable in saving the day. His moral certainty was at play as well. Doug had the ability to destroy the Magus but found that he couldn’t kill, even when the foe was as dangerous and powerful as Magus. Instead, he found a way to remain a hero and still thwart his enemy. [New Mutants (1st series) #50]

Upon returning to Earth, Sunspot had a falling out with the New Mutants and ran away from Xavier’s. Fearing for his teammate’s well-being, Warlock followed him to New York City and remained with him when he joined the street gang called the Fallen Angels. Warlock’s absence from the team once again left Doug feeling vulnerable and useless as a New Mutant. [Fallen Angels (1st series) #1] A few days later, Doug had a nightmare in which he was infected with the Transmode virus. He could not contain the power and inadvertently transmoded the rest of the New Mutants. He was finally confronted by Warlock who had risen to the role of Magus and saw Cypher as his offspring in the Technarch’s traditional contest between sire and son. Doug awoke from the dream and was relieved to see that he was still human. But his assumption was wrong. A tiny speck of the Transmode virus was germinating in his eye. [New Mutants (1st series) #53]

Doug found a ready distraction from his anxieties while at a Hellfire Club party. He joined the flirtatious Hellion, Roulette, in the poker room and met with great success, which he attributed to his skill at cards and his ability to “read” body language. The two kissed and celebrated with lots of champagne and room service. By the time their teammates found them partying upstairs, Cypher was spectacularly drunk. When it dawned on him that Roulette may have used her luck-altering powers to help him win, he slapped her. Thunderbird did not take the assault on his teammate lightly and planned to teach Doug a lesson. With tensions running high, Cannonball suggested that the two teams put their mutual tension to good use in a friendly contest. A member of the Hellfire Club had been publicly swindled by the Silver Samurai and Viper. The teams set out to see which team could capture the culprits. During the battle, Cypher valiantly blocked a sniper blast that was intended for Mirage. He saved her life and survived thanks to his protective graduation costume which included a bulletproof vest. The New Mutants lost the contest but Doug had once again proven his bravery. [New Mutants (1st series) #53-54]

Following the Hellfire Club ball, Doug began to have feelings for his fellow New Mutant, Rahne Sinclair. The two grew closer while attending an event hosted by Lila Cheney and began noticing each other in a romantic way. Around the same time, Rahne noticed media coverage of a creature dubbed the Bird Boy and was concerned that he might be a mutant. During one of the New Mutants’ adventures, the Bird Boy was inadvertently freed from captivity  and became the object of a city-wide hunt. The New Mutants decided to try to rescue him and came into conflict with their rivals, the Hellions who sought to recruit him themselves. The New Mutants triumphed and brought the primitive Bird Boy back to Xavier’s. [New Mutants (1st series) #55-56]

At first, Doug was extremely jealous of Bird Boy due to the amount of time that Wolfsbane was devoting to helping him acclimate. She insisted that he was intelligent and begged Doug to try and decipher his bird-like squawks. Doug initially refused asserting that he wasn’t even human. Eventually, Doug admitted that he hadn’t really tried using his power to bridge the communication gap and once he did, he found that he could talk with Bird Boy. Doug and Rahne enthusiastically set out to teach Bird Boy to speak properly and through this, the two grew even closer. [New Mutants (1st series) #57]

As Bird Boy learned more and more English, the New Mutants learned more about his nature and his origins. They realized that he was genetically engineered and that other animal hybrids like him were imprisoned and being tortured by their crazed creator. The team traveled to the North Atlantic island  where Bird Boy had been created by Dr. Animus aka The Ani-Mator, a scientist in the employ of the mutant-hating group called The Right. Despite Doug’s efforts to communicate with and rally the other frightened creatures there, the New Mutants were defeated and captured by the Ani-Mator and his most powerful creations the Ani-Mates.

Fortunately, the New Mutants managed to escape just before The Right’s commander, Cameron Hodge arrived on the island. A fight ensued but it was nearly lost until the arrival of Warlock and Sunspot helped to turn the tide and insure the New Mutants’ victory. But in the heat of battle, Dr. Animus shot at Wolfsbane. Doug saw this and pushed her out of the way, taking the bullet himself. No one noticed that Cypher was fatally shot while trying to protect Rahne until the battle was over. Not only had Doug sacrificed himself to save Rahne, he had believed in the importance of their mission to free Bird Boy’s people from oppression. In sacrificing himself, he proved once more that he was a hero through and through. [New Mutants (1st series) #60]

The New Mutants were all devastated by Cypher’s death, especially Rahne and Warlock. Rahne blamed herself and obsessively tried to find ways she could have saved Doug on the battlefield. Warlock was distraught but also bewildered by the customs associated with death on Earth. He found himself confused by the mixed messages he was getting from his friends about Heaven, burial, Judgment Day and from TV shows that depicted zombies rising from the dead. At night, Warlock secretly broke into the funeral home and tried to share his own life energy with Doug’s corpse. When nothing happened, he thought perhaps Doug needed to be reminded of what it was like to be alive. He “animated” Doug’s corpse via his shape-shifting and took him to see his mother and then Wolfsbane, to remind him of those he loved. Rahne was horrified by what Warlock had done but came to realize that this was simply Warlock’s attempt to try and bring his “selfriend” back. She explained that they had to put Doug’s body back so it could be buried and they could say goodbye to their friend. [New Mutants (1st series) #64]

Unfortunately, neither Doug’s body nor his spirit was allowed to rest in peace. His spirit lingered in the graveyard where he was buried, unwilling to let go of his connection to the corporeal plane. He appeared to aid his dear friend Kitty Pryde when she and Excalibur needed spiritual support to defeat the specter of the Changeling who had possessed Meggan. Doug tried to appeal to Wolfsbane not to forget him but realized that his attempts to hold on to his old life were preventing her from moving past his death and living life to its fullest. After accepting this, Doug said goodbye to his first real love and granted her his blessing to pursue her feelings for her new teammate, Rictor. [Excalibur: The Possession, New Mutants Annual #6]

At one point, it appeared that Doug Ramsey had been reborn as the techno-organic being called Douglock. Douglock emerged from the Phalanx collective, an anti-mutant techno-organic enclave formed in part from the remains of the recently-deceased Warlock. In addition, this group somehow acquired Cypher’s brain engrams. It is most likely that they removed all of the cells from Doug’s body that had been infected with the Transmode Virus. After Douglock regained his true memories and personality and again resumed his Warlock identity, he visited Doug’s grave and verified that his remains no longer bore any trace of the techno-organic virus. [Warlock (3rd series) #1]