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Alisa Tager used her mutant ability to remain undetected in the Xavier Institute, hiding from a mysterious threat that to this day remains unrevealed. The powerful telepathic X-Man known as Jean Grey, however, was able to barely detect her presence. Because Alisa was so terrified of whomever was chasing her, Jean and her husband Scott Summers allowed her to remain at the mansion, receive private training, and help others in the background without making her presence known to anyone else. Cipher made herself known to fellow student Blindfold, whose near-indecipherable manner of language and visual handicap rendered her helpless against a manipulated Beast, whose humanity was telepathically stripped from him by Cassandra Nova. Cipher helped guide her to safety on many occasions and even attacked Danielle Moonstar when she held Blindfold at gunpoint.
Alisa then began to focus her efforts on the Young X-Men, a group of teenage mutants who had formed under a Cyclops-impersonated Donald Pierce. She, along with a misguided mutant named Graymalkin, tried to defeat Pierce on their own. Greymalkin, who at first appeared schizophrenic when he was actually speaking to the invisible Cipher. Once Donald Pierce was outed, the group reformed under the real Cyclops with the X-Men in San Francisco. Blindfold, who had no real offensive capabilities, was put on the sidelines only to assist the team when needed. Another Young X-Man, Ink, also left the team after he discovered he was not a mutant, but instead received his powers through tattoos he were receiving from a mutant tattoo artist named Leon Nunez. When the rest of the Young X-Men found themselves outnumbered by a gang of empowered thugs called the Y-Men, who received their powers the same way as Ink, Cipher had no choice but reveal herself to Ink and convince him to help his former team. Initially unwilling to help mutants if he was not one himself, he came around and was able to help save the day. However, once Ink and Greymalkin began interacting more, the two both began to question each other about the mysterious girl named Cipher. Cipher finally decided to make herself known to the rest of the team and began actively participating in missions with them. However, she is still extremely guarded, revealing only necessary information to others and would get snippy with anyone who presses further. Nonetheless, she quickly became a compassionate member having already known them all long before they ever knew her.
Cipher is next seen with Colossus and Surge trying to stop the riots in San Francisco. While the trio scout the perimeter, the Dark Avengers arrive on the scene. Venom (Mac Gargan) attacks them, citing a fight between Colossus and Rockslide, who participated in the riots. Colossus instructs the two girls to flee as he takes on the dangerous villain.
Powers and Abilities
- Phasing: Cipher possesses the ability to pass through solid matter by passing her atoms through the spaces between the atoms of the object through which she is moving. In this way she and the object through which she is passing can temporarily merge without interacting, and each is unharmed. This process is called "phasing", this ability is very similar to that of Shadowcat.
- Invisibility: Cipher can render herself completely invisible.
- Telepathic Immunity: Cipher is also mentally invisible. Its unclear if she can make herself completely mentally invisible; Jean Grey was able to detect her, but Cyclops states that Emma is not. It is possible that Cipher was not using her powers when Jean found her, or it could be that Jean's powers of telepathy are superior to those of Emma.
- Inaudibility: Cipher can render herself completely silent or allow herself to only be heard by certain individuals.
- Bioelectric Charge: emitts a charge through people she phases through.
Cipher appears to be trained in stealth and spying, this talent is greatly aided by her mutant powers. Cipher has also displayed proficient abilities in flying jets, having received advanced training as Cyclops and Jean Grey's pupil.
- Though she first appeared in Young X-Men #8, Cipher was retconned as having been present during events prior to her character's creation, including Grant Morrison's 2001 run on New X-Men and Joss Whedon's 2004 tenure on Astonishing X-Men.
- Young X-Men #10 "Who the Hell is Cipher" details both her retcon and actual history.