Merlyn (DC Comics)

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Artwork from Green Arrow/Black Canary #16 (2009).
Art by Mike Norton
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Justice League of America #94 (Nov. 1971)
Created by Mike Friedrich
Neal Adams
Dick Dillin
In-story information
Alter ego Arthur King
Team affiliations Anti-Justice League
Injustice League
The Society
League of Assassins
The 100
Killer Elite
Notable aliases Merlyn the Archer, Merlyn the Magician, Malcolm Merlyn, Merlyn the Magnificent

Merlyn is a fictional character in the DC Comics Universe. He is an archer created by writer Mike Friedrich, artist Dick Dillin, and inker Neal Adams as an archenemy of Green Arrow. He first appeared in Justice League of America #94 (1971).

Fictional character biography[edit]

Years before Oliver Queen would become Green Arrow, he was inspired to take up archery by the amazing archer, "Merlyn the Magician". Once Green Arrow began to become famous, the two met again, as Merlyn challenged the hero to a public archery contest and defeated him. With that victory under his belt, Merlyn vanished for years, only to resurface as a member of the League of Assassins. Merlyn and Green Arrow faced again as Merlyn tried to fulfill a contract to assassinate Batman. Green Arrow was able to deflect one of Merlyn's arrows with an arrow of his own, saving Batman's life. Merlyn admitted that Green Arrow had become the better archer, but escaped before he could be captured. Unable to return to the League of Assassins, he became a freelance assassin.

Merlyn later appeared in Action Comics as part of the Queen Bee's unofficial "Injustice Gang" opposing the JLA.[1]

Finding work with one of Metropolis' crime syndicates, The 100,[2] Merlyn fought against a weakened Black Lightning, but lost the battle.[3]

Merlyn was apparently a part of the League of Assassins when the assassin David Cain's daughter, Cassandra, was born. Merlyn would seem to have taken part in the child's highly abusive training (along with other members of the League, such as Bronze Tiger), unknowingly giving her the skills to become the future Batgirl. He then served under Tobias Whale as a member of the 100.

He was among those who sold his soul to the demonic Neron during the events of Underworld Unleashed. He then joined the Killer Elite (along with Deadshot, Bolt, Chiller, and Deadline). All tried to perform various assassinations but were stopped by the Justice League of America. The group later encounters the Body Doubles. Merlyn and the others are soundly defeated, as the Body Doubles use gadgetry and cleavage to their advantage.[4]

The villain next made an appearance in the pages of Young Justice as an archer working for the Zandian national Olympic team. He is the instructor to the young Zandian archer Turk (a half-wolf metahuman). Turk and Merlyn attempt to sabotage the games in their favor,[5] but they are defeated by the Young Justice team.[6][7]

Merlyn would next appear in the pages of Identity Crisis,[8] and was one of the main voices for the villains during that miniseries. He recognizes the Monocle and Deadshot as his closest allies, and correctly predicts that the murder of Sue Dibny would have dire consequences in the villain community.[9] When he is captured by the Justice League along with Deadshot and Monocle, Deadshot was able to use his ties to the Suicide Squad and Amanda Waller to secure their release (much to the frustration of the newest Manhunter).[10]

The villainous archer reappeared with Monocle and Phobia in an attempt to kill the Shadow Thief at his trial, and in the process the villains found themselves battling Manhunter. Merlyn has since resurfaced in the pages of Green Arrow as part of a multipronged attack against Green Arrow and his family.[11]

Afterwards, he appears to be under the employ of Talia al Ghul as a tutor to her son Damian Wayne, though he would later confess that he was learning more from Damian.[12]

He has a minor role in The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul, in which he is hired by the Sensei to take out a spring where Ra's could revitalize himself. He fulfills his tasks well but is defeated in the final confrontation between Ra's al Ghul and Batman.[13]

He was later seen among the new Injustice League.

