CYPHER: Page 4 of 6

Publication Date: 18th May 2023


Despite the victory over the Animator, Doug still couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that something was wrong with him. He soon got some answers when the team encountered future versions of Cannonball and Karma, who had incorporated Warlock’s technology into their uniforms. The two had travelled back in time to prevent their own future from occurring, but they remained cagey about what exactly was wrong with it. Doug noticed that both visitors refused to look him in the eye, and his suspicions were confirmed when they lost control of the Warlock-tech covering their bodies. Doug was shocked when a future version of himself took over his two friends and assaulted the team. Calling himself “Truefriend,” the future Doug was a force to be reckoned with, having total command over the Warlock tech and even shifting the entire team into a separate pocket reality. Truefriend explained that he managed to take control of Warlock in his own timeline and use the TO virus to bring about a world peace where everyone was under his control.

Doug was taken aback that he would ever go down that path, declaring that he could stop it all from happening, now that he knew. Truefriend showed him that he was already too late, as it was the alien creature Doug had encountered weeks before which had triggered this change in him. The alien had rewritten his brain so he could speak the language of dimensions and, in doing so, it had broken Doug in ways he couldn’t understand. Now that the New Mutants knew of Truefriend’s existence they needed to be dealt with, but Doug was already coming up with a plan to save them. Linking minds with Nate Grey, Doug used Nate’s power in conjunction with his own ability to manipulate the TO virus and forcibly send Karma’s and Cannonball’s bodies back to their own time period, with the Truefriend along with them. The crisis had been temporarily averted, but Doug knew that, in order to stop himself from ever becoming Truefriend, he needed to purge the effects of the alien creature from his mind. [New Mutants (3rd series) #44-46]

It didn’t take long for Doug to figure out something was still wrong, as he noticed minor discrepancies in reality, leading him to realize that they were living in a warped timeline. Whilst the rest of the team tried to figure out a way to restore reality, Doug buried himself in various media, trying to figure out the exact point at which the timeline changed. He eventually discovered the world they were living in was a mash-up of timelines and had been artificially created by someone else. When Karma was killed in an accident shortly after, Doug took it hard, as he blamed himself for the situation the New Mutants had found themselves in. After a meeting with Doctor Strange, Doug sank deeper into depression and believed the only way to stop anyone else from getting hurt was to kill himself. Surprisingly, he was saved by his former adversaries the Hellions, who had been resurrected as techno-organic zombies. They stopped him from killing himself long enough for the Truefriend to reach back through time and take control of Doug’s body himself. Turning Doug’s body into a twisted amalgam of the alien creature and the TO virus, Truefriend continued his crusade to wipe out the New Mutants. He underestimated Doug’s strength, though, as Doug mentally fought back and took control of his own body long enough to beg for Moonstar to kill him. Using her Valkyrie powers, Dani stabbed Doug with a sword, killing him and Truefriend, resetting the timeline in the process.

Doug woke up to find himself back at Xavier’s school, with Karma alive once more and the world carrying on as if nothing had happened. Doctor Strange managed to purge the alien entity’s influence from his mind, ending the threat that Truefriend would ever be born. [New Mutants (3rd series) #47-49]

Just as the New Mutant’s began to relax, they were attacked by Tyro, a member of Warlock’s race who was struggling to deal with his abilities. Doug’s experience at rewriting the TO virus was key to helping Tyro take control once more. [New Mutants (3rd series) #50]

Even though Doug had triumphed over Truefriend, he still couldn’t shake the belief that he would someday turn into the crazed megalomaniac. He quit the New Mutants and moved to a remote cabin in the woods so he could be alone. The isolation didn’t do him any favors, as he constantly focused on what might be and he was plagued by nightmares of his encounter with the Truefriend. He finally snapped and decided to kill himself but, by pure coincidence, the newly formed X-Factor showed up on his doorstep looking for help. Warlock had apparently left the New Mutants shortly after Doug and reconnected with his father Magus. X-Factor had crossed swords with Magus recently and came to Doug for insight into why Warlock would be working alongside him. Doug explained to the team he hadn’t been in contact with Warlock, but the robotic Danger informed him that his friend had been keeping tabs on him via a small piece of TO circuitry in his heart. Before anyone could react, Danger grabbed Doug and surgically removed the device from him, leaving minimal damage except a shocked audience.

