The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
of the New Mutants
Doug Ramsey is the mutant super-hero better known as "Cypher." He was a member of the New Mutants when he died tragically and heroically in battle.
The Ultimate X-Men version of Doug Ramsey is explicitly based partially on famed Latter-day Saint Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings. When "Ultimate Cypher" was introduced, he was (like Jennings) a slightly geeky but amiable computer programmer who gained national prominence by winning over 100 consecutive games on the TV gameshow Jeopardy. The original Doug Ramsey character who appeared in Uncanny X-Men and The New Mutants appears to have been been based on a vaguely Mormon character template as well. Some comic book readers have compared Doug Ramsey, a young white upstate New Yorker with a mutant talent for translating languages, to another young white upstate New Yorker who claimed a miraculous ability to translate languages: Joseph Smith, Jr. Regardless of the extent (if any) to which the original Douglas Aaron Ramsey was envisioned as a Latter-day Saint character when first created by Chris Claremont and Sal Buscema, it has been acknowledged in print that the Ultimate version of the character was based on the Mormon Jeopardy champ.
From: Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, "Beliefwatch: Good Fight", published in Newsweek, 19 June 2006 issue (posted online on 12 June 2006: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/; simultaneously posted on BeliefNet.com under headline "Holy Superheroes": http://www.beliefnet.com/story/193/story_19306_1.html; viewed 14 June 2006):
..."X-Men"'s Rogue is Southern Baptist, Cypher from "New Mutants" is a Mormon and Elektra from "Daredevil" is Greek Orthodox. Captain America is a churchgoer, and Spider-Man sometimes addresses God in spontaneous prayer.
Cypher's religious affiliation was mentioned in Newsweek. (Steven Waldman and Michael Kress, "BeliefWatch: Good Fight", published in Newseek, cover-dated 19 June 2006, page 12):
From: Lynn Arave, "Superhero/ Super savior? Religious imagery plentiful; local leaders worry about Superman's morals", published 8 July 2006 in Deseret Morning News (http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,640192870,00.html; viewed 15 May 2007):
The June 19, 2006, issue of Newsweek contained a list of the "suspected" religions of superheroes... Newsweek also listed Spider-Man as a Protestant, The Thing as Jewish, The Hulk as a lapsed Catholic, Daredevil as a Catholic, Batman as a lapsed Catholic or disaffected Episcopalian and Captain America as a Protestant.
The lone superhero believed to be Mormon was the late Cypher of the New Mutants, who was a master translator of any language.
The Newsweek article is online at www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13249146/site/newsweek/.
From: "Religion of the X-Men" message board started 15 May 2005 on Comic Book Resources website (http://forums.comicbookresources.com/archive/index.php/t-58362.html; viewed 13 June 2006):
05-15-2005, 05:56 PM
Do you ever wonder what religion an X-Man is? I know they are just characters, but still, just for the fun of it.
I am wondering if you could guess their religion by their character, or what they've said, etc.
The Lucky One
05-15-2005, 07:38 PM
...As for [other] characters...
Jean Grey - some branch of Christianity...
Archangel - Protestant
Havok - Catholic, apparently
Nightcrawler - Catholic, devout
Colossus, Magik - atheist (or now perhaps simply agnostic)
Storm - pagan
Wolverine - atheist (but has been to Heaven...)
Kitty Pryde, Sabra - Jewish
Cannonball - Southern Baptist
Karma, Sunspot - Catholic
Wolfsbane - Scots Presbyterian
Mirage - Cheyenne, plus some Asgard, presumably
Magma - Roman-Greco gods
Cypher - Some branch of Christianity
05-16-2005, 02:11 AM
The problem is that whether they are strongly religious or not.
While some like Nightcrawler, Storm and Sabra are obvious to their beliefs and faith, there are many that I don't think I've ever seen mention their beliefs or gone to church. Angel, Cypher and Havok...
From: Alea, "Patron Mutant of Linguists", posted 19 September 2006 on "All My Gettings" blog website (http://allmygettings.blogspot.com/2006/09/patron-mutant-of-linguists.html; viewed 6 June 2007):
So, there is a mutant (of the X-Men variety) named Cypher. He was killed off when first introduced but has later been brought back in a slightly different setting. I haven't read any of his comics, but it's pretty obvious why he got killed off in the first place. He has one of the lamest mutant powers EVER. According the Marvel Directory [link to: http://www.marveldirectory.com/individuals/c/cypher.htm]:
Cypher was a mutant with a superhuman facility for translating languages, spoken or written, human or alien in origin.
