Fans waiting for the “Arrowverse” to get a little bigger don’t have to wait much longer.
Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) might not be getting his own spinoff show — yet — but he’s getting his much-deserved backstory in the comic book Arrow: The Dark Archer written by John & Carole Barrowman, the collected edition of which is available in stores now.
The comic tells the hidden history of Malcolm Merlyn, including how he met his wife and accrued his seemingly endless fortune, all while slotting seamlessly into the time between Season 3 and 4 of the Arrow TV show. If you were ever curious about Malcolm’s many, many secrets, prepare to get some awesome answers.
Zap2it spoke with both Barrowman siblings about the creative process behind the comic as well as what Arrow fans can expect to learn from this latest installment.
Zap2it: When did you guys come up with the idea to turn Malcolm’s backstory into a comic book?
John Barrowman: I was on the toilet, Carole was vomiting in the bathtub next to me. We’d both been drinking …
Carole Barrowman: Actually, every time we finish a project, when we get close to the end of it, we really do try to have the next one lined up. The challenge that we have now is that we’ve got a whole bunch of them all stacked instead of lined up. John, you should tell her how it all actually kicked off though.
JB: I’d had an idea to create a Torchwood type group for DC with a couple of characters that were in the DC vault and hadn’t been seen in a long time. So I talked to Carole about this idea, and I said, “You know what I’m also going to do? I’d like to go ahead and pitch doing the backstory to Malcolm Merlyn.” Because Malcolm always appears and is always kind of coming out of the shadows. He’s very static. There’s no reason, there’s no backstory, there’s no telling of how he’s made his money. We decided to go back and do that. I pitched it to Geoff Johns and a bunch of the other people at DC … They said let’s run with it!
And was it a big collaboration or mostly from you guys?
JB: They kind of gave us, in a way, carte blanche in the sense that we came up with the story and the idea. We also figure out all those questions that I know the fans wanted to know that they ask me in panels or when they meet me. We covered it all, and Arrow: The Dark Archer is what came out of it. It was a collaboration with my sister, myself, and Daniel Sampere and Juan Albarran. I think it’s a pretty awesome depiction of Malcolm’s story.
Would you say this project was harder or easier than your other novels?
CB: I think one of the things that we’ve always done — and I’d say this is true even of our autobiographies — is that when we get together at the start of the process, we kind of plot out the arc, and we tend to think in terms of storyboarding. It’s quite cinematic … We’re TV generation kids, and we love television, we love film, so I think our style is very much a visual kind style and that worked really naturally for us, doing a comic.
Was there any input from Greg Berlanti or anyone on the Arrow team?
JB: To be honest, I don’t even know if any of the producers have read this, but we went in and told Greg Berlanti before Season 4. We went in to talk about Malcolm’s trajectory for the season, and while we were there, we told him we were doing this. We took this on as a separate entity to the TV show because we wanted to do it as fans and also for the creative process.
If the producers do read it and like it, I’d love to see it jump onto the screen because I think there’s a lot of stuff in there that the fans would like. I know Mark Pedowitz is a fan of mine, and he’s the head of the network. As soon as I get a couple more editions I’m going to send him one and let him read it, so you know, who knows what will happen?
A potential Malcolm Merlyn spinoff, maybe?
JB: That would be awesome.
CB: That would be so fun!
On that note, how would you guys like to see this story incorporated into Arrow if it ever came to that?
CB: I think one of the things that we tried to do is that even though it’s a separate story, and it happens between Season 3 and Season 4, we wanted it to connect and be an arc. We wanted it to connect to Malcolm’s more mysterious past, but then we touched on things that viewers want to know. For example, it connects to how he met his wife. It also connects to how he has so much wealth and cool places and cool cars. How did he get that money? What was he like as a younger man? We really wanted to play with the idea that at the beginning of every Arrow episode Oliver says, “My name is Oliver Queen,” so we start with, “My name is Malcolm Merlyn,” and then you’re three or four pages into the comic and bam! You realize no, it’s not.
JB: I don’t know if the comic will have any influence on the TV show. Like, they call some of the comics Arrow Volume 2.5, so it’s in between Season 2 and Season 3. I think the comics need to also stand alone.
Can you tease any Arrow characters that we might see in The Dark Archer?
JB: Well you’ve already got Nyssa. Nyssa pops up very quickly. You do also get a little glimpse of Ra’s al Ghul prior to Malcolm becoming R’as.
If you’d like to see exactly what a Malcolm Merlyn-centric spinoff would be like, you’re in luck.
The collected edition of Dark Archer can be picked up now wherever books are sold and Zap2it is giving away an autographed copy, signed by John Barrowman himself!
That’s not enough you say? Well thanks to DC Collectibles, we’re also including a Malcolm Merlyn collectible action figure.
This prize pack could be yours, all you have to do is enter at the bottom of this page!
The contest is open from Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 12 a.m. ET through Wednesday, Sept. 14 at 12 a.m. ET. You must be over 18 to win and a resident of the U.S. or Canada. One winner will be selected at random.
Good luck and Arrow returns Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. CW33!