CYPHER: Page 3 of 6

Publication Date: 18th May 2023


After Douglock was revealed to really be Warlock, everyone realized that Cypher was truly gone and they all began to move on with their lives. Doug remained dead for many years, but his peace was eventually disturbed by the unlikeliest of people. Selene, the Black Queen, was making her play to become an actual goddess and one of her minions, Eli Bard, had acquired a corrupted version of the techno-organic virus. Using the virus, Bard resurrected and enslaved many dead mutants for use in Selene’s army. Cypher was one of the very first mutants to be brought back and he found himself at odds with his new living status. He was grouped with the resurrected Hellions, and sent to attack his former teammates, the New Mutants, as a way for Selene to extract some petty revenge on Emma Frost.

Whilst many of the resurrected mutants retained their personalities, Doug struggled with his newfound life and the fact his every action was being controlled by Bard. The TO virus had seemingly altered his powers too, as his translation ability allowed him to interface with computers and manipulate the binary language. Doug led the Hellions onto the X-Men’s island base of Utopia, using his abilities to bypass the electronic security systems. As the Hellions went to hunt the rest of the New Mutants, Cypher had been personally tasked with taking out Magma on Selene’s behalf. As he stalked his former team, waiting for Magma to split off from them, his mind was intruded upon by Warlock. As Doug’s body now contained the TO virus, Warlock was able to mentally connect with his former friend, despite being far from Utopia. Doug was caught off-guard and tried to initiate a reboot of his systems, but it was too late and Warlock was homing in on him, looking to save him.

Despite gaining a brief moment of clarity, Bard’s control took back over and Doug continued to stalk Magma. She soon went off to her own room, where Doug approached her and beat her unconscious with a bat. Dragging her body to the rest of his former team, he threw her on the floor, causing the New Mutants to attack him. Cypher used his powers in ways he had never done before, translating movement and body language as easily as he had done with written and spoken words. The New Mutants were barely able to touch him as he was able to predict how each one would attack him and formulate a counter before they even reached him. He looked to be winning until Karma mentally possessed the whole team and they became erratic, throwing him off-guard. He was briefly knocked out but was saved, thanks to the timely arrival of Warlock, who attempted to purge the TO virus from his system. Bard’s corrupted virus was more than Warlock could handle, causing Doug to wake up. Cypher turned his malicious code on Warlock, infecting his former friend up to the point that he was seemingly dead.

Cypher turned back on the New Mutants, but Warlock’s attempt to save him begun to pay off, as Doug was now wrestling against a newer, cleaner TO virus within him. The Hellion’s arrived, looking to take Doug back to be rebooted, as his mind struggled between Bard’s and Warlock’s conflicting viruses. Warlock himself had survived, albeit severely weakened. Making his way to Doug, he borrowed Magik’s soulsword and used it to purge Bard’s virus from Cypher’s system. As Doug lay on the ground, he looked around at the New Mutants and finally felt free for the first time since he had been resurrected. [X-Necrosha #1, X-Force (3rd series) #20, New Mutants (3rd series) #6-8] 

Given recent events, Doug was put under observation before the rest of the X-Men could determine if Selene’s influence was truly gone from him. He explained to them that his powers allowed him to take control of the TO virus within him and reduce its influence till it was almost undetectable. He was allowed to walk free on the island but, when he went to meet with Magma, he was met with a hostile reception. The two soon made amends when he spoke in a new language he created just for her. [New Mutants (3rd series) #9]

The world had changed a lot in the years Doug was gone, with most of the world’s mutants losing their powers on M-day. The only mutant born since then was Hope Summers, who had been sent to the future to be raised by Cable, away from the enemies who sought her dead. When Cable and the now adolescent Hope returned to the present, there was a mad scramble by the X-Men to find them before anyone else did. The robotic Bastion had also been preparing for Hope’s return and had amassed an army to kill her and wipe out the X-Men. Whilst one team of mutants sought out Hope, Cypher and the New Mutants infiltrated a weapons base run by Cameron Hodge, one of Bastion’s minions. Doug was able to access the computer systems in the base and learn a lot of information about Bastion’s plans, but the team ran into trouble when Hodge realized they were there. The team was in grave danger and so Cypher convinced Warlock to go against his beliefs by draining the life force of Hodge and his soldiers. The plan worked and Hodge was killed, but Warlock was overcome with guilt, despite Cypher trying to tell him it was the only way they could have survived.

Hope and Cable soon returned to Utopia, forcing Bastion to go to his plan B in a bid to kill Hope. Encasing the whole of Utopia in an impenetrable dome, Bastion then opened a portal to the future, allowing an endless supply of deadly Nimrod units to pass through to attack the X-Men. With his back against the wall, Cyclops devised a plan that involved sending Cypher through the portal to shut down the Nimrods from the future. Knowing that it was a likely one-way trip, Cypher travelled to the future, accompanied by X-Force for protection. The team broke into the Nimrod-producing factory, where Cypher interfaced with the main computer.

