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The X-Men Equivalent of Fans Calling in to Kill Jason Todd

Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.

Earlier this week, I was on Comic Book Club Live and co-host Alex Zalben noted how happy he was to see Cypher appearing in Charles Soule and Matteo Buffagni's Hunt For Wolverine: Weapon Lost series. That reminded me of an amusing story about how it came to be that Cypher was killed off in the pages of New Mutants. So I figured I'd share said story (I referenced this in an old Comic Book Legends Revealed from literally over a decade ago, but it was actually in a different context, debunking a different rumor about why Cypher was killed off).

Cypher's story began in, appropriately enough, New Mutants, specifically New Mutants #13 (by Chris Claremont, Sal Buscema and Tom Mandrake), where we meet Kitty Pryde's new computer buddy, Doug Ramsey...

You have to love Doug's adorable hacking outfit. It's like if Alex P. Keaton was a computer hacker!

New Mutants #13 was also the issue where Kitty and the New Mutants have a little bit of a rift between them going back to Kitty's "Professor X is a jerk!" tirade from a year earlier when he suggested putting her with the New Mutants.

So anyhow, Doug is soon Kitty's regular pal in the pages of Uncanny X-Men, like in Uncanny X-Men #180 (by Chis Claremont, John Romita Jr. and Dan Green)...

Colossus, meanwhile, is all, "Oh man, this is bogus, my 14 year old girlfriend has a 14 year old guy friend now, I'm never going to get her to continue to be interested in our age inappropriate relationship any more! He knows computers and everything!"

Kitty goes along with Doug on a trip to Emma Frost's Massaschhuessts Academy, which had human students mixed in with some hidden mutant students, as well. This, of course, turns out to be a trap for Kitty Pryde, as Emma knew that Kitty was pals with Doug and would travel with him. It was Kitty'd bad luck that this took place during Secret Wars, so the X-Men were not around to help save her.

Luckily, the New Mutants save her and Doug is none the wiser that they were ever in any danger.

Of course, this being the X-Men and, particularly, this being Chris Claremont, Doug turns out to be a mutant, as well!!

In New Mutants #21 (by Chris Claremont and Bill Sienkiewicz), the team reveals their mutant identities to Doug and also tell him that HE's a mutant, as they need him to communicate with the technological life form that they just met named Warlock. Doug handles it relatively well, to be frank...

Within a few issues, Doug is just part of the team...

The problem was, though, that Doug's ability to understand any language (including computer languages) was something that work pretty darn well in today's highly digital age, but back in the mid-1980s, it was seen as a bit of an esoteric power and it was definitely not something that was very VISUAL, so very often, they would have Doug merge with Warlock to form a sort of "Douglock" being with more powers, like in this bit from New Mutants Annual #2...

Note that in that issue, he had a bit of an age inappropriate relationship of his own with Psylocke. Anyhow, the key thing, though, was that due to his esoteric (for the time) power and his lack of a very strong visual, fans HATED him. They disliked him so much that Louise Simonson, who took over as the writer on New Mutants from Chris Claremont, did something drastic...

Page 2: Poor Doug

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