The exact origins of Merlyn are shrouded in mystery as his past is filled with contradiction, intentional misdirection, and manipulations. Many have posed as Merlin which also suited his ends. What is known is that Merlyn is one of the central beings of Otherworld a realm outside of the Omniverse and has charged himself with manipulating events for the benefit of the continued existence of all reality. Merlyn is part of a gestalt that links himself with all of his alternate selves in the various realities in the Multiverse, thereby confusing matters even further. Indeed these facts may never be unraveled or made sense of as even the Watcher stated that Merlyn lives both "backwards" and "sideways" in time.
Myraddin of Ruta
The earliest record of Merlyn can be ascribed to a man named Myraddin whose origins and tales were rife with contradictions, connotations, and references to the Arthurian legend many centuries before those legends came to fruition.
As this legend went, Myraddin of Ruta lived on an island called Avalon, a land mass that was once part of Atlantis that survived the Great Cataclysm which occurred around 18000 BC. When the final Priest of the Sun learned of a prophecy that a great fire would destroy Avalon, he sent Myraddin along with all of his ancient artifacts and scrolls along with the priestess Igraine and her daughter Morgan to safety as Avalon was destroyed in a massive volcanic eruption.
What followed was a similar recounting of Arthurian legend, including the priestess marrying a man named Goloris of the Tin Islands, Goloris being slain by King Uther who then married Igraine and bore a son named Arthur and that when Morgan reached adolescence she accompanied Myraddin to the Aran Island under his tutelage.
Origins of Merlyn (Earth-148)
On Earth-148, it was believed that Merlyn was born on an alternate earth as a member of a race of immortal, powerful beings. He became the student of Necrom, his world's Sorcerer Supreme. Necrom asked Merlyn and his fellow-student Feron to assist him in a magical ritual. Feron contacted the cosmic Phoenix Force on Earth-616 and using the Phoenix an alignment was created between parallel universes. This assignment was marked with a tower in the same place on every Earth in the Omniverse. According to magical principles, such an alignment would create a matrix of nearly endless magical energy. Necrom desired the power of the Phoenix for himself and he attacked Feron. Feron, his powers enhanced by the Phoenix, battled his master and Merlyn used the opportunity to jump into the Matrix, taking its power for his own. Necrom wounded the Phoenix and escaped with a small part of it. The Phoenix left Feron who stayed behind on Earth-616, dedicating his life to asking the Phoenix for forgiveness.
Merlyn travelled to Otherworld and established himself as Omniversal Guardian, safeguarding the total of all universes in existence. With the powers of the Matrix, Merlyn dedicated himself to protecting the universe and finding Necrom. Necrom hid and planned for the next few centuries, changing the part of the Phoenix Force that he had stolen into the Anti-Phoenix.
Ties to the Arthurian Legend
The origins of Merlyn on Earth-616 are steeped in the Arthurian myth of Camelot and contradict the events the origins that are said to have occurred on Earth-148.
On Earth-616, the legends stated that Merlyn (or Merlin as he is commonly known in that realm) was the son of a demon and the virginal daughter of King Conann of Dryfed in a region that is now known as Wales located on the Island of Great Britain. Learning that she was seduced by a demon who posed as a knight, Merlin's mother consulted a priest and agreed to drink holy water and become a nun under a vow of chastity to ensure that her son would not become inherently evil upon his birth. As a young boy living in the town of Carmarthen, Merlin was captured by King Vortigem who sought to sacrifice the boy as part of a ritual that would allow him to build a tower in the Welsh mountains. Merlin's powers revealed that the reason the construction of the tower failed in the past was due to a pool beneath its foundation. When Vortigem and his men investigated they unleashed the dragons that were imprisoned there and both parties slew each other. Merlin saw this as an omen that foretold the coming of a great kingdom and its king that would one day rise and rule over the a United England.
Foreseeing that this king would come from Vortigem's successor, King Uther Pendragon, Merlin sought to manipulate events so that his omen would come to pass. During his reign King Uther clashed with Gorlois the Duke of Tintagel. During these conflicts Uther became attracted to Gorlois' wife Igraine. Merlin played on Uther's carnal desires by using his magics to make Uther appear to be Gorlois to facilitate a coupling between Uther and Igraine, in exchange for ownership of Uther's firstborn son. As fate would have it, Gorlois was slain in battle and Uther wed Igraine, who begat the king a son: Arthur. Arthur was given to Merlin, who left the boy in the care of the knight Sir Ector with Merlin acting as tutor for the boy in the years to come, he later instructed Uther to construct the Round Table that would become part of the legend of the future King Arthur. Also during this period, Merlin befriended Arthur's distant relative, the Baron of Scandia, and remained a friend of the family, another part of his plans that would see fruition in the future.