How, exactly does that help in battles? Especially when coupled with the knowledge that "Cypher possessed the normal human strength of a young man of his age, height, and build who engaged in regular physical exercise." I mean, the following were the best I could come up with (if you imagine them in a British accent, they just get better. Sadly, Doug Ramsey is from Upstate New York.):
"You seem to have shot flames from your hands at me. In retort, I will now insult you in Classical Latin."
"Well, you may be able to fly and lift large boulders, but I can read Tocharian B!"
"Yes, Magneto, you may have just wiped all the computers in a 20 mile radius of all their programs. But the joke's on you! I can just reprogram them with my super-C++ skills."
I would feel like I've got the seriously short end of the genetic stick if I were him. Don't you think the other mutants would pick on him? I guess it's somewhat explained that he didn't know that the others living in Xavier's mansion were mutants. Really? I mean, how do you miss something like that? Didn't the freakish acts of strength, odd abilities and general superhumanity of the atmosphere give it away?
Cypher, we are told, is a Mormon (see adherents.com [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/Cypher.html]). My first thought upon learning this was: Is crime fighting one of those situations in which it is ok to remove garments? I then it came to me that the real questions to ask are, Does he even wear garments, i.e. Can you be an active Latter-day Saint and a superhuman crime fighter? What are the theological implications of such divisions in the children of God? Discuss.
Apparently, he gained his faith when he was reincarnated as Ultimate Cypher. Now, here's where it gets really bizarre. Said reanimation is based on Ken Jennings. Yeah, the Jeopardy guy and poster boy for Mormon geeks and geeks of other faiths. I think that's the real definition of celebrity: you get a superhero (regardless of his lameness) created based on your life. The fact that he is from Upstate New York and has a knack for languages has led him to be compared to another boy from that area known as a translator (I think it goes without saying who I mean here).
And here's where we have a perfect example of some well-intentioned members/comic fans doing a bit too much likening the scriptures and finding types. All we need now is for someone to point out chiasmus in Cypher's monologues and really seal the deal.
From: "MSNBC talks religion of superheroes" forum discussion started 15 June 2006 on BKV.TV website (http://www.bkv.tv/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=117679&sid=4ea823f1318d399750740ae4287a02f5; viewed 6 June 2007):
Brian K. Vaughan
Posted: Thu Jun 15, 2006 12:22 pm
MSNBC talks religion of superheroes
Also references this page: http://www.beliefnet.com/features/comicbookfaith.html
[responding to Newsweek/MSNBC article posted at beginning of forum discussion: Hunter's site says "X-Men"'s Rogue is Southern Baptist, Cypher from "New Mutants" is a Mormon and Elektra from "Daredevil" is Greek Orthodox.]
Since when is Doug Ramsey a Mormon?
Posted: Fri Jun 16, 2006 8:44 am
According to Wikipedia (My New Mutants knowledge is extremely limited), the Ultimate version of Cypher is based on Ken Jennings, the Mormon Jeopardy champion. Methinks Newsweek/MSNBC needs to straighten out its universes.
From: Visconde Carlo Vergara, "The Faith of Heroes (Superhero Religious Trivia)", posted 14 May 2006 on "Carver's House" blog website (http://carverhouse.blogspot.com/2006/05/sony-buys-us-rights-to-iranian-comic.html; viewed 15 May 2007):
What do Havok, Polaris and Banshee have in common aside from being mutants and affiliated with the X-Men? According to an article on Adherents.com, the three are Catholics.
The article also reveals the juvenile heroes of Power Pack as well as Cypher of the New Mutants as being Mormons (Latter-Day Saints). Rogue is Southern Baptist, Multiple Man is Buddhist, and the Thing is Jewish (as opposed to Human Torch and Invisible Woman, who are Episcopalian). The site also cites the comics issues where the religious affiliations were suggested or revealed.
More heroes are presented in a table on this page [link to: http://adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_book_religion.html]. If you want pictures, look through this other page [link to: http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/comic_collage.html].
From: "Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Characters" forum discussion, started 10 March 2007 on "Brian Michael Bendis" part of "Comic Creator Boards" section of "Jinxworld Forums" website (http://www.606studios.com/bendisboard/archive/index.php/t-106242.html; viewed 6 June 2007):
Webpage created 13 June 2006. Last modified 6 June 2007.
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