He was later captured by the vigilante Cupid, who planned to kill him in front of Green Arrow, whom she was besotted with. To this end, she slashed Merlyn's throat with an arrow. Green Arrow was able to get Merlyn medical attention in time to save his life, but the villain's throat was damaged to the point where he would never be able to speak again.[14]

The New 52[edit]

Tommy Merlyn appeared in The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe) in Green Arrow #0. Five years ago, Tommy was Ollie Queen's best friend. During a hostage crisis on a Pacific Ocean oil rig with a villain named "Iron Eagle", Merlyn was caught in an explosion. Fast forward to the present day, Tommy, branded as the "Mystery Patient", awoke.[15]

In Batman Incorporated #4 (2012), Merlyn (Arthur King) appears in the employ of Talia al Ghul, as part of the League of Assassins, and battles the members of Batman, Inc.[16]

During the Forever Evil storyline, Merlyn is among the villains recruited by the Crime Syndicate of America to join the Secret Society of Super Villains.[17]

Powers and abilities[edit]

While Merlyn possesses no metahuman powers, he is one of the DC Universe's best archers, a rival to Green Arrow, Connor Hawke, Red Arrow, and the Celestial Archer. Like Green Arrow, he has been known to use trick arrows in the past. He has also been shown to possess a jet pack mounted in his quiver.

In other media[edit]


  • Merlyn appears in the Justice League Unlimited episode "Dead Reckoning". He is shown as a member of Grodd's Secret Society. He sides with Grodd in the mutiny against Lex Luthor. Merlyn is seen firing his arrows during the fight. While other mutineers are captured, Merlyn manages to escape.
  • A character named Vordigan, loosely based on Merlyn and referred to as "The Dark Archer" in advertising,[18] appeared in the Smallville Season Nine episode "Disciple", reappearing later in the tenth season (episode "Prophecy") to kill Green Arrow. He is portrayed by Steve Bacic (Disciple) and by an unknown actor in (Prophecy).
John Barrowman as both a hooded archer and Malcolm Merlyn on the television series Arrow.
  • In The CW's Arrow (2012–), Merlyn is the surname of two original characters, a father and son acquainted with the Queens. Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) is introduced as the long-time best friend of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) who dates Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy). Tommy's father, Malcolm (John Barrowman), is revealed within the series to have been trained as an archer in Nanda Parbat with the League of Assassins. Fueled by the murder of his wife during a mugging in the crime-infested area of Starling City called "the Glades", the older Merlyn plots with others to completely destroy the Glades. When Oliver Queen's father tries to extricate himself from this plan, Malcolm has the Queen boat sabotaged, killing the elder Queen and shipwrecking Oliver. When, in the season one finale, "Sacrifice", Malcolm Merlyn loses his fight with Oliver, he activates an earthquake-causing device in an attempt to destroy the Glades, he inadvertently kills his son, Tommy and appears to die. In "State Vs. Queen" Malcolm returns alive and is later revealed that Thea Queen, Oliver's sister, was the product of an affair between Malcolm and Moira Queen. In "The Scientist" Malcolm tries to get Moira to tell the truth to Thea but instead she contacts Ra's al Ghul himself and informs him of Malcolm's survival which puts him on the run. It is also revealed that Malcolm is the only person to have ever been released from the League of Assassins.



  1. ^ Action Comics (vol. 1) #443 (January 1975)
  2. ^ Black Lightning (vol. 1) #2 (May 1977)
  3. ^ Black Lightning (vol. 1) #5 (November 1977)
  4. ^ New Years Evil Body Doubles one-shot (February 1998)
  5. ^ Young Justice (vol. 1) #23 (September 2000)
  6. ^ Young Justice (vol. 1) #24 (October 2000)
  7. ^ Young Justice (vol. 1) #25 (November 2000)
  8. ^ Identity Crisis #4 (November 2004)
  9. ^ Identity Crisis #6 (January 2005)
  10. ^ Manhunter (vol. 3) #8 (May 2005)
  11. ^ Green Arrow (vol. 3) #57–59 (February–April 2006)
  12. ^ Batman (vol. 1) #671 (January 2008)
  13. ^ Detective Comics (vol. 1) #839 (February 2008)
  14. ^ Green Arrow and Black Canary #19 (June 2009)
  15. ^ Green Arrow (vol. 5) #0 (November 2012)
  16. ^ Batman Incorporated (vol. 2) #4 (December 2012)
  17. ^ Forever Evil #1 (November 2013)
  18. ^