FACES OF EVIL FLASHBACK: Jericho & Merlyn

Wed, January 21st, 2009 at 11:28am PST | Updated: January 21st, 2009 at 11:29am

Comic Books
Brian K. Eason, Guest Contributor

"Titans" #9 on sale now

Continuing with the January 2009 **Faces of Evil** campaign, whereby the villains of the DC Universe take center stage in a series of one-shots and special issues of existing series, "Titans" #9 features former Teen Titan and son of Deathstroke, the body-jumping Jericho. Over in "Green Arrow/Black Canary" #16, Merlyn the Ebon Archer returns to face off against the titular heroes.  

With “Titans” #9 and “Green Arrow/Black Canary” #16 on sale now, CBR looks back on the history of these intriguing bad guys.

JERICHO 

Joseph William Wilson first appeared in “Tales of the Teen Titans” #42 (May 1984), and was created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez. Joey was the younger of two sons of Slade Wilson, the mercenary villain Deathstroke. When Jericho was a young boy, he was taken hostage by a terrorist known as the Jackal, who thought to use Joey to get Deathstroke to reveal some information. Slade refused and instead attempted to rescue his boy. While Deathstroke's attempt was successful, Joey's throat was cut in the process, destroying the young Jericho's ability to speak. Slade's wife Adeline took the children and divorced him, but not before shooting and blinding him in one eye. Adeline took her two sons, Joey and his older brother Grant, and left.  

Joey’s mother founded her own organization, Searchers, Inc., and he began working with the group, learning combat and paramilitary skills. During a mission, Jericho discovered he possessed a superhuman power – he could take on a ghost form and, after making eye contact, step inside another person's body and control their motor functions but not their mind. Victims have been known to voice their outrage and terror as Jericho puppeteers them from within, and in rare cases where the victim had been rendered unconscious, Jericho has taken control of their voice as well. Using American Sign Language as his everyday form of communication, Jericho will often make the sign for the letter "J" to indicate that he is in control of a person. 

Jericho is defined by his relationship to Deathstroke anf the Titans

It was through Searchers, Inc. that Joey joined the Teen Titans, with whom he eventually brought his evil father to justice. Now going by the name Jericho, Joey became a full member of the team and began to develop a bond with Raven. Sadly, this ended in tragedy when Jericho came to the attention of Trigon, Raven's demonic father. When the souls of Azarath, tainted by Trigon, sought a host to survive, they entered Joey.

The souls granted Jericho a new ability, a spirit form that took the aspect of a lion. They also repaired the damage to his throat, allowing him to speak. The souls, however, could not survive in a single host, and drove Jericho to seek out metahumans to serve as vessels for Azarath. Using his new powers, Jericho took control of a group of former HIV agents called the Wildebeest society, and set about kidnapping former members of the Teen Titans. Nightwing and Donna Troy gathered new agents -- including Deathstroke -- to infiltrate the Wildebeest lair. During the ensuing battle, Joey regained control of his mind and begged his father to kill him. Deathstroke reluctantly drove his sword through Jericho's heart, apparently killing his son.

After his death in "The New Titans" #83 (February 1992), Jericho was not seen for eleven years. Deathstroke later discovered that Jericho's soul had survived death and taken up residence in his own body. Jericho-Deathstroke went looking for the Teen Titans, but instead found the newly re-formed team composed of Tim Drake, Connor Kent, Cassandra Sandsmark, and Bart Allen. Jericho’s true identity was discovered when he abandoned his father's body to possess one Titan after another. Finally, Joey’s spirit was captured by his old teammate Raven and transferred into a computer file by the team leader, Cyborg.  

Jericho's constant possessing of other people's bodies caused him harm over time

Using one of Brother Blood's resurrection rituals, Raven cleansed Jericho of the souls of Azarath and restored him to life. Jericho rejoined the Teen Titans, meeting Deathstroke's youngest child, Rose (Ravager) in the process.

In "Teen Titans" #46 (June 2007), Jericho was forced to possess the body of Superboy's bizarro clone, Match. After the battle, Jericho was unable to free himself from the monster and left the team once again.

Jericho appeared most recently in the pages of "DC Universe: Decisions" #4 (October 2008). In the story, Jericho was once again portrayed as a villain. After a short battle with Hal Jordan, Jericho was captured and taken for study. Mento of the Doom Patrol scanned Joey's mind and discovered that years of body-hopping had given Jericho a dissociative identity disorder that caused his kind and gentle disposition to be overridden by the stronger evil patterns of those he possessed. Joseph was moved to STAR Labs in a hope of finding a cure.  

Jericho returns in the pages of "Titans" #9, on sale now. 

MERLYN 

"Green Arrow/Black Canary" #16 on sale now

Renowned as the world's greatest archer, Merlyn made his debut in "Justice League of America" #94 (November 1971), featuring art by the legendary Neal Adams. When Oliver Queen was a child, he saw Merlyn perform and was in awe of his skill. Years later, after Queen had taken on the identity of Green Arrow, Merlyn challenged him to an archery contest. The Emerald Archer accepted and was defeated by his childhood idol. The victorious Merlyn then disappeared for many years, returning as a member of the League of Assassins, with a contract to kill the Batman. The assassination attempt failed when Green Arrow deflected Merlyn's arrow and the villain conceded that Queen had become the superior archer. Unable to return to the League of Assassins, who would have surely killed him for his failure, Merlyn became a mercenary assassin. 

Merlyn was next seen in the pages of "Action Comics" #443 (January 1975) as a member of Queen Bee's Injustice Gang. Merlyn was able to capture Green Arrow and Black Canary, but in the end, the villains were defeated. In "Black Lightning" #2 (May 1977), Merlyn enjoyed a bigger role, again as a contract killer working for Tobias Whale. The story "Merlyn Means Murder," featured a pitched battle with Green Arrow and saw Black Lightning's identity revealed. In the end, an amnesia drug was used to erase the memory of the hero's identity, but it was never given to Merlyn, who, presumably, still possesses this knowledge. 

1995’s "Underworld Unleashed" saw Merlyn among those villains who sold their souls to the demon Neron. He also was a member of the short-lived team called the Killer Elite (along with Deadshot, Bolt, and others). 

Green Arrow and Merlyn are evenly matched

Merlyn's biggest role finally came in the pages of 2004’s "Identity Crisis," where he served as a point-of-view voice for the villains and as a counter-point to Green Arrow, who served the same role for the heroes. In the story, Merlyn was shown as a cunning thinker and predicted the murder of Elongated Man’s wife Sue Dibny would have consequences across the meta-criminal subculture. After his defeat and capture at the hands of the Justice League, Merlyn returned to bedevil the Green Arrow family as an agent of the Secret Society of Super-Villains in "Green Arrow" #57-#59 (February-April 2006). 

As an expert in combat and tactics, Merlyn has been employed as a tutor to at least two members of the Batman family. As a member of the League of Assassins, he aided in the training of Cassandra Cain, who would one day become Batgirl and he was hired by Talia al Ghul to train Damiean, the son of Talia and the Batman. And in "Young Justice" #24 (October 2000), Merlyn appeared as a member of the Zandian Olympic team, as an instructor to the Zandian archer Turk. 

On sale now, "Green Arrow/Black Canary" #16 features the return of Merlyn and another classic duel between the world’s two greatest archers. 

TAGS:  faces of evil, jericho, merlyn, dc comics, titans

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