Why Doug Ramsey Was Awesome Pt 1
Inspired by proteus_lives recent post here I've dug out the posts from old s_d detailing the start of the more... well, BREATHING, side of Doug Ramsey's career;
Now, those of us of a certain age know the might and majesty that was Douglas "Cypher" Ramsey of the original New Mutants.
The young un's know of Cypher, but usually as only "Poor dead Doug" or "that underpowered guy who shouldn't have been on the team" or the like. But the MU's second most consistently dead mutant (John Proudstar still beats him) had so much going for him.
In light of the possibility of his return in the pages of "X-Academy-Youngling-Men" or whatever it's called this month, I thought an occasional series highlighting how impressive and just downright FUN the character could be would be in order.
This is from the first comic he ever appeared in, New Mutants #13 from 1984. But we don't get to meet him just yet...
Nice to see Shaw's career as an industiralist referenced, rather than only his position in the Hellfire Club, you didn't see that too often. And wearing a suit rather than his Hellfire outfit which I'm sure Gyrich would have commented on.. Though I don't recall a hairbow of that sort ever being worn by a guy since about the 18th century. I suppose if you're rich you're allowed one style pecadillo.
Oops.... someone has just hacked a secure system, accessed a Sentinel, requiring the destruction of five million dollars worth of aforementioned R&D Sentinel and royally pissed off Henry Gyrich.
Makes you want to shake their hand from the get go, no?
And so we meet Doug Ramsey; friend of Kitty Pryde from Salem Central (The first local kid not affiliated with Xaiver we'd actually met from there in a long, long time), mutant (Though both he and Kitty are unaware of this as yet), snappy dresser, unsurpassed computer hacker and all round heck of a nice guy. (His somewhat frightening eyebrows are more pronounced here than they ever would be again, just a quirk of Buscema and Mandake's art)
(On a side note, the owner of the original art for this page, which can be seen here, mentions that there's writing on the back of the page which reads; Chris & Louise: I’ve checked all my recent issues of X-Men and can’t find Doug Walsh. Who the hell is he? In the future, could you please send reference on these lesser known characters. Or at least tell me what books they’re in. Thanx, Sal. P.S. I used my psychic powers to draw what I thought he might look like!
So Doug Walsh might have been the originally planned name, though it might have been changed as there was a possibility that Doug would be revealed to be the son of the Phillip Ramsey who had appeared in "God Loves, Man Kills" as running the "friends of Humanity", but luckily for Doug, that overwrought little plot device never happened. We now return to the plot in progess)
Kitty actually comes off quite badly here. She wants to hack Shaw Industries, which she knows is deeply dangerous, so she talks Doug into getting the access code from one of HIS friends, and then runs the hack from Doug's home rather than the X-Mansion, where an untraceable number can probably be more easily found, and the best they can be sure of is that the line probably can't be traced. That's gonna bite someone on the ass.
Special note for the young'uns reading. It's hard to explain how, almost 25 years ago, the concept of what Doug is doing here was pretty radical and more cool than you could imagine. Home computers were in their infancy (an 8 BIT machine was seen as cutting edge for domestic use at the time, compare to this standard PC I'm typing this on which has a 2 Gigbyte dual-core processor) and both War Games and Whiz Kids was less than a year old. Modems were not easily available and had speeds which make dial up look impressive. If you're proposed the speeds that Broadband offer to any home with a phoneline, or the concept of the Internet as it has become, they'd have laughed in your face.
Note the first reference to the "Team Supreme" a term Doug seemed to like, as it's what he called his later frequent teamups with Warlock.
Also the fact that Kitty's contrubution was the hardware. At this point she was not the computer sofftware whiz she currently is, but she was more interested in building the computers themselves.
So the first time we meet Doug he does more damage to Project Wideawake and the Sentinel program than any single member of the X-Men or New Mutants had ever managed... and he does it sitting at home... by accident.
I ask you, who WOULDN'T love this guy?
Now, it has to be said that after that his next appearance would have to be a LITTLE more low key, but it's a nice setup for a longer plot.
Sadly I can't find in my collection the remarkable moment when Xavier, when talking to Kitty and the X-Men mentions that he is pretty sure Doug is a mutant, with a power connected to communications. Now, this is either;
An appalling breach of privacy, if he hasn't seen fit to mention it to Doug, why the hell is it okay to mention it to the X-Men? or
Generally poor show. Why hasn't he told Doug about his mutancy? It's not like a Sentinel is going to waste time asking "Will any mutants who aren't aware they are mutants please stand on this side of the room, we're only interested in mutants who KNOW they have powers.