Following the death of Uther, Britain was torn asunder to find a successor to the throne. Once again Merlin's manipulations saw his omens come true: Creating the sword Excalibur and embedding it in stone, he told the people that their next ruler would be able to successfully pull the sword from the stone would become the successor to the throne of England. As Merlin ordained, Arthur pulled the sword from the stone and was crowned the next king of England. Merlin remained with Arthur and was his advisor over the coming decades. However King Arthur briefly romanced Queen Morgause, who unknown to him was the daughter of Gorlois and Igraine, making her his half-sister. This coupling begot a son, Mordred whom Merlin warned would bring the downfall of Camelot. In time, Merlin began teaching sorcery to Morgan le Fay, sister of Morgause, who became his lover in return. As Morgan and Merlin worked together, Morgan began to worship the Earth goddess Gaea, but their romance ended when Merlin seemingly turned his back on Gaea, leading to a six day battle outside Avalon's altar of sacred trees. As Mordred reached adulthood and began plotting the downfall of Camelot, Merlin sought out Sir Percy of Scandia to be the champion of Camelot, training him in all forms of combat.
Camelot - 6th Century AD
During the golden age of Camelot, Merlin continued his duties as advisor to King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table while working in secret to try and prevent Camelot's fall.
The earliest recorded activities of Merlin during this period involved him manipulating the 20th century time traveler known as Tommy Tyme into coming back to the 6th Century to assist King Arthur and his knights in rescuing a maiden from the clutches of an evil Black Knight. Later, Merlin defended Arthur and Queen Guinevere from the demon Asmodair and his son Belair who sought to slay Arthur.
Continuing his plans to install Sir Percy as his agent against Mordred, Merlin came into the possession of a Starstone meteorite, unaware that he was assisted by Professor Justin Alphonse Gamble of the Time Variance Authority who had thwarted his foes the Incinerators from obtaining it. Merlin obtained the meteor by bartering his Book of Skelos in exchange. Merlin used the Starstone to construct the Ebony Blade. Merlin attempted to find one worthy to wield the Ebony Blade. All those who used it became corrupt and driven mad, forcing Merlin to kill them. He eventually realized that the sword could not corrupt one who was truly pure at heart. Also during this period, Merlin amassed what was later referred to as the "Merlin Stones" and defeated the tyrant known as Sir Morgard with an animated suit of armor he dubbed "The Black Knight".
Shortly thereafter Merlin called upon Sir Percy and sent him to Camelot under a pose as a cowardly fop in order to avoid suspicion of being Merlin's champion. Merlin then tipped Sir Percy off about an attempt on King Arthur's life by assassins hired by Mordred and Morgan le Fay. The Black Knight thwarted this attempt and was officially knighted by King Arthur. Following this victory, Merlin took the Black Knight to the secret Pool of Blood where he presented the Knight with weapons forged out of the Starstone: A lance, staff, shield and sword. He told him of the coming fall of Camelot and that the right choice of weapon could prevent the prophecies. The Black Knight chose the Ebony Blade and Merlin seemingly destroyed all the other weapons, unaware that Mordred and Morgan le Fay managed to preserve the Ebony Staff, setting in motion the events that would see the downfall of Camelot. Shortly thereafter, when King Arthur went missing and Mordred took control of the throne, Merlin informed the Black Knight that the King was locked in the castle dungeon. The Black Knight freed King Arthur who then reclaimed his throne. During the course of this mission Merlin showed Sir Percy secret passage ways within the castle that allowed him to better preserve his identity by allowing him to travel freely in the castle.
