Martin Conte (AKA NGM)
NGM, or Martin, had to get by without a lot of things most of his life: no father, a grandfather in jail, a mother who had to work multiple jobs so had no time for him, and no money to make life easier. Then, his grandfather earned a pardon from the president after the book he wrote was made into a critically-acclaimed movie, Golden Marvel: The True Story of Leroy Conte, and brought attention to his terrible treatment by the system. Newly freed, with money from the movie and various fundraisers, Martin’s grandfather made life almost good, but the two had little in common and Grampy Leroy was always talking about confronting racism and fostering a sense of community between the races—nothing Martin was interested in. His life involved avoiding the cops, hanging out with his friends in the local gang, and figuring out where his spending money was going to come from.
Grampy Leroy saw what the boy’s life was like and understood, to some extent, what he was going through. The system had failed Martin, just like it had failed him when he was unfairly thrown in prison at Buckner Ridge, better known as Lockdown, for life. It was in prison Grampy Leroy discovered new ways to manipulate the golden light he used to become the Golden Marvel, the "first black superhero,” in the 1960s. So Grampy Leroy decided to change Martin’s world and hopefully make it possible for Martin to make an even bigger impact on the world than he had.
Martin called home late one night to ask Grampy Leroy to pick him up from the police station. He’d been caught by the police and beaten because they thought he’d been selling drugs, or knew people selling drugs, or knew what drugs were, but they had nothing to charge him with, so he was free to go. Grampy Leroy picked him up, fixed him a late dinner, and told him what had happened that night wasn’t fair, that he had rights just like anyone else, and that he had to stand up for the downtrodden however he could—whether it was for himself or someone else. Martin laughed, telling his grandfather he couldn’t do anything, that everything was stacked against him, the system was rigged and not in his favor. With that, Grampy Leroy summoned the golden light he was known for. It filled the house with light and he touched Martin on the chest. The light flowed into Martin, suffusing him with power while simultaneously draining it from his grandfather. When it was done, Grampy Leroy said, “Now you have the power to change things.”
Unfortunately it wasn’t that simple. Martin loved the new power he had, but had a hard time thinking of himself as a “hero.” He was a disadvantaged kid with superpowers, that was all. And there was no way he was going to use a lame name like “the New Golden Marvel,” but he was okay with using the initials for his name. Despite Grampy Leroy’s attempts to train and educate Martin, he decided the boy would be better off with people who knew what they were doing, so he called up Duncan Summers and got him enrolled in the Academy.