Martyn Van Wyck was raised in Seattle, Washington, by his alcoholic father after his mother had died, he grew up a bitter and resentful man. He was continuously getting into trouble with authority figures and he tried to make a career as a musician. He couldn't even get a menial job in the music industry.
One night, a female acquaintance kicked him out of her car after an argument. Left 54 miles outside of Seattle, he was about to start hitchhiking back when a bright, overpowering light appeared in the sky.
Van Wyck only had vague images of being in a room with figures standing over him. He was on a table and had the impression the figures were going to hurt him. The figures were the Controllers, an alien race that had originated on Maltus and had split from the Guardians of the Universe some three billion years ago.
Six days later, two men in a pickup truck found Van Wyck in the middle of the road. Van Wyck was naked and confused so the men took him to the nearest emergency room. The doctors could find nothing wrong with him except for his eyes had changed from blue to flickering orange flames.
Meeting with his friends, Van Wyck told them all he knew about his condition. When the owner of the coffee shop they were sitting in asked them to leave, Van Wyck responded with a beast made out of flame. He realized he could do anything he wanted with his new found powers. Outside the coffee shop, an argument with a driver was quickly won by Van Wyck when he torched the man's car. In his anger, Van Wyck had transformed. His skin had turned white while his hair turned to flame and he was dressed in a red costume. He was amazed by what he had become and now possessed the power of flight.
Talking with his girlfriend, Trace, Van Wyck explained how he was sick of being "pushed around" by others and things would change now that he had powers. Trace described the images he made in the flames as burning effigies, an image or copy. Van Wyck liked the word, and took the name Effigy. He decided to leave Seattle and Trace behind. As far as he was concerned, his life as Martyn Van Wyck was over; he was now only Effigy.
Van Wyck traveled to Hollywood, California, where he promptly set out to get attention by causing destruction, just because he could. Burning the famous "Hollywood" sign caught the attention of the media, which in turn caught the attention of Green Lantern Kyle Rayner. Effigy relished the chance to take on a member of the Justice League and quickly attacked.
Effigy and Green Lantern battled across Hollywood and down to the coastline. Finally, it appeared Green Lantern had overcome the new villain. Suddenly, a bright light appeared above the two combatants. It was the Controllers and they had returned to reclaim Effigy. They had released him thinking their experiments were a failure. Green Lantern attempted to stop them from taking Van Wyck but they were too powerful for the ring wielder. Effigy was taken aboard the ship which left Earth. Inside, the Controllers continued their experimentation, their only reason being that they could.
Rayner next encountered Effigy on his way to confront the Controllers about their psychic tampering of his head. Before Rayner could enter their ship, The Controllers dispatched Effigy whom they had apparently made into their obedient servant but had only succeeded in making a mindless drone. Effigy, sans imagination and willpower, was no match for Green Lantern and was easily dispatched by him. Rayner left him drifting in space while he dealt with the Controllers reasoning that his powers would protect him.
Effigy somehow made his way back to Earth where he had a brief affair/adventure with the second Killer Frost. During this time, they attracted Kyle Rayner, who was quickly immobilized by the new couple. Afterwards, Killer Frost began to lecture Effigy on his poor performance, and insisted that during battle he defer to her expertise and experience when dealing with superheroes. Effigy took offense to this and began to have second thoughts about their relationship.
Rayner eventually caught up with Effigy and Killer Frost. This time however, he buried Killer Frost under a mountain of ice she had created thus interrupting her heat absorbing powers. Effigy was about to dig her out when suddenly he decided to save himself and ditch Killer Frost. He ignited a passing car to distract the Green Lantern and flew away thinking "the only thing worse than a know-it-all superhero is a know-it-all supervillain."
Prior to Kyle Rayner's transformation to Ion, Effigy was discovered by Jade, having apparently suffered a psychotic breakdown. His schizophrenia had manifested through his powers, with the creation of three independent pyrokinetic characters calling themselves Torch, Blaze and Ember. Jade and Rayner defeated the three aspects and Effigy agreed to return to prison.
Afterward, he was not seen until appearing among the ranks of The Society, working with other fiery villains such as Heat Wave. It can be assumed that his recovery was caused by Despero (similar to how he probably awoke Scorch from her coma).
One Year Later
One Year Later, Effigy was once again set against Kyle Rayner (going again by the name of Ion) by a mysterious enemy, bent on the Guardians destruction, after the failure of Alexander Nero. Defeated, was unable to remember the name of his contractor, his orders have been given in a subliminal way and later expunged from his mind.
He is a member of Libra's Secret Society of Super Villains, where he aided in the death of the Martian Manhunter. Later Effigy is killed by the Spectre, who melts him down and traps him in a lantern resembling a Green Lantern ring's power battery.
- Pyrokinesis: His powers allowed him to fly, fire flame blasts, and to apparently protect himself from the vacuum of space.
- 34 Appearances of Martin van Wyck (New Earth)
- 10 Images featuring Martin van Wyck (New Earth)
- Quotations by or about Martin van Wyck (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Martin van Wyck (New Earth)
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Secret Society of Super-Villains member