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 Arthur King: Justice League of America #94 (November 1971)
Thomas Merlyn: Green Arrow #0 (September 2012)
Created by Mike Friedrich
Neal Adams
Dick Dillin
In-story information
Full name Arthur King / Malcolm Merlyn[1]
Thomas Merlyn[2]
Species Human
Place of origin New Earth
Team affiliations Anti-Justice League
Injustice League
The Society
League of Assassins
The 100
Killer Elite
Notable aliases The Dark Archer[3]
The Magician
Abilities Genius-level tactician
Peak physical and mental conditioning
Master archer with acute accuracy
Master hand-to-hand combatant, martial artist, bowman, assassin, swordsman and marksman
Highly skilled in stealth
High tolerance for pain

Merlyn is a fictional character, a supervillain appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. While he occasionally serves as an enemy for Batman and Black Canary, he is the archenemy of Green Arrow.

Publication history[edit]

Created by Mike Friedrich, Neal Adams, and Dick Dillin, the character made his first appearance in Justice League of America #94 (1971)

John Barrowman and his sister Carole have written a digital comic called Arrow: The Dark Archer, now released as a physical paperback, which focuses on Malcolm Merlyn, the character that John plays on The CW's live-action television series Arrow.[4] It is illustrated by Daniel Sampere. The digital comic reveals Malcolm's birth name as Arthur King, Merlyn's real name in the mainstream comics.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Years before Oliver Queen would become Green Arrow, he was inspired to take up archery by the 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 improved since their last encounter, 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.[5]

Finding work with one of Metropolis' crime syndicates, The 100,[6] Merlyn fought against a weakened Black Lightning, but lost the battle.[7]

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 encountered the Body Doubles. Merlyn and the others were soundly defeated.[8]

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,[9] but they are defeated by the Young Justice team.[10][11]

Merlyn would next appear in the pages of Identity Crisis,[12] 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.[13] 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).[14]

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.[15]

Afterward, 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.[16]

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.[17]

He was later seen among the new Injustice League.[volume & issue needed] 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.[18]

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.[19] During the Forever Evil storyline, Arthur King is among the villains recruited by the Crime Syndicate of America to join the Secret Society of Super Villains.[20]

Coinciding with the then-recently debuted series Arrow, DC Comics in 2012 introduced a new Merlyn in Tommy Merlyn, the son of Malcolm, as part of its The New 52 relaunch. The character first appeared in the prequel story Green Arrow #0, which, set five years before the present-day narrative, saw Oliver Queen's best friend Tommy caught up in a hostage crisis on a Pacific Ocean oil rig with a villain named "Iron Eagle". Tommy was caught in an explosion. In the present day, Tommy, is next seen waking up in a hospital.[21] He is next seen in the 2014 Green Arrow storyline "Kingdom", in which he appears as a heavily burned archer and a mercenary sent to capture Mia Dearden. The same storyline also introduced a new character in John King, who reflected Arrow's contemporaneous depiction of Merlyn as a wealthy businessman Malcolm Merlyn.[22]

As part of the DC Rebirth event, the Green Arrow series brought back Arthur King and gave him his television series alias Malcolm Merlyn. He is depicted as a master archer whose skills exceed those of Oliver, Shado, Emiko Queen, and Tommy. He appears as a member of the League of Assassins hired by the Ninth Circle to tarnish the Green Arrow's reputation.[23]

Powers and abilities[edit]

While Merlyn possesses no metahuman powers, he is at his prime in terms of human physical conditioning, possessing advanced strength and reflexes as well as having an incredibly high tolerance for pain, which make him an extremely vicious opponent. His League of Assassins armor is made of Kevlar, and provides further protection when he is in the field. Having been trained by the League of Assassins, Merlyn is a master of hand-to-hand combat, martial arts and stealth. He is one of the DC Universe's best archers, whose archery skills are equivalent, if not superior, to Green Arrow, Connor Hawke, Red Arrow and the Celestial Archer. He has been known to use trick arrows to kill his enemies, including explosive arrows that detonate on impact. He has also been shown to possess a jet pack mounted in his quiver. In addition to being an archer, Merlyn is also extremely proficient with swords, throwing knives and other melee weapons, and is highly skilled in devising battle plans and strategies.

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. In a fight for leadership of the society, Merlyn sides with Grodd in the mutiny against Lex Luthor. Merlyn is seen firing his arrows and dispatching multiple other supervillains during the fight. His final fate is unknown, as when the mutineers are defeated and captured, Merlyn is not seen among them.
  • In "Disciple", a season nine episode of Smallville, Steve Bacic portrays an adaptation of Merlyn called Vordigan who is referred to as The Dark Archer in advertising. He later reappears in the season ten episode "Prophecy" in a cameo role as the Injustice League member assigned to kill Green Arrow.[24]