Still, it becomes a little more obvious he's a mutant in his second appearance in New Mutants #14 and also highlight another of his more endearing traits; The ability to adapt to just about any of the weird shit that even tangential contact with the Xavier school and it's students brings. To wit; casual acceptance of a volcano appearing in the living room.
"Is that a mountain? It is? Wow!" and on with the plot. And it appears that whilst Xavier is prepared to let Doug go as a recruit, his opposite number isn't. It's never made clear whether the Hellfire Club managed to track him back after his hacking incident, or whether Cyberiad (Ms Frost's home-made, Xavier inspired mutant hunting system) simply picked up on him, but both work in context.
I will skip over the rest of the story, as it's more a New Mutants tale and introduction of the Hellions. Doug is a catalyst but has almost nothing to do in the story itself
Aside from impress us with his spiffy sartorial elegance. Now bear in mind this IS from 1984 so things will look a little dated, but even so all I will say is that it's a good thing he's cute, smart and generally loveable, because even a blue eyed blond has to work hard to make the "white tux with white sort-of-ruffled shirt and no tie" look work (Mercifully, he does prove that he does look cute in a classic black tux in later issues)
We also see that one of Doug's recurring traits is that he always wears his heart on his sleeve. He doesn't have dalliances, he falls head over head on heels in love... repeatedly. And you can't really fault his taste either.
"NO TONGUES DOUG!!!", and just pray to whatever deity you prefer that he never made it to third base with his illusory Kitty because that would be wrong on too many levels, even for a Claremont plot.
Now, it could all be manipulation on the part of Emma, but it's pretty much par for the course for Doug, so we'll take it at face value.
To cut a long subplot short; Doug, for no reason ever given, doesn't pursue the whole scholarship thing from the Massachussetts Academy, and returns to ordinary life. There seems to be no ill feeling on either side, and I do wonder if a little...discussion was had between Charles and Emma over interfering in his future.
Now we cut to his next appearance, and his sort-of formal induction into the New Mutants.
The alien Warlock (in his debut) has crashed near the mansion (Attracted by the Shi'ar tech he detected there) and in his confused, damaged and low energy state is rampaging through the place. The X-Men (including Xavier) are out, and the New Mutant girls are having a slumber party with some of the local girls. As boys, Sam and Bobby are exiled to elsewhere in the mansion for the duration of the party, or at least until things get really out of hand. Since Warlock doesn't speak any language they know, and there are no telepaths in the New Mutants, they're sort of stuck in establishing a dialogue... or are they...
Well, having a towel clad Cannonball arrive to tell him will, I'm sure, be the best way to break the news to him.
Doug and Berto never really liked each other that much. They sort of got on, but were just too different in outlook to be best buddies, and I always rather liked that bit of conflict.
There now follows one of the all time defining Doug Ramsey moments, his reply to Sam in the first panel.
Doug's taking it better than I would, but I'd probably be still picturing Sam wearing only a towel flying in through my bedroom window at night.
I'd ask when Sam found time to change into pants (But still no top), but that's probably a story in itself.
Oh, and in the second panel, I'm not sure that starting ANY communication about life on earth with what appears to be Ronnie and Nancy Reagan is a great idea, but since this is his first time dealing with the insanely complex Shi'ar computer technology we'll give him a pass.
Doug picks things up REALLY quickly, you'll notice
And Doug's inner geek shines through with a CE3K reference! His resourcefulness works, and they do end up communicating long enough for Rahne to explain the concept of an "electric plug" to Warlock, who shapeshuts and appendage into one and recharges himself to a state of satiety and sanity and learns English (of a sort) off Doug and the computers.
When Xavier returns he instantly welcomes Warlock (Who casued mayhem and chaos) onto the team based on the other Mutants recommendations, but not, it should be noted, Doug (Who not only saved the day but has had to process a hell of a lot of shit in the space of a mere hour or so). Boo Hiss!
So despite saving the day Doug wasn't a shoo in. He knows their secrets, but he's not in the gang yet. And how he did manage it, we'll cover in the next post in the series.