Cypher (Douglas "Doug" Ramsey) is a fictional mutant character, a superhero from Marvel Comics. He first appeared in New Mutants vol. 1 #13 (March 1984).
Fictional character biography
was born to Philip and Sheila Ramsey. Doug was a teenage friend of Kitty Pryde
who she met after she moved to Westchester County to join Charles Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters. They hit it off when they discovered a shared interest in video games, computers and computer technology. Kitty's talent for building hardware providing the perfect complement to his skill at writing the software to run the hardware.
Professor X had suspected Doug possessed a mutant power, probably connected with communications, but had not approached him to join the school, perhaps feeling a passive power might go unnoticed. Doug's initial ignorance of the X-Men's activities causes some problems when he was offered a scholarship at Emma Frost's Massachusetts Academy. He does not understand that she, at the time, is one of the X-Men's adversaries. This led to Kitty Pryde (who accompanied him as a friend on his first trip to the Academy) being captured, only to be rescued by the New Mutants. Though his memory of the mutant related events was wiped by Frost, for reasons not elaborated on he did not accept the scholarship.
Doug became a member of the New Mutants after the arrival of the techno-organic alien Warlock. He was literally pulled out of bed and informed of the true nature of Xavier's students when the New Mutants needed his power to establish communication with the confused alien. With Doug's pre-inclination for technology, and being more readily able to understand Warlock than most others, the two of them became fast friends.
Whereas Warlock referred to his teammates with the prefix "selfriend", eventually, after saving his life by offering to share some of his own life energy with Warlock, Warlock gave Doug the unique identifier of "Selfsoulfriend".
Doug's inborn mutant power was the ability to intuitively understand and translate any form of communication, be it written, spoken or non-verbal, and regardless of whether the origin of the language was human, computer or even completely alien. His power was not related to his intellect, but allowed him to make leaps of comprehension that he could probably not explain to anyone else, but which were invariably accurate. He was able to translate the language of a long dead species, without any common terms of reference, within a matter of hours.
Despite the fact his power was entirely harmless (being both mental and passive), and his parents were shown as a happy loving couple, Doug was the only one of the original New Mutants who never did tell his parents he was a mutant. He was worried that they might reject him for being a mutant of any sort, and it was too great a risk to him.
It has been suggested that the character of "Philip Ramsey", a high-ranking member of the "Friends of Humanity" introduced in the X-Men graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills, was originally intended to be Doug's father (whose name was eventually revealed to be Philip), but this was dropped, presumably in order to emphasize the fact that Doug was a normal kid from a normal background, who was simply scared of his normal parents' rejection, without the need for the added pathos of "my father works for a group that wants to eradicate me".
His power made him a master of computer languages, since any software language was effectively instantly within his grasp. An established hacker before joining the team, he became the team's computer expert and "go to" guy for research and information, and wrote many programs for use in the X-Men's training area, the Danger Room.
Despite his abilities having saved the day many times (including the entire Earth), Doug suffered from feelings of uselessness. In times of danger, Warlock would willingly encapsulate him, which made him feel even more worthless. This was not helped during an unwitting trip to Asgard, where he was defeated in combat by a waitress in service to a local lord.
Later, he and Warlock found that they could merge their physicality to create a being which looked like Doug but was composed of Warlock's substance and their personae were merged. This allowed full access to both their powers, but meant Doug ran a severe risk of irreversible infection with the Transmode virus, which would have turned him into a being like Warlock.
Cypher used his abilities to discover a means of saving Lila Cheney's Dyson Sphere home base from destruction.
Romances and Death
Though he flirted with Kitty Pryde and may indeed have loved her, it was not reciprocated (Kitty had just broken up with Colossus
and was sort of on the rebound) but they remained close friends. He was involved in the rescue of Betsy Braddock -- Psylocke
of the X-Men, for whom he had deep feelings -- from the clutches of Mojo
.. This involved venturing deep into Psylocke's mind, literally rescuing her psyche from being torn apart by Spiral. The shared experience, including the after-affects, where Betsy admits to Douglas that she wants to tear out her Mojo given eyes but cannot, causes a deep emotional bond between the two. Naturally, Douglas feels awkward. After Betsy is safe and sound, she ponders the situation; "Douglas is watching. My 'guardian angel'. How much he cares..more then he realizes. How much I care...in return." Later, Doug starts a relationship with teammate Rahne Sinclair, Wolfsbane
, which lasted until his death.
