For my next choice I pick two characters who are completely different from each other but together became one of the best super hero tandems ever. I’m talking about Cypher and Warlock from the New Mutants.
At first glance, they aren’t necessarily the most exciting characters. Cypher was a nerdy friend of Kitty Pryde’s and it was eventually revealed that he had a fairly non-threatening mutant power: the ability to comprehend, speak and interpret any form of communication. Warlock is a techno-organic mutant from a far off alien home world. Needless to say, the two wound up as students at the Charles Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters and eventually as members of the New Mutants team.
The two became inseparable and soon were best friends. Thanks to Cypher sharing his own life’s energy to save Warlock, they even share memories. Needles to say, Warlock had an extremely difficult time dealing with Cypher’s death. The alien robot wound up being killed by Cameron Hodge during the X-Tinction Agenda storyline.
Like they say, death in comics is only a relative condition and a hybrid Warlock/Dough Ramsey (Cypher’s civilian identity) showed up called Douglock. This reincarnated character looked like a techno-organic recreation of Cypher, but had both character’s memories. Eventually it was revealed that Douglock was really just Warlock having rebooted himself from Doug’s memories. Once Warlock was aware of that, he deactivated the copy of his fallen friend’s memories. Eventually Cypher was resurrected and Warlock (along with the rest of the now adult New Mutants) was able to break him from the evil Selene’s control.
Warlock and Cypher are just two great characters because of their friendship. The fact that we’ve been reading it about it for almost thirty years only adds to its awesomeness.
This might be one of the most depressing comics I’ve ever read. You wouldn’t know that from the cover that it would be about overcoming feelings of loss.
This takes place during the X-Men crossover Fall of the Mutants. The team is back at the X-Mansion dealing with the recent death of Cypher, which was admittedly their fault. The group had went out on their own, defying the orders of Magneto. At that point, he had been serving as their mentor as Professor X had vanished. There’s a lot of name calling and crying among the group about what had happen. This feeling of grief is only escalated, as they find out that the X-Men are seemingly dead, which Magik takes really hard since among the casualties are her brother Colossus.
Before anyone can completely process what this news, Magneto returns and is irate about Cypher’s death. The rest of the issue is devoted to the characters trying to resolve these feelings about what had happened. Magneto is struggling with the fact that the New Mutants feel no connection to him as their leader. The New Mutants struggle about their role of being teenagers thrust into a really adult situation, having the heavy burden of protecting the world and working to achieve Charles Xavier’s dream of a safer society for man and mutant alike. Unfortunately for them, they have to accept that responsibility, and Magneto has no jurisdiction on that.
This is one of Louise Simonson’s most shining moments as a writer. Each character, from Magneto to Wolfsbane to Magik all are able to express a distinct set of emotions on Cypher’s passing without any rehashing. It’s a great example of how super hero comics can tell a compelling story without having any action whatsoever.
It’s kind of easy to see how Cypher wound up on the short end of the stick in New Mutants.
Everyone else has some sort of cool power, but he gets saddle with the mutant ability to speak and communicate in any language. Like that’s going to help pick up chicks.
New Mutants Annual #2 is Cypher’s time to shine. This annual is a fun story by Chris Claremont and Alan Davis which has some historical significance, as it’s the first appearance of telepath-turned-martial arts expert Psylocke in the Marvel Universe. Technically, she had been around for a while in the Marvel UK Captain Britain comics but this was her proper introduction.
So how does Cypher–along with his best friend, the technarcic Warlock wind up saving the day? The plot was a little confusing, so bare with me.
In short, Mojo has kidnapped Psylocke in order to use here telepathic abilities in an effort to take over the planet. After failing to rescue his sister, Captain Britain is de-aged. The New Mutants are incapacitated. It’s up to Cypher to free Pyslocke.
Claremont does a good job of making the character likable as he grows in confidence through the story. The friendship between Cypher and Warlock is very natural, so its only appropriate that the two literally merge to stop Mojo.
There was a bit of an odd plotline towards the end of the story, with Psylocke being awkwardly flirty towards her teenaged savior.
See, it’s not so bad to be Cypher