Merlin's crystal ball later revealed another plot by Mordred to eliminate King Arthur by challenging him to a joust with a poison laced lance. Merlin warned the Black Knight who took Mordred's challenge instead and easily defeated him. When the Black Knight was injured in a contest, Merlin helped his agent escape before he could be unmasked. When Mordred determined that Sir Percy had similar injuries as the Black Knight, Merlin briefly posed as the Knight in order to maintain Sir Percy's double identity. On the King's birthday, Merlin warned the Black Knight that Mordred had hired Gypsies to murder King Arthur while on a lion hunt. This plot was also thwarted. When King Arthur and his ward Lady Rosamund were kidnapped by French-Sicilian pirates under the employ of Mordred, Merlin used his magic to help the Black Knight locate the island they were being held prisoner on, allowing the hero to rescue them. Merlin later warned the Sir Percy of a danger posed by Mohar Jinn of the Tartars. When Mohar Jinn took over Camelot, Merlin helped sneak the Black Knight into the castle where he defeated Mohar Jinn in combat and retook Camelot for King Arthur.
Merlin was briefly transported to the Balkan mountains circa the 20th Century. There he found that he was summoned because his diary was found by an American tourist who scoffed at the existence of magic. Merlin then transported him to the 6th Century to teach him the errors of his way before returning the man to the 20th Century.
Not long after this, recently exiled Roman emperor Tyrannus attempted to invade Camelot but was defeated by the Black Knight. Merlin then banished him to Subterranea. Following this, Merlin and the Black Knight left Camelot to clash with Mordan le Fay, and Merlin was briefly impersonated by an impostor known as the Maha Yogi. One account states that around this time, Merlin banished the demon Chthon within his prison in Wundagore Mountain. However, after constant conflict with Morgan le Fay, Merlin was incapable of preventing the young mage Modred the Mystic from falling under the influence of Chthon upon using the Book of the Darkhold. It took the combination of Merlin and the Catholic Church's Sir Brendan to combine their power to defeat the Darkhold and entomb Modred, whom remained in entombed for many centuries. Likewise, when Merlin returned home to Camelot, he found the Maha Yogi impersonating him and also entombed the impostor for centuries to come.
The Fall of Camelot
Captain Britain Corps
At some point after the Necrom incident and possibly either during, after, or possibly simultaneously to his time in Camelot-616, Merlyn founded the Captain Britain Corps, a group of matrix-powered superheroes based on each Earth in the omniverse. Merlyn sent his best agent, Sir James Braddock, to Earth-616 to father a hero. James' first son, Jamie Braddock, was unsuitable for Merlyn's purposes, but the twins Elizabeth and Brian both were. Merlyn chose Brian to become Earth-616's Captain Britain and he would be pivotal to Merlyn's plans.
Over the years, Merlyn manipulated Brian to become a stronger and wiser hero. He called him to Otherworld again while his body lay unconscious after a fight with Lord Hawk to test his skills and award him with the star sceptre. He partnered Brian with the Black Knight (another of Merlyn's champions, like the bizarrely named Kilgore Slaughter) to teach him more about magic. Merlyn used Brian to stop Mad Jim Jaspers, a reality warping mutant who threatened the fabric of the multiverse itself. Merlyn seemingly died in the battle between Jaspers and the cyborg monstrosity called The Fury. Merlyn was buried and his daughter Roma took over as Omniversal Guardian.
Merlyn faked his death though and hid, even from his daughter. In secret he manipulated his daughter and Captain Britain to form Excalibur, a team of superheroes, who would become his weapon against Necrom. Excalibur would take the tower that was part of the Matrix as their base, not knowing the true meaning of this building. Necrom resurfaced and fought Excalibur. In the battle, Rachel Summers killed Necrom and Merlyn appeared to congratulate Excalibur. Excalibur were furious at Merlyn for manipulating them and endangering them all. Roma, also disappointed in her father's callous behavior, assisted Excalibur in destroying their tower and by extension the Matrix. Merlyn left in a rage at losing his source of power.
Merlyn and Roma both met occasionally on Otherworld, but Merlyn didn't retake his position as Omniversal Guardian, trusting his daughter to protect the Omniverse. He was nowhere to be seen when Mastermind took over Otherworld or during the House of M reality warp that briefly supplanted Earth-616 with Earth-58163.
When reality was restored once again, it also resurrected Mad Jim Jaspers, who in turn was infected with the original Fury of Earth-238. Merlin apparently driven mad as well came to assist Jaspers in destroying Otherworld and his daughter slaying or infecting many of his Corps with the Fury virus in the process. The conflict eventually drew in both the latest incarnation of Excalibur and the reality hopping Exiles who came to Roma's defense. During the conflict, Roma was fatally stabbed by Merlyn who only suffered a cut on the foot during the conflict. However Merlyn was forced to flee when faced with the heros after himself being infected with the Fury virus. While Roma died, she managed to transfer all her knowledge into Excalibur's Sage.