John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn on the cover of Arrow: The Dark Archer.
  • Malcolm Merlyn (né Arthur King) appears in The CW's Arrowverse, portrayed by John Barrowman.[25]
    • First appearing on Arrow as the wealthy CEO of Merlyn Global Group, Malcolm was devastated by the murder of his wife during a mugging in the crime-infested area of Starling City called "the Glades". He left his son, Tommy (portrayed by Colin Donnell), to train in Nanda Parbat with the League of Assassins, where he took the name "The Magician" (Arabic: الساحر Al Sa-Her). Years later, he left the League and returned to Starling City to plot "the undertaking": destroying the Glades with an earthquake device. When his best friend Robert Queen refused to go along, he arranged for the bombing of his yacht, inadvertently marooning Oliver Queen on the island Lian Yu for five years until his return to Starling City. As the vigilante known as "Arrow", Oliver begins interfering with Malcolm's plans so he dons his "Dark Archer" suit,[26] to confront the Arrow, learning his secret identity in the process of defeating him. Oliver seemingly kills Malcolm but is unable to stop his earthquake device from leveling the Glades and killing hundreds, including Tommy, who dies saving Laurel Lance's life. In season two, Malcolm is revealed to have faked his death and discovered he is the father of Thea Queen, Oliver's younger sister. He convinces Thea to leave the city and become his trainee shortly after her mother's death. In season three, the League is after Malcolm for breaking their code with the undertaking, so he brainwashes Thea into murdering Sara Lance in a bid to force Oliver to kill Ra's al Ghul, the League's leader. With Malcolm's training, Oliver kills Ra's and hands leadership of the League to Malcolm, who becomes the next Ra's al Ghul. In season four, Ra's daughter, Nyssa, leads a rebel faction of the League in a civil war against Malcolm. Oliver ends the war by defeating Malcolm in a duel and severs his left hand. Nyssa subsequently disbands the League to end her father's legacy. Malcolm, who adopts a cybernetic prosthetic hand, then joins H.I.V.E. and forms an alliance with Damien Darhk. But when he discovers that Darhk's "Project Genesis" involved destroying most of the world with a fleet of nuclear missiles, Malcolm temporarily aids Oliver's team in stopping him. Malcolm is killed in the season five finale when he uses a land mine to kill him and Captain Boomerang to save Thea.
    • Malcolm appeared in The Flash during the episode "Legends of Today" (a crossover with the Arrow episode "Legends of Yesterday"), where he offers the heroes information regarding Vandal Savage but then steals Savage's remains after the heroes kill him. Malcolm appears next in Season 3 in "Duet", a crossover episode with Supergirl, where Music Meister traps Barry and Kara in a musical dream world. Malcolm's counterpart is "Cutter Moran", the mobster owner of the nightclub Kara and Barry sing in. His son is Mon-El's counterpart Tommy Moran and he gets in a gang war with Joe West's counterpart Digsy Foss and his husband, the counterpart to Martin Stein.
    • Malcolm is featured in season two of Legends of Tomorrow as a member of the Legion of Doom, comprising time traveller Eobard Thawne/Reverse-Flash and past versions of Damien Darhk and Leonard Snart/Captain Cold.[27] The Legion is searching for the Spear of Destiny to rewrite history and change their fated deaths; Malcolm himself aims to bring back his wife and son.


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 costume. Green Arrow must defeat him in an archery duel.
  • Malcolm Merlyn appears in Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham. He appears as part of the "Arrow" DLC.
  • While he doesn't physically appear, Malcolm Merlyn is alluded to in Lego Dimensions. When Green Arrow is paired with the Twelfth Doctor of Doctor Who during gameplay, Arrow mentions that the Doctor's reoccurring companion Captain Jack Harkness looks familiar. This is a nod to the fact that both characters are portrayed by John Barrowman. On a related note, Barrowman himself even returned to voice Jack within the game.


  • Several figures of Malcolm Merlyn have been released based on his appearance in the Arrow TV show.
    • In late March 2015, DC Collectibles released a Dark Archer action figure. An unmasked and slightly repainted version of this figure was later released in 2016, this time labelled "Malcolm Merlyn".
    • A Retro Re-Action figure of the Dark Archer has been released.
    • A Funko POP! vinyl figure of Malcolm Merlyn was released as a SDCC 2016 Exclusive.


  1. ^ Green Arrow (volume 6) #14
  2. ^ Green Arrow (volume 5) #0, 26, 36-37
  3. ^ Green Arrow (volume 6) #13
  4. ^ Renaud, Jeffrey (January 14, 2016). "John & Carole Barrowman Target Merlyn's Past in "Arrow: Dark Archer" Comic". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on April 5, 2016. Retrieved April 5, 2016. 
  5. ^ Action Comics (vol. 1) #443 (January 1975)
  6. ^ Black Lightning (vol. 1) #2 (May 1977)
  7. ^ Black Lightning (vol. 1) #5 (November 1977)
  8. ^ New Years Evil Body Doubles one-shot (February 1998)
  9. ^ Young Justice (vol. 1) #23 (September 2000)
  10. ^ Young Justice (vol. 1) #24 (October 2000)
  11. ^ Young Justice (vol. 1) #25 (November 2000)
  12. ^ Identity Crisis #4 (November 2004)
  13. ^ Identity Crisis #6 (January 2005)
  14. ^ Manhunter (vol. 3) #8 (May 2005)
  15. ^ Green Arrow (vol. 3) #57–59 (February–April 2006)
  16. ^ Batman (vol. 1) #671 (January 2008)
  17. ^ Detective Comics (vol. 1) #839 (February 2008)
  18. ^ Green Arrow and Black Canary #19 (June 2009)
  19. ^ Batman Incorporated (vol. 2) #4 (December 2012)
  20. ^ Forever Evil #1 (November 2013)
  21. ^ Green Arrow (vol. 5) #0 (November 2012)
  22. ^ Green Arrow (vol. 5) #36 (January 2015)
  23. ^ Green Arrow (volume 6) #14 (2017)
  24. ^ "Smallville: "Disciple" Review - IGN". 2010-02-01. Retrieved 2016-04-14. 
  25. ^ Phegley, Kiel (December 12, 2012). "Barrowman Brings Malcolm Merlyn To "Arrow"". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on April 5, 2016. Retrieved April 5, 2016. 
  26. ^ Jesse Schedeen (January 6, 2016). "Arrow's John Barrowman to Write Dark Archer Comic". IGN. 
  27. ^ Bucksbaum, Sydney (July 23, 2016). "Comic-Con: 'Legends of Tomorrow' to Tackle Legion of Doom Villain Team In Season 2". The Hollywood Reporter. 

External links[edit]