Doug was intrigued and helped X-Factor by using the device implanted in him to track Warlock down.  Doug and the team confronted the Magus and Warlock, discovering that the Technarchy had been mostly wiped out by a virus. Warlock informed Doug that he implanted a piece of himself in his friend as he was worried at Doug’s mental state and he wanted to keep track of him. The two friends made up again and, with nothing else better to do, decided to join X-Factor. [All-New X-Factor #5-6]

Not long after, Doug discovered a young girl called Georgia was in need of help from her father, Scott Dakei, a prominent anti-mutant spokesman. The team travelled to where Georgia was being kept and broke into her house, with the intention of extracting her for her own safety. However, when the team confronted Georgia, they found she didn’t want to leave, causing Cypher to drag her out forcibly. Georgia fought back and used her own mutant powers to drain all the moisture from his body, seemingly killing him. Unaware she was a mutant, Georgia didn’t realize she had done anything wrong, with X-Factor begging her to reverse what she did. The young girl relented and used her powers once more and restored the moisture in Cypher’s body, without any long-lasting effects. Upon seeing his daughter’s powers in action, Georgia’s father told X-Factor to take her away, as he didn’t want anything to do with her. [All-New X-Factor #7-8]

Doug soon became irritated with the fact Georgia seemed friendly with everyone else but remained cold and distant with him. She eventually explained that she blamed him for everything that had recently happened to her but, regardless of it all, she still thanked him from getting her out of an abusive household. [All-New X-Factor #9-12]

In a surprising turn of events, Cypher soon found himself in the middle of a love triangle with Danger and Warlock. Whilst his best friend had become smitten with Danger, the robotic woman decided she wanted to try out all types of intimacy and set her sights on Doug. One night, he woke to find Danger in his bed and the two became intimate. When morning came, however, he began to question what they had done. Knowing how Warlock felt about her, Doug asked Danger to keep their tryst quiet until he could figure out his own emotions. Naturally, the secret didn’t stay secret for long and Warlock found out, causing him to attack Cypher. Warlock eventually forgave Cypher for his betrayal, but only after slapping him across the face really hard as penance. [All-New X-Factor #18, 20]

X-Factor soon went their separate ways and Doug found himself on his own once more. Like many before him, he sought solace in the internet, only his powers to decipher and makes sense of things quickly became a problem. As the internet was an ever-expanding chaotic entity, Doug’s powers couldn’t keep up and he became addicted to sitting in front of a screen in the hopes of understanding everything. His situation became quite dire as he soon lost track of time, forgetting to wash, sleep and even eat. By chance, he was saved by the intervention of Daredevil, Misty Knight and an Inhuman named Frank. They had been tasked by Kitty Pryde with finding out who would have stolen Wolverine’s body and they sought out Doug for help. Shocked by the state they found him in, Frank shot the internet connection in Doug’s apartment, causing the young man to have a psychotic break and shoot back at the trio. Daredevil managed to knock him out and they took him to a restaurant to get some food and away time from the screens. It was obvious that Doug was addicted to being online, and so Daredevil only allowed him access to a smartphone for the purposes of finding out Wolverine’s location.  Cypher proved to be a useful resource as it took him no time at all to identify all recent sightings of Wolverine across the internet, giving the team a list of priority locations to search.

Upon investigating a secluded rangers’ stations in the woods, Cypher was ordered to stay on the group’s plane as he wasn’t as combat sufficient as the rest of them. Slave to his digital addiction, Cypher slipped off the plane and acquired the phone of a recent murder victim. As he browsed online, he was ambushed by Albert, a cybernetic clone of Wolverine, who proceeded to slash Doug’s throat. Daredevil and the others came back just in time to save his life, all whilst fighting Albert off. Cypher was saved by Frank’s Inhuman tech, but he was unable to talk for a while due to the damage to his throat. With Albert’s location being a red herring in the quest to find Wolverine, the team continued to search, giving Cypher brief moment of internet relief when they needed him to search social media. Whilst the group never found Wolverine themselves, they did gain enough information for Kitty to piece together the puzzle herself. Afterwards, Cypher finally admitted to Daredevil that he needed help with his internet addiction. [Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost #1-4]

Doug indeed managed to get his addiction under control and, when Daredevil met up with him a short while later, he was keeping himself busy by reading books. [Daredevil (1st series) #606]