Alongside the other New Mutants, Doug temporarily joined the Hellions. When the Magus attacked, Doug reprogrammed the Magus to an infant state.
When the entity Bird-Brain was rescued, Doug became jealous of Rahne's new affection for him. He ended up lying, stating that Bird-Brain's language was impossible to translate, though he soon relented. They soon learned of Bird-Brain's enslaved friends. They traveled to an island controlled by the Ani-Mator, a minion of Cameron Hodge. Facing defeat, the villain pulled a gun. Doug died while saving Rahne Sinclair's life.
Magneto, the current leader of the New Mutants, explained Doug's death to his parents as a 'hunting' accident'. Warlock did not take all this well, even going so far as to steal Doug's body in a confused attempt to 'reanimate' it. Eventually the New Mutants convinced him to return the body.
Doug's ghost later appears to Wolfsbane when she visits his grave in the cemetery.
Later, Warlock dies, murdered by Cameron Hodge, and his ashes were scattered upon Doug's grave by the request of Wolfsbane. Eventually the alien Phalanx, a corrupt subset of the more powerful alien race known as the Technarchy (Warlock's native race), resurrect Warlock with Doug's memories and appearance, intending to use him as a "Trojan horse" to infiltrate the X-Men. This gestalt entity, called Douglock, joined Excalibur for a time, soon breaking free of the Phalanx's programming.
Unaware of his real identity as Warlock, "Douglock" believed himself to be a new entity based on the "genetic and mental engrams" of Cypher and Warlock. This new entity even had another relationship with Wolfsbane. He became a valued part of Excalibur, and even a mentor to Meggan, who needed further basic schooling.
After Excalibur disbands, Warlock's personality resurfaced, but he found that he had changed. He speaks more normally than he originally did, and maintains a more traditionally humanoid form. Warlock maintains a copy of Doug's memory, but his personality is not active.
The true Doug Ramsey remains deceased.
A new character in the ongoing series Young X-Men
, mentions a "Cypher" twice. The first is when he is alone the air ducts inside of the Danger Cave
. He mentions that he is "not the only one that can help them. There is Cypher. The second time is when he tells Donald Pierce
, who was disguised as Cyclops, that "Cypher told [him] everything.
Powers and abilities
Cypher was a mutant
who possessed a superhuman intuitive facility for translating languages, whether written or spoken, human or alien. This ability also extended to deciphering codes and computer languages
Cypher was an expert in translating and design of computer software. He took university level courses in languages and computer science.
"Age of Apocalypse"
In the Age of Apocalypse
crossover, Doug Ramsey is the adopted son of Destiny
and lives in Avalon. His "translation field" allows everyone in Avalon
to understand each other, no matter what language they speak. He is killed when he jumps in front of Destiny to protect her from the Shadow King
's last desperate attack.
Days of Future Present
In the Days of Future Present
annual crossover, which showed aspects of the alternate future
known as Days of Future Past
, a new incarnation of the New Mutants was seen, whose membership included Doug Ramsey. This revived version of Doug was human looking on his right side, but his left side was techno-organic and constantly shifted into battle configurations with weapons bristling all over. Aggressive and violent, he was described as being nigh insane when angered. He also only responded to the name "Magus", seemingly confirming Warlock's fears that if infected by the transmode virus after merging into Douglock one time too many, Doug might take on the warlike aspects of the Technarch species.
The reality-hopping Exiles
once visited a world where Doug Ramsey was infected by the Legacy Virus
. Trying to save Ramsey's life, Warlock bonded with him, combining their life forces into one. Once the virus was introduced to Warlocks unique physiology, it mutated and became even more contagious. With over half the world infected by this new technological virus (called Vi-Locks), Doug Ramsey was kept in stasis. He was killed by one of the infected, once it found out the Exiles were trying to create a cure based on Ramsey's original strain of the virus.
