Today we’re speaking of another member of Arrow regular cast, Tommy Merlyn, portrayed on screen by Colin Donnell. While in the show he’s an easygoing playboy, in the comics Merlyn is known to be one of the world’s most feared assassin, and a personal nemesis to Green Arrow. He already appeared on screen in Smallville, where he was named Vordigan the Dark Archer: he was portrayed by Steve Bacic and debuted as Oliver Queen‘s former mentor and master in the League of Assassins. In Arrow, another Merlyn, Tommy’s father, appeared, portrayed by John Barrowman: he seems more similar to the comicbook counterpart, but only in time we’ll see who, between father and son, is the real Merlyn. And no, in the comics his name is not Tommy.
Every super hero must have a “dark self”: of course he has a nemesis, but he’ll also have someone with his same skills and/or powers, who chose the path of criminality instead of the one of justice. They can also be the same person, but not always: for example, Spider-Man‘s nemesis is Green Goblin, but his dark self is Venom; Superman‘s nemesis is Lex Luthor, but his dark self is General Zod. Well, Green Arrow’s dark self is the man known as Merlyn. When he was simply known as Arthur King, he was a great fan of the legendary archer Merlyn the Magician, and attended to every show of him. Growing up, he studied archery to emulate his hero, and became one of the most skilled archers in the world. When the original Merlyn retired, Arthur took up the name of Merlyn for himself, and began quite a career as a solo performer. Oliver Queen knew of the deeds of this new Merlyn far before his shipwreck on Starfish Island, but he wasn’t much interested at the time. When his experience on the island changed him, and he came back to society, starting the hero career of the Green Arrow, Merlyn became very interested in this new archer, who threatened to steal the show from him. From archer to archer, Merlyn publicly challenged Green Arrow to an archery contest, the winner gaining the title of “best archer in the world”. The Arrow accepted, curious of his rival’s skills, and the challenge occurred: unexpectedly, Merlyn won, took the title, and disappeared for some years, leaving the new hero with his humiliation.
During his travels around the world, Merlyn immediately understood the possibilities opened for him: using his skills, proven to be the world’s finest, he could have become also one of the richest man in the world. Not in the good way, of course. Merlyn gave himself to crime, and acted on his own until he met the League of Assassins, some sort of cult claiming to protect the world by purifying it from its worst inhabitants. The leader of the League, Ra’s al Ghul, was quite impressed with Merlyn’s skills, and offered him a place in his big family. Merlyn accepted, and became a world-renowned assassin. He worked mostly outside America, until the moment he was sent to Gotham City to kill one of the biggest threats for the League: the vigilante known as Batman. Merlyn almost succeeded in his task, but, at the last moment, the arrow aimed to Batman’s heart was deviated by another arrow, which hit his own sending it away: the second one was shot by Green Arrow, who, in the meantime, had greatly increased his skills. Recognizing that the hero had now become the best archer, Merlyn flew, avoiding the capture. Anyway, he knew the punishment for a missed target, and never came back to Ra’s al Ghul and the League. He became instead a free-lance assassin, selling his abilities to the best bidder. During the years, he entered many teams (The 100, the Injustice League, the Anti-Justice League, the Killer Elite and Luthor’s Secret Society of Super Villains, to cite the most important ones), and befriended some colleagues, like the world’s best assassin Deadshot and the lordly Monocle. Despite fighting many heroes in his adventures, he always kept a special arrow in his quiver for Green Arrow, his only true rival.
Merlyn, the man once known as Arthur King, is a deadly assassin, with no morality nor remorse. He is easily one of the world’s best archers, his skills being second only to Green Arrow’s. Like the hero, he doesn’t use only common arrows, but also special Trick Arrows he created himself. His quiver is also a jet pack, that Merlyn uses for emergency escapes. Along with a complete mastery over archery, Merlyn is also an extremely skilled hand-to-hand combatant, having learnt martial arts from the greatest masters of the League of Assassins. He’s an extremely dangerous man, who would kill anyone for a good price.