Merlyn in Green Arrow and Black Canary (vol.1) #16 (March 2009). Artwork by Mike Norton.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearanceJustice League of America (vol. 1) #94 (November 1971)
Created byMike Friedrich
Neal Adams
Dick Dillin
In-story information
Full nameArthur King / Malcolm Merlyn[1]
Team affiliationsLeague of Assassins
Anti-Justice League
The 100
The Killer Elite
Injustice Gang
Secret Society of Super Villains
Injustice League
Notable aliasesThe Dark Archer[2]
The Magician
AbilitiesSkilled tactician, analyst, manipulator, and deceiver
Peak physical and mental conditioning
Master archer with acute accuracy
Expert hand-to-hand combatant, martial artist, swordsman, and marksman

Merlyn (Arthur King), otherwise known as the Dark Archer, is a fictional supervillain appearing in comic books published by DC Comics.[2] He is a deadly bow-wielding assassin and contract killer who serves as the archenemy of Green Arrow, though writers have developed him over the years as an adversary of other superheroes in the DC Universe as well, such as Batman and Black Canary.

In 2012, the character made his live-action debut on The CW's television series Arrow, portrayed by actor John Barrowman.[3][4]

Publication history

Created by Mike Friedrich, Neal Adams, and Dick Dillin, Merlyn made his debut in Justice League of America (vol. 1) #94 in November 1971.[5]

In 2012, The CW's live-action TV show Arrow introduced Malcolm Merlyn as the first season's main antagonist, and his son Tommy Merlyn as Oliver Queen's best friend, a concept that would later be integrated into the comics. John Barrowman, who portrays Malcolm Merlyn in the series, and his sister Carole have written the digital comic Arrow: The Dark Archer, which is centred on the character. The present day narrative takes place between the third and fourth seasons of the show, while flashbacks detail Malcolm's past as Arthur King.[4]

Fictional character biography

Arthur King

Long before Oliver Queen would become the vigilante Green Arrow, he was inspired to take up archery after hearing of the exploits of Arthur King, otherwise known as "Merlyn the Magician", a master archer with acute accuracy. Years later, Merlyn challenged Oliver, now operating as the Green Arrow, to a public archery duel and defeated him. With that victory under his belt, Merlyn vanished for years before resurfacing as a member of the League of Assassins. During his time with the League, Merlyn took part in the highly abusive training of David Cain's daughter, Cassandra, unknowingly giving her the skills to become the future Batgirl. He and Green Arrow faced each other again when Merlyn attempted to assassinate Batman; Green Arrow managed to intercept Merlyn's arrow with one 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.

In Action Comics, Merlyn, now working as a freelance assassin and contract killer who sells his skills to the highest bidder, is hired by Queen Bee (Zazzala) to join her supervillain team and take on the Justice League.[6] He then serves under Tobias Whale as a member of one of Metropolis' crime syndicates, The 100.[7] Merlyn attempts to kill Black Lightning, but is ultimately defeated.[8] A man from Libya later hires Meryln to kill a Russian scientist visiting Casablanca. Although Merlyn is aided by Syonide, his assassination attempt is foiled by the Flash and Phantom Lady.[9]

During the events of Underworld Unleashed, Merlyn is among the villains that sell their souls to the demon Neron in exchange for greater power. He then joins the Killer Elite (along with Deadshot, Monocle, Bolt, Chiller, and Deadline) to perform various assassinations, but the group is eventually stopped by the Justice League. The Killer Elite later encounters the Body Doubles, and Merlyn and his team are defeated.[10]

In Young Justice, Merlyn is hired by the Zandian government to mentor the young archer Turk, a half-wolf metahuman. Merlyn and Turk attempt to sabotage an archery contest in their favour, but they are stopped by the Young Justice team.[11][12][13]

Merlyn next appears as one of the primary villains in the Injustice Gang in the miniseries Identity Crisis.[14] He warns and correctly predicts that the death of Sue Dibny would have troublesome and dire consequences in the criminal underworld.[15] Although the Justice League manages to capture Merlyn, Monacle, and Deadshot, the latter is able to use his connections with the Suicide Squad and Amanda Waller to arrange for their release, much to the frustration of the newest Manhunter.[16] Merlyn, Deadshot, Monacle, and Phobia later attempt to kill the Shadow Thief during his trial, but are confronted and stopped by the Manhunter.

