Merlyn (DC Comics)

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For the airplane, see Malcolm Merlin.
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
Full name 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
Merlyn the Magnificent

Merlyn is a fictional supervillain in the DC Comics Universe. He is an archer and 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]

In the second part of the 2014 Green Arrow storyline '"Kingdom," Merlyn appears after killing some of the men trying to take Mia Dearden into protective custody in relation to a "case" involving her mother and Mr King. Green Arrow, who moved in to rescue Mia following a tip off from hacker-for-hire Felicity Smoak, looked up to see Merlyn, bow drawn and face covered in burns.[18]

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. As he was trained by the League of Assassins he has a far greater physical and mental resilience to pain and is a master of stealth and espionage.

In other media[edit]


Justice League Unlimited[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,[19] appeared in the Smallville Season Nine episode "Disciple", reappearing later in the tenth season (episode "Prophecy") to kill Green Arrow. He is portrayed in shadow by an unknown actor in "Prophecy" and by Steve Bacic in "Disciple".


In The CW's Arrow (2012–present), Merlyn is reimagined as Malcolm Merlyn, the main antagonist of season 1 and an anti-hero of season 2 and 3. After being a recurring character in the first season and a guest in the second, he was promoted to a series regular starting with the third season. Malcolm's son, Tommy, was a main character in season 1, and later a guest in seasons 2 and 3.

John Barrowman portrays Malcolm Merlyn/The Dark Archer
Colin Donnell portrays Tommy Merlyn.
  • Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) is a wealthy businessman, associated with the Queen family and the father of Tommy Merlyn and Thea Queen. It is revealed he was trained in Nanda Parbat, with the League of Assassins, by a man named Al-Owal, where he took the name "Magician" (Arabic: الساحر Al Sa-Her) and was even the first person to leave the organization. Fueled by the murder of his wife Rebecca during a mugging in the crime-infested area of Starling City called "the Glades", Malcolm plots with others to completely destroy the area. When Robert Queen tries to extricate himself from this plan, Malcolm has the Queen boat sabotaged, killing Robert and shipwrecking his son Oliver, inadvertently causing the events that would shape him into The Arrow vigilante. Five years later, Malcolm continues his plotting but when The Arrow begins to interfere with his plans, he takes measures by donning his League of Assassins uniform and becomes a ruthless vigilante who attempts to frame the Arrow for any targets he may kill. In the season one finale, "Sacrifice", Malcolm loses his fight with Oliver, but still activates an earthquake-causing device in an attempt to destroy the Glades, inadvertently killing his son Tommy, and appears to die. In the season 2, Malcolm returns alive and is aware of his parentage to Thea Queen, Oliver's younger sister. 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. Malcolm returns to Starling after hearing that Moira was killed by Slade Wilson and arrives in time to save Thea from Slade's minions and convinces Thea to go with him after saving her. In season 3 Malcolm plots to rid himself of Ra's al Ghul and trains Thea then manipulates her into killing Sara Lance/Canary to bring the wrath of the League to Starling and force Oliver to eventually kill Ra's for him to rid the blood debt on both their heads. Malcolm returns to Starling to watch over Thea when she returns and forms an uneasy alliance with Oliver until his plan goes into motion though unfortunately it results in Oliver's apparent death, devastating Malcolm who wants to leave Starling with Thea until she convinces him to stay. Malcolm later learns of his wife's true killer Danny "Brick" Brickwell and after failing to align with Team Arrow he seeks out Brick himself to kill him but a still-alive Oliver convinces him to spare Brick and to fight Ra's al Ghul Oliver, despite knowing what Malcolm has done, asks Malcolm to train him. Malcolm becomes an uneasy ally of Team Arrow but manages to convince Oliver to tell Thea his secret to prepare her but Thea becomes distant when she learns that Malcolm kept Oliver's secret from her and Malcolm saves her from being assassinated by Chase, a minion of Ra's al Ghul, and convinces Oliver and Thea they need to train away from Starling, on Lian Yu itself.
  • Thomas "Tommy" Merlyn (Colin Donnell) is introduced as the long-time best friend of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) who dates Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), Oliver's ex-girlfriend. Later it is revealed that Thea, Oliver's sister, is actually Tommy's paternal half-sister. Over the course of the first season Tommy starts off as a laid back and reckless playboy. This recklessness of his continues until his father, Malcolm, cuts off his funds forcing him to shape into a more responsible person. It is later revealed that Tommy is estranged with his father after his mother's death. Oliver's father, Robert, acted as Tommy’s surrogate father until his death. In "Dead to Rights" Tommy discovers that Oliver is The Arrow and begins to distance himself from his friend. Furthermore, out of envy Tommy breaks up with Laurel once he realizes that she still has strong feelings for Oliver. Relations between Tommy and Oliver become even more strained, until he discovers the plot of his father to destroy the Glades and is killed saving Laurel's life from a burning building. Oliver arrives too late, but the two reconcile as Tommy dies in his arms. In season 2, Tommy's death sends Laurel into a deep depression, makes Malcolm desperate to be involved in Thea's life and is the fueling factor for Oliver to stop killing ever again. Tommy appears as one of three hallucinations in Oliver's mind in "Three Ghosts", encouraging Oliver to keep fighting when Oliver was suffering a crisis of confidence. Tommy reappears in season 3's episode "Sara", in a flashback five years in the past, where he traveled to Hong Kong in search for Oliver, after Oliver made an attempt to send out an email, which set off an account alert. Oliver would be surprised when he learns Amanda Waller ordered Tommy to be executed but Oliver would devise a plan in order to keep Tommy alive. Oliver would kidnap Tommy and claim he hacked Oliver's account in hope of a family member to search for him. Oliver's accomplice, Maseo, would then "rescue" Tommy posing as Hong Kong police and Tommy would leave after having the belief that his best friend is dead.


Video Games[edit]

  • Merlyn appears in Injustice: Gods Among Us. In Green Arrow's S.T.A.R. Labs Missions, Merlyn is posing as the hero, wearing his same costume. Green Arrow must defeat him in an archery duel.


  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. ^ Green Arrow #36 (November 2014)
  19. ^