Merlyn eventually resurfaced and went after the knowledge Sage had absorbed from his daughter. He confronted Sage, now a member of the Exiles, at their base the Panoptichron where Sage was in a struggle with the conflicting personalities that now occupied her head, including her Diana Fox personality. Sage ended up fighting a losing battle due to the other personalities in her mind trying to take control and just when she seemed lost, Diana Fox came to her aid and fought back against Merlyn. However the two aspects realized that the only way they could defeat Merlyn was to merge together becoming a new unified form of Sage, driving Merlyn away to points unknown.
|Power Grid |
Merlyn’s potential for good stems from the factor of his mortal mother drinking holy water and receiving blessings from her priest, as well as becoming a nun, thus preventing the demon that had seduced her to transfer its impure influence upon her unborn child.
Merlyn has many immense magical powers, possibly related to his immortality, and has also trained himself so that he as developed other powers. He is seemingly multiversal, though he can make duplicates of himself as perceived necessary. He can create illusions, change his shape, observe other realities, raise the dead, levitate, thought-cast, hypnotize, astral project, and manipulate energy in various ways such as powerful mystic energy bolts. Sometimes he uses advanced technology to help him. He has claimed in the past to be the Merlin who aided King Arthur at Camelot, and there is evidence to support this, though it is not really possible to separate the truth about Merlyn from the web of half truths he has woven around himself.
Merlyn remains one of the most powerful and renowned sorcerers of all time, having tutored the incredibly powerful Morgan le Fay, whose mastery of magic was so great that she was able to kill the Sentry, turn a God of War into stone, and survive the destruction of her physical and astral form many times, surpassing that of Doctor Strange, and it was said in that nothing on the planet of that time could stop Merlyn if ever he were to fall prey to the corruption of the Ebony Blade,New Excalibur #12 during a time of his great age, indicating vast power and skill indeed.
Merlyn’s powers are from obscure sources: he, unlike his disciple Morgan, he does not evoke Gaea, as he turned away from the Celtic faith, nor did he appear to summon the power of mystical entities; even the many artifacts he utilized do not appear to be a primary source of his magic. Merlyn relies upon his innate mystical talents and resources as well as manipulating the ambient mystical energy of Camelot and the Marvel Universe; he is called a "sorcerer," and thus he must use either extradimensional and/or ambient magic of some kind, just like Doctor Strange, in contrast to the Celtic Earth mystic rituals and inherent talents of Doctor Druid.
Merlyn has been shown to be able to even tear shooting stars from the sky and hurl them at Morgan, maintaining such a fierce battle for six days, even at the weakening point of his power at his elderly age. Merlyn has also proven capable of trapping Morgan le Fay with a permanent enchantment so potent not even her mastery of magic and mystical resources could enable her to undo or even directly bypass, as well as charming the Ebony Blade, granting it the permanent ability to confer upon its wielder a form of immortality, preventing him from being killed while wielding it, and forging a powerful bond between blade and wielder, enabling the wielder to reach the Ebony Blade through ritual across time and space if ever it were to be lost.
However, it is shown that Merlyn has clear limits to his power, especially in his old age. For example, the Darkhold’s power is so vast it took the combined strength and will of both Merlyn and Brendan to contain it, and even together, they were unable to destroy it or its power, thus indicating even a fraction of the might of an Elder God can dwarf Merlyn's own formidable mystical skills, at least while not in his prime. Mordred also seemed to believe that use of the Darkhold would grant him sufficient strength to challenge Merlyn himself.
Merlyn is capable of entering the sea of time as well, traveling many centuries into the modern day, maintaining a physical disguise, and easily return to Camelot, despite the fact that physical teleportation through time is said to be the most energy-draining feat of all. More so space or interdimensional magical travel, and even the Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange is said to be mystically debilitated after such a feat.
Merlyn also bears the natural gift of foresight, and even as a child was able to see and know much of that which has yet to come, making him a seer, peering far into the fates of all but himself, his greatest curse, yet also perhaps his greatest gift. This, combined with his high-level sensory abilities, such as when Merlyn detected the nexus being Kang the Conqueror’s presence in Camelot and the rising power of the Darkhold, makes Merlyn aware of much of what transpires and shall transpire in Camelot. It seems these are “definite” futures”: there can be no changing them, and they are not alternate, or possible, in nature: Merlyn predicted Guinevere, Lancelot, and Modred would bring about the end of Camelot, and even his own magic and efforts were not enough to avert the path preordained.