During the Infinite Crisis, Merlyn serves as a member of Lex Luthor's Society. Since then, he has resumed his feud with Green Arrow, launching several attacks on the hero and his family.[17][18][19] Merlyn then plays a major role in the attack on Green Arrow and Black Canary's wedding as a member of the new Injustice League.[20]

During Countdown, Merlyn appears under the employ of the League of Assassins, coordinating his attacks with Talia al Ghul and serving as a mentor to her son, Damian Wayne.[21] Merlyn 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 al Ghul could revitalise himself. He is defeated during in the final confrontation between Ra's and Batman.[22] Merlyn then joins the League of Assassins' elite team, the Seven Men of Death, and is sent to Gotham City to retrieve the Suit of Sorrows from the Order of Purity. During the attack on the Order, Merlyn kills the Order's leader, Leland McCauley, and injures Felicidad Gomez before being confronted by Azrael.[23] Merlyn and the his team attempt to capture Azrael and move him to their headquearters, but Azrael uses one of Merlyn's own arrows to stab him.[24]

Merlyn is later captured by the vigilante Cupid, who plans to kill him in front of Green Arrow, with whom she is besotted. To this end, she slashes Merlyn's throat with an arrow, and although Green Arrow is able to get Merlyn medical attention in time to save his life, the villain's vocal cords are severely damaged.[25]

The New 52

In The New 52 reboot's Batman Incorporated, Merlyn appears under the employ of the League of Assassins and serves as a member of the Seven Men of Death, who are tasked by Talia al Ghul and her Leviathan Organisation to destroy Batman Incorporated. Merlyn defeats members of the group with ease until his bow is broken by a surprise shot from Damian Wayne.[26] During the Forever Evil storyline, Merlyn is one of the numerous villains recruited by the Crime Syndicate of America to join the Secret Society of Super Villains.[27]

DC Rebirth

In the DC Rebirth relaunch, the Green Arrow series reveals that Arthur King changed his name to Malcolm Merlyn, a concept incorporated from the Arrow television series. When he was around 25 years old, Malcolm joined the League of Assassins, an ancient, international order of the world's greatest killers, and was trained by their leader Ra's al Ghul himself. Malcolm's commencement ceremony into the organisation involved him digging an eight-foot-long, six-foot-deep, and four-foot-wide grave, which he had to lie in to purge himself of his past life and emerge reborn.[1] Now a deadly assassin known as the Dark Archer, Malcolm is contracted by Cyrus Broderick, a director of the Ninth Circle criminal organisation, to frame the Green Arrow (Oliver Queen) for murder after he destroyed the Inferno, their base of operations that hosted their "bank" and resources.[28] Using arrows resembling Green Arrow's for multiple high-profile killings, including the murder of famous soccer player Cy Sampson, the Dark Archer succeeds in tarnishing the hero's image and reputation.[2] Green Arrow and the Dark Archer later engage in a fierce duel, with Oliver believing the hooded villain to be Malcolm's son, Tommy Merlyn. Malcolm then reveals himself to Oliver as "the original Dark Archer", and proceeds to best his foe in combat whilst taunting him. Before Malcolm can kill Oliver, however, the intervention of Black Canary and the police forces the villain to flee. As he escapes, Merlyn fires an arrow at the police chief, whom Green Arrow narrowly manages to save at the cost of his own bow, which is shattered by Merlyn's shot.[1]

Thomas Merlyn

Coinciding with the then-recently debuted television series Arrow, a new Merlyn was introduced in Thomas "Tommy" Merlyn as part of DC's New 52 reboot in 2012.[29] Created by Judd Winick and Freddie E. Williams II, he is depicted as the son of Malcolm Merlyn (Arthur King) and the best friend of Oliver Queen. After being caught in an explosion during a hostage crisis on a Pacific Ocean oil rig, Tommy wakes up in a hospital five years later.[29] He is next seen in the 2014 Green Arrow storyline "Kingdom", in which he appears as a heavily burned archer sent to capture Mia Dearden.[30]

Powers and abilities

Merlyn (Arthur King) has been established as one of the greatest and most accurate archers in the DC Universe.[1] His archery and marksmanship skills exceed those of Green Arrow, Emiko Queen, Shado, Roy Harper, Connor Hawke, Celestial Archer, and his own son, Tommy Merlyn.[1] The Dark Archer has been known to use trick arrows to kill his targets, including explosive arrows that detonate upon impact. He is extremely proficient with swords, throwing knives, and various other weapons as well. Having been trained by the League of Assassins, Merlyn is at the prime of human physical and mental conditioning, possessing advanced strength, agility, and reflexes. He is a master in the art of stealth and has an incredibly high tolerance for pain, and his Kevlar body armour further enhances his durability. Merlyn is also a formidable expert in many forms of hand-to-hand combat and martial arts, being able to best the likes of Green Arrow with relative ease.[1]

In other media



John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn on the cover of Arrow: The Dark Archer.


