February 2, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #358: Effigy

The anti-Kyle Rayner burned a bit bright, if briefly.

Kyle Rayner became Green Lantern under, let’s say, controversial circumstances.  He was almost certainly meant to be temporary, but then he turned out to be a rather popular character for a while there.  That said, I am at a loss to name any Green Lantern foe that came out of that era that had any sort of longevity.  Many of Kyle’s fights were against more longstanding DC villains and the like, and the few that were new all seemed to meet untimely ends.

Take Effigy for example.

To best understand Effigy’s whole thing, it helps to understand a little about DC’s cosmic entities.  The Green Lantern Corps, of course, is run by the Guardians of the Universe.  They’re fairly powerful (but not quite omnipotent) beings who dispense the power rings to their chosen Lanterns to protect the various space sectors from the forces of evil. The Guardians originated on the planet Maltus, the place that may have been the first part of the universe to spout life until Geoff Johns rewrote that tidbit in Blackest Night.  But the Guardians were not the only nearly omnipotent beings to come from Maltus.  Their “cousins” the Controllers also came from there, and the Controllers would occassionally try to build their own version of the Lantern Corps, the big difference being they tended to suck at it.  Sure, the original incarnation of the Darkstars more or less worked out, but the Controllers, who preferred order to justice, once tried to make something of the Orange Light of Greed, and the lone Orange Lantern Larfleeze may be many things, but he isn’t a wimp.

But then there was Effigy, in many ways set up to be the opposite of Kyle Rayner.  First appearing as a victim of an extra-terrestrial kidnapping in Green Lantern Volume 3 #110 and powered up in #113, Effigy was original Martyn Van Wyck.  And yes, he was the opposite of Kyle.  Kyle got the last Green Lantern ring more or less by chance when the (at the time) last Guardian Ganthet just tossed it to him in an alleyway.  Martin was abducted by the Controllers, and they did some experiments on him.  Kyle was an artist who found some success with his painting as his series wore on.  Martyn wanted to be a musician but couldn’t break into the industry at all.  Kyle was raised by a loving single mother.  Martyn was abused heavily by his alcoholic widower father.  Kyle leaned heavily on his girlfriend Alex for support in his first few days as GL before she was fridged.  Martyn took the name “Effigy” from his own girlfriend Trace before leaving her.  Kyle was an easygoing guy who got along well with most people.  Martyn had major issues with his temper and authority figures in general.

Oh, and Martyn’s powers were basically this:  he could do a lot of what a Green Lantern could do, only his constructs were made out of flame instead of green light.

So, really, it was only a matter of time before Effigy met the, at the time, last of the Green Lanterns.

It didn’t go well for Effigy.

Sometime after his first clash with Kyle, Effigy was reclaimed by the Controllers and his second appearance showed him as a more mindless husk of his former self.  That was temporary, and what I can find about Effigy after that showed he was more of a joiner than anything else.  He had a brief fling with fellow villain Killer Frost, but mostly seemed to be a member of larger villain groups.

The Frost thing didn’t last anyway. Apparently, he left her just like he left Trace…only in her case, it happened during a superhero fight.

That said, Effigy became one of those characters that always appeared in the background of villain groupshots until he finally joined the wrong group.  During the Final Crisis story, the villainous Libra was showing other baddies how to get what they wanted by teaming up and helping each other out.  To demonstrate how that would work, Libra chose one of the more pathetic bad guys, the Human Flame, and had Dr. Light and Effigy go off and kill the Flame’s archenemy the Martian Manhunter just to show it could work.  While the Human Flame’s story is just DYING to be covered here at some point, suffice to say that Effigy (and Dr. Light) were punished for their actions later when the Spectre realized he could punish supervillains the same way he punished ordinary criminals–lethally and creatively.  In Effigy’s case, he was turned into lamp oil for a lantern much like the ones a Green Lantern would use, and then burned up while still alive and conscious.

Somehow, getting used up as lamp oil seems to have been the last we’ve seen of Effigy.

Now, there were other original enemies for Kyle to face down, one of whom met a somewhat similar fate as Effigy.  So, let’s just say I know who I am covering at some point in the near future.

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