He was able to over-write the systems with his own code, causing the Nimrods across both time periods to blow up, putting an end to Bastion’s endless army. Thanks to Cable sacrificing his life, Cypher and the rest of X-Force made it back to the present in time to witness Hope obliterate Bastion and his remaining forces. [Second Coming crossover]

After the war with Bastion was over, Warlock decided to purge the energy he stole from Hodge as he felt guilty. Knowing that this was a symbolic event for Warlock, Doug made sure to stay and watch the whole thing to ensure the burden was eased for his friend. [New Mutants (3rd series) #15]

A few months after Cypher’s death many years before, the New Mutants had taken part in saving New York from being plunged into an “Inferno,” by an invasion of demons from Limbo. Part of the plot had involved numerous mutant babies to be used during a spell but, once the invasion was thwarted, the newborns were handed over to authorities without any further questions. This lack of follow-up came back to haunt the New Mutants, Doug now included. As it turned out, the government had sent the babies to a military base built in Limbo and, due to the different rates of time between Earth and that dimension, the babies were now young adults. Furious at what had become of their lives, the "Inferno Babies" now intended to unleash the wrath of the Elder Gods on the Earth that had abandoned them. They attacked the New Mutants, with Doug being captured by a woman named Trista, who had the power to twist words and compel people to do her bidding. Unable to break free of her, Doug was helpless to be only her slave as the rest of the New Mutants were tortured. Trista had found a strange, musical device that could literally play magic, and so she made Cypher use it for her own pleasure. Unbeknownst to her, Doug was learning the whole time and he used the device to cast a spell to remove Trista’s mouth and break the hold she had over him. The rest of the New Mutants also broke free and, together with the X-Men, put a stop to the threat of the Elder Gods. [New Mutants (3rd series) #16-21]

After the Limbo incident, Magik and Cannonball left the team, causing Cyclops to give Cypher and the remaining members a new objective of mopping up the X-Men’s unfinished business. On their first mission of locating the recently resurrected Nate Grey, Cypher’s newly expanded powers helped the team find the man. Nate had been captured by the Sugar Man and trapped within a pocket of warped reality, but Cypher’s ability to spot patterns and discrepancies helped the team find and rescue Nate before any harm could come to him. [New Mutants (3rd series) #25-27]

When the Serpent, the Asgardian God of Fear, was unleashed on Earth, Moonstar was forcibly taken to Hel, the Asgardian realm of the dead. Her status as an honorary Valkyrie made her an important weapon in the war, and the rest of the New Mutants attempted to track her down to help. Upon guidance from Magik, Cypher believed he would be able to use his linguistic abilities to cast a spell to take them to Hel. His confidence got the better of him and a wrong syllable spoken at the wrong time caused the team to be transported to Hell, the Anglo-Christian realm of the afterlife. Doug was unable to remember the spell to get them out, forcing Magma to agree to go on a date with Mephisto, in return for his help. Mephisto teleported the team to Hel, and they found Dani in the midst of a battle with the Draumar, some of the Serpent’s undead forces. Cypher was feeling guilty that his error caused Magma to make a deal with the devil, but she tried to assure him she knew what she was doing. With a power upgrade from Hela, the Asgardian goddess of death, Cypher and the New Mutants managed to defeat the Draumar and return home to Utopia. [New Mutants (3rd series) #29-32]

The New Mutants’ next mission involved them finding Blink but, when they tracked her down, they found she was on her own mission to stop a music band that seemingly caused natural disasters everywhere they played. Whilst the rest of the team dealt with the chaos at one of the concerts, Cypher tried to find the source of the band’s power and discovered a mysterious box on the band’s tour bus. Upon opening it, Doug found an inter-dimensional alien creature, which reached out mentally to him and showed him its history. The alien radiated chaos energy and, unbeknownst to Doug, it began to have an effect on his mind that would have long term, dangerous consequences. Doug managed to relay information to the rest of his team, who took the alien off-world, putting an end to the damage it was inadvertently causing on Earth. [New Mutants (3rd series) #33-36]

The encounter with the alien triggered something in Doug and he began to sink into a depressive, restless state. Ever since he had been brought back to life, he was struggling to make emotional connections to anyone, and he was starting to have nightmares over his concerns. He even admitted to himself that he was in love with Moonstar, but was unable to express how he felt, something that alarmed the linguist part of him. After a particularly vivid dream involving the Animator, Doug decided he needed to return to where he died in a bid to get some closure on the situation. The team travelled to Paradise Island but, when they landed, they found it had changed significantly since they were last there. There was no sign of the Ani-Mates, and all the vegetation was moldy and decomposing. After being attacked by a feral Bird-Brain, Warlock declared that everyone on the island was infected with a virus that was slowly killing them. The team made it to an abandoned lab, where Doug accessed the computers to discover the Animator had attempted to create a personality back-up in virus form. The virus was now loose on the island, breaking down the organic material and reforming it into the Animator’s form.

Doug’s worst fears were realized when a creature resembling the Animator broke into the lab and attacked them. Paralyzed by fear, Doug was helpless to watch as the Animator grabbed the rest of his team and began to absorb them into his body. Terrified that he would die again, Doug called out to Warlock, and his friend responded by merging his TO form with Doug. Whilst “Douglock” fought the Animator in the real world, Doug was able to retreat to his mindscape thanks to Warlock’s help, and he saw how much his mind had grown since he had been brought back. With Warlock’s encouragement, Doug was able to come up with a way of re-programming the Animator’s virus to make it benign, putting a swift end to the infection on the island. Doug had confronted his greatest fear and won, saving Bird-Brain and the rest of the Ani-Mates in the process. [New Mutants (3rd series) #37-40]