Merlyn in his spirit form has been able to cast a spell enabling Sir Percy to “live through another” if Modred ever walked the land again as the Knight lay there dying. Merlyn, even as a child, was able to quickly reveal the dragons beneath the foundations of Vortigern’s castle. Merlyn used his magic to help King Uther Pendragon’s men move Stonehenge to Britain. Merlyn can also cast perfect illusion spells of considerable complexity; he once gave Uther the exact guise of Gorlois, as well as changing his own form and disguising himself as others, such as the son of the arch-demon Asmodiar, Beliar. Merlyn may have even possibly caused the creation of the Sword in the Stone, and have placed the spell upon it allowing only Arthur to pull it forth and rise to true glory as he realized his ultimate destiny.
Merlyn can seal others, such as the Myth Monster, within enchanted amulets, as well as enchanting gems with the ability to grant their owner invincibility, called the Merlyn Stones, whose powers last still to this day. Merlyn can animate inanimate objects, such as suits of armor, simultaneously teleport both mystical and non-mystical objects to the Pool of Blood, cast spells causing various potent power-objects to be forged from the Starstone, summon nimbuses of light to destroy items made from the Starstone which are deemed to be virtually impervious to damage, change one’s hair color white permanently even if that being hails from the future, send such beings back to their own time, banish others to Subterranea, imprison Elder Gods within mountains, stabilize the tears in reality Iron Man and Doctor Doom’s presence were creating, cast spells to protect Excalibur, show others visions of alternate futures to others even in an astral form, among other great feats.
Merlyn has a genius intellect and is extensively self-taught in mystical lore.
As Merlin grew elderly his physical frailty limited his stamina when manipulating great amounts of magical energy, just as in the case of the Sorcerer Supreme the Ancient One centuries later.
Merlin is armed with a scrying and communicating crystal ball, dust to render humans unconscious, the Iron-bound Book of Skelos, the Stones of Merlin, the Obsidian Stone, which is possibly the same as the Merlin Stones, used by Victor von Doom as Sorcerer Supreme on Earth-938 to seal Dormammu and the entire Dark Dimension within, and various other magical objects. He is also seen with a pouch and a sword hanging from his leather belt which may possess mystical qualities, along with a wooden walking staff and a pointed, cone-shaped blue hat.
Teleportation, considerable manual walking.
- 167 Appearances of Merlyn (Otherworld)
- 7 Minor Appearances of Merlyn (Otherworld)
- Media Merlyn (Otherworld) was Mentioned in
- 20 Images featuring Merlyn (Otherworld)
- 8 Quotations by or about Merlyn (Otherworld)
- Character Gallery: Merlyn (Otherworld)
Discover and Discuss
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- ↑ Captain Britain #34
- ↑ Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #1
- ↑ What If? Vol 2 #35
- ↑ Namor the Sub-Mariner #62
- ↑ Excalibur #50
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol 2 #8
- ↑ Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol 2 #16
- ↑ Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Vol 2 #9
- ↑ Mystic Arcana Black Knight #1
- ↑ Young Allies #11
- ↑ Marvel Preview #22
- ↑ Avengers Annual #22
- ↑ New Excalibur #12
- ↑ Dazzler #3
- ↑ Strange Tales #108
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Black Knight #1
- ↑ Marvel Super-Heroes #17
- ↑ Black Knight #2
- ↑ Black Knight #3
- ↑ Black Knight #4
- ↑ Black Knight #5
- ↑ Strange Tales #71
- ↑ Avengers Annual #20
- ↑ Incredible Hulk #5
- ↑ 25.0 25.1 Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #11
- ↑ Spider-Woman #41
- ↑ Marvel Chillers #1
- ↑ Incredible Hulk #210
- ↑ Captain Britain #1-2
- ↑ Captain Britain #33-37
- ↑ X-Men: Die by the Sword #1
- ↑ X-Men: Die by the Sword #3
- ↑ X-Men: Die by the Sword #4
- ↑ X-Men: Die by the Sword #5
- ↑ New Exiles #15
- ↑ New Exiles #16
- ↑ New Exiles #17
- ↑ Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z hardcover Vol. 7
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