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Martyr was introduced as a foe of Painstake and Darkstrife in Justice Comics #524, released in January 1999. The story was a follow-up to the story “Æternal Torment” which is theorized to have led to the awakening of the artifact which gives him his power.

Long ago, Æternus conquered an unknown realm from Beyond. A single being, a “god” survived the conquest and fled, ending up on Earth. However, Earth was inhospitable to the “god” and it could not survive here, but it left behind a single tooth engraved with its will and power. This tooth of a dead god was later found by the man who would become Martyr. With the tooth’s awakening, he was given irrefutable proof of this “god” and its power. He entered into a fugue state, using the tooth to carve the tenets of his new religion into his flesh in the form of complex sigils. Each sigil of the alien language represents entire complex ideas, commandments that he must follow.

The First Commandment of this dead religion, dedicated to the dead god referred to only as “The One Who is Lost”, that Martyr translates is that you must give up your old life, more specifically it tells him “the thing I once was is dead, to follow me you must also be dead”. The tooth itself does not have a mind, or intelligence, but the will it contains imparts meaning and feeling into the scriptures that Martyr translates. In his devotion he cast aside his old name and stabbed the Tooth through his heart, killing himself, but filling his body with the last vestiges of the power of the “The One Who is Lost” and its dead realm. He shall live, so long as he follows the commandments and holds to his devotion. [21:24] Martyr’s powers come from essentially being the last fragment of the Realm of “The One Who is Lost”. His body is dead, his blood long since altered, and the alien scriptures on his flesh offer significant protection from harm. Combined, this makes him nearly invulnerable to harm. Additionally, he is quite strong, able to lift and throw a motorcycle with relative ease, and his body can stretch and warp in unnatural ways. He is even capable of stretching his body inwards, pulling into himself to teleport to another location in an incredibly creepy albeit relatively slow manner to escape if needed. However, his power came with a cost. Just like “The One Who is Lost” Martyr finds this realm inhospitable to his new self. He must wear a blindfold as looking upon the realm of Earth causes him pain, though it seems his new eldritch senses are more powerful than mortal eyes anyways.

Martyr believes, perhaps correctly, that by following the Commandments, creating the correct set of circumstances on Earth, and then dying he will create a new birth for the realm that was lost to Æternus. He does not believe this will resurrect “The One Who is Lost” for they are dead, and cannot return, but instead that the birth of the realm will bring about a new god “They who Would Be”, using his body as the incubator. This is why he calls himself Martyr. He has died to who he was, he lives in constant pain, but his final death will bring about new life for the realm and “god” he follows. All he must do is convert this realm of Earth into a realm more hospitable for that new life.