In Peter David
's graphic novel Rahne of Terra
there exist a sword and sorcery version of the New Mutants and X-Men, with the likes of Sam "Cannonball" Guthrie being a knight who uses seven league boots
to fly (and a rifle called "Cannonball" as a weapon). Here, Rain (an alt-version of Rahne Wolfsbane
Sinclair) is the Princess of the realm of Geshem, and Doug is a commoner, a nobody whose mother is a washerwoman. However, he loves Rain from afar, and it is partly through his unexpected courage and a magic spell that the mainstream Rahne Sinclair, who has replaced Rain, survives. The thought of Doug being killed again is enough to trigger her use of the magic of Geshem and her mutant powers to protect him. The story ends with Rain now restored to her own world, and noticing Doug for the first time, clearly being attracted to him.
In the sequel "Knight of Terra" Rahne pays a return visit to Geshem, and discovers that in that world, Doug and Rain are now married and expecting their first child. However, after an attack by a sorcerer who used animated suits of armor, Doug is injured. He is healed by replacing at least one of his arms with some of the magically animated armor, a reference to Douglock, the part-Phalanx being who was a member of Excalibur.
"House of M"
Ramsey appears alive and well and older in the Scarlet Witch
's reality warp known as the House of M
. He was a staff member alongside Karma
and Sean Garrison
at the New Mutant Leadership Institute
who were training young mutants. Both he and Karma discover Garrison and his daughter Wallflower
's secret affiliations with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Emperor Sunfire. Garrison corners them and subdues Doug and Karma with fear pheromones and plans to kill them until Tag
stops him with his powers and unintentionally causes him to commit suicide.
During the Shattershot
Annual crossover, an alternate future is shown, where Warlock renamed himself Cyberlock. He retained all his memories but had a very serious, emotionless personality. He was part of an X-Force team that helped Shatterstar back to his home dimension and then helped him become a sort of benevolent dictator, replacing Mojo
V as Cable
wished. To this end, a new X-Force team, consisting of Cannonball
, Warlock, Darkchild
(Illyana Rasputin), Sunspot
, and Powerpax (Francine Power) returned to Shatterstar's dimension. Assisted by the spineless ones and the geneticist, Arize, they overthrow Shatterstar, who had begun doing what Mojo's I through V had done, creating a world based on the entertainment of killing the opposite race. Shatterstar, who had been having doubts concerning his leadership, joined in the overthrowing of his own dimension, and, apparently, joined the bipeds and spineless ones in peace. X-Force apparently returned to Earth.
The Ultimate X-Men
version of Doug Ramsey appeared when "Ultimate Cypher" was introduced, though he never used the codename — he is a super-intelligent, slightly geeky but amicable computer programmer who gained national prominence by winning over 100 consecutive games on the TV game show Jeopardy
Douglas is a student at Emma Frost's Academy of Tomorrow. In this version he is specifically mentioned as being a human, not a mutant, but Frost's school does not distinguish between different varieties of "gifted".
Douglas was instrumental in helping free Lorna Dane from prison. Traffic camera footage of Dane's apparent magnetically-induced murder of several people had been reviewed time and again to no avail. Douglas decides to review the tapes from three days ago and gains the information to clear Lorna's name.
Doug also appears in a short story in the back of Ultimate X-Men #75.
In an issue that asks "What If the X-Men Had Stayed in Asgard," Cypher became a scholar by reading/translating long-forgotten Asgardian text. He later became Storm's vizier after she is crowned Queen of Asgard.
- A second character known as Cypher appeared in Sabretooth and Mystique #1 and was a member of A.I.M.. She has cybernetics that augment her strength and intelligence and can unfold into lethal constricting tendrils. She can also link with computerized systems. She has no links to the original Cypher.
- It is worth noting that Cypher and Warlock were the only New Mutants who were never seen as adults (either in any of the potential futures which the New Mutants visited via their time traveling team-mate Magik, or via any other means such as being aged to adulthood by the villain Template) while Doug was alive. Any appearance of Doug in the future or as an adult only took place after his death. This might indicate that he and Warlock were never intended to survive, even by their creator Chris Claremont, or that they were planned to leave Earth at some point so they were no longer part of the X-Men universe.