Video games



  1. ^ a b c d e f Green Arrow (Volume 6) #14 (March 2017)
  2. ^ a b c Green Arrow (Volume 6) #13 (February 2017)
  3. ^ a b c 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. ((cite web)): Unknown parameter |dead-url= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  4. ^ a b c 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. ((cite web)): Unknown parameter |dead-url= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  5. ^ Justice League of America (Volume 1) #94 (November 1971)
  6. ^ Action Comics (Volume 1) #443 (January 1975)
  7. ^ Black Lightning (Volume 1) #2 (May 1977)
  8. ^ Black Lightning (Volume 1) #5 (November 1977)
  9. ^ The Flash (Volume 2) #29 (August 1989)
  10. ^ New Years Evil Body Doubles one-shot (February 1998)
  11. ^ Young Justice (Volume 1) #23 (September 2000)
  12. ^ Young Justice (Volume 1) #24 (October 2000)
  13. ^ Young Justice (Volume 1) #25 (November 2000)
  14. ^ Identity Crisis (Volume 1) #4 (November 2004)
  15. ^ Identity Crisis (Volume 1) #6 (January 2005)
  16. ^ Manhunter (Volume 3) #8 (May 2005)
  17. ^ Green Arrow (Volume 3) #57 (February 2006)
  18. ^ Green Arrow (Volume 3) #58 (March 2006)
  19. ^ Green Arrow (Volume 3) #59 (April 2006)
  20. ^ Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special (Volume 1) #1 (November 2007)
  21. ^ Batman (Volume 1) #671 (January 2008)
  22. ^ Detective Comics (Volume 1) #839 (February 2008)
  23. ^ Azrael: Death's Dark Knight (Volume 1) #1 (May 2009)
  24. ^ Azrael: Death's Dark Knight (Volume 1) #2 (June 2009)
  25. ^ Green Arrow and Black Canary (Volume 1) #19 (June 2009)
  26. ^ Batman Incorporated (Volume 2) #4 (December 2012)
  27. ^ Forever Evil (Volume 1) #1 (November 2013)
  28. ^ Green Arrow (Volume 6) #12 (February 2017)
  29. ^ a b Green Arrow (Volume 5) #0 (November 2012)
  30. ^ Green Arrow (Volume 5) #36 (January 2015)
  31. ^ "Smallville: "Disciple" Review - IGN". 2010-02-01. Retrieved 2016-04-14.
  32. ^ Jesse Schedeen (January 6, 2016). "Arrow's John Barrowman to Write Dark Archer Comic". IGN.
  33. ^ Burlingame, Russ. "Arrow EP Discusses the Possibility of John Barrowman's Return". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  34. ^ Bucksbaum, Sydney (July 23, 2016). "Comic-Con: 'Legends of Tomorrow' to Tackle Legion of Doom Villain Team In Season 2". The Hollywood Reporter.
  35. ^ Schedeen, Jesse (31 January 2017). "DC's Legends of Tomorrow: "The Legion of Doom" Review". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  36. ^ Schedeen, Jesse (4 April 2017). "DC's Legends of Tomorrow: "Aruba" Review". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  37. ^ Harvey, James (September 24, 2010). "Main Cast, Crew Details For "DC Showcase: Green Arrow" Animated Short". Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  38. ^ "Arrow DLC For Lego Batman 3 Gets A Cute Trailer That Stars Stephen Amell". Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  39. ^ "LEGO Batman on Twitter: "Proudly introducing the @CW_Arrow DLC pack with Stephen Amell! @amellywood #LEGOBatmanGame"". Retrieved 30 March 2018.
  40. ^ "DC Collectibles Arrow (TV): The Dark Archer Action Figure". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  41. ^ Steinbeiser, Andrew (July 8, 2015). "New Arrow and Flash Action Figures Revealed". Retrieved March 9, 2018.
  42. ^ "DC Collectibles Arrow TV: Malcolm Merlyn Action Figure". Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  43. ^ "Funko Pop TV: Arrow - Malcolm Merlyn 2016 SDCC Exclusive Vinyl Figure". Retrieved 2018-03-04.
  44. ^ "Dorbz Arrow Malcolm Merlyn GameStop Exclusive #199". Retrieved 2018-03-04.