Real Name: Dolen (first name unrevealed)
Identity/Class: Transtemporal human technology user (1950s era to 6th Century)
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: King Arthur (see comments)
Known Relatives: None
Aliases: Dolan; "Merlin" (see comments)
Base of Operations: 6th Century Camelot;
originally his workshop in the 20th Century
First Appearance: Strange Worlds#4/2 (June, 1959)
Powers/Abilities: Professor Dolen was a normal human who discovered the plans for a time machine while researching the legend of Merlin. After building the time machine, he used the device to travel back to 6th Century England, where his knowledge of modern science--along with the paraphernalia he happened to bring with him--made the people of that era believe him to be a sorcerer.
Height: 5'8" (by
Weight: 160 lbs. (by approximation)
(Strange Worlds#4/2 (fb)) - The past of Professor Dolen is largely unrevealed, but he theorized that the legendary Merlin the Magician was actually a man from the future who went back to ancient times in a time machine, and that his superior knowledge and abilities just appeared to be magical to the people of that era. Although he was laughed at by his doubting colleagues, Dolen became obsessed and immersed himself in heavy research on Merlin; by studying some ancient scrolls, he was able to construct the strange time machine that was hinted at in the dim, long-lost record. After he activated the machine, Dolen began his voyage back to that bygone age--although he couldn't pick the exact spot where he'd appear, Dolen knew it would be in the vicinity of Camelot, and he should therefore have no trouble finding Merlin...
(Strange Worlds#4/2) - The humming time machine appeared somewhere in 6th Century England, where it startled a knight on horseback; but just as the knight's steed bolted away in fear of the "creature's" roar, the time machine began to smoke and burst into flames--Dolen made it out just before the device exploded. With the destruction of his only way back home, Dolen realized that he was now committed to remain in this time-period forever; but then a thought occurred to him: Merlin (according to Dolen's theory) also came by time machine, so maybe he could help Dolen return to his own time.
Dolen began to aimlessly wander, then he asked for directions to Camelot from a man driving a horse-drawn car. The man told him that Camelot was ruled by the good King Arthur, and it was 300 leagues to the north, but the man admitted that he had never heard of anyone named "Merlin."
While passing through a larger town, Dolen was told by the townsfolk that although they had heard of such knights as Lancelot and Gawain, they had never heard of any so-called magician named "Merlin."
On Dolen's continuing journey toward Camelot, he stopped at the village of Chedon, where history told him Merlin had once lived. While spending some months in Chedon, Dolen amazed many of the simple-minded townsfolk with his knowledge of scientific principles, and with his use of the commonplace items he had brought with him--a cigarette lighter, a wristwatch, and a penlight.
But the longer Dolen remained in Chedon, the more he began to doubt his theory, for not a single person there had ever heard the name of "Merlin." Dolen grew depressed as he thought that maybe his friends were right and he had been wrong, for it seemed that Merlin had never existed. Then a knight rode up to Dolen with orders for him to report to King Arthur. Since he figured Arthur must know where Merlin was, Dolen eagerly accompanied the knight, and his spirits were soaring as he went to his audience with the king.
Having heard of the "mystic feats of magic" performed by this mysterious stranger (Dolen), and needing a court magician, Arthur appointed Dolen to fill the vacant position, and he then dubbed Dolen as "Merlin," the very name Dolen himself had created!
Dolen was stunned when he realized that by a strange time-paradox, he had come back through the centuries to find Merlin, and he had only found himself!
Comments: Created by an unidentified writer and Steve Ditko.
This 5-page story--A Magician Walks Among Us!--had one caption (on p2, pan4) where the character's name was spelled as "Dolan"; but his name was spelled "Dolen" three other times (including in his though-balloon on p1, pan1, where he referred to himself by that spelling), so I went with that as his official name.
In regards to the rules of time-travel in the Marvel Universe: It has been established that when individuals go backwards or forwards in time, they do not actually travel in their own timeline, but are instead shunted into an alternate universe.
Although the origins of the true Merlin/Merlyn
are shrouded in mystery, more than likely this story ain't it. I would
speculate that perhaps Professor Dolen was from Earth-616 and he was
shunted into an alternate Earth that did not
have its own version of Merlin (perhaps by the machinations of the real
Merlin himself, working behind the scenes for some unknown agenda?).
There was a panel in the story that might support that theory: Maybe that third image in the main profile--where Dolen was studying the scrolls while the face of Merlin watched him--was more than just symbolic, and that's the "real" Merlin manipulating Dolen from beyond.---Ron Fredricks
Since the King Arthur in this story appears to be older than the King Arthur of Earth-616 (he appeared to be about the same age as Dolen), this would seem to validate that this took place in another reality.
We know Merlin did have absences from Camelot in 616 (since
that's where the Mad Merlin got his start), so no reason to assume Dolan
couldn't have done so too. Or else Dolan might have started in 616 but the
Camelot he visited was another, and he replaced Merlin INSTEAD of Mad Merlin in
Agreed. I am uncertain about this one for the reasons Loki mentions, so I am not going to confirm it as an alternate reality at this point.
And the time-paradox ending of this story reminds me of the story from Fantastic Four I#5, wherein Reed, Johnny, and Ben went back in time to the 18th century, and Ben discovered that he was the legendary pirate Blackbeard. Hmm...come to think of it, they were on a quest for some gems that were enchanted by Merlin--was Merlin maybe working behind the scenes in that one, too?
I wonder if maybe Professor Dolen was the Merlin who fought S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Howling Commandos unit.
And a big THANK YOU to Dennis Giansante for originally scanning this story for me!
Profile by John Kaminski. Expansion by Ron Fredricks.
Professor Dolen/"Merlin" has no known connections to:
The aged ruler of Camelot (see
comments), he was in need of a court magician.
A cylindrical-shaped device with a transparent
bubble-top, it was an apparatus that could transport the operator
through time and space; Dolen constructed it by using information
gleaned from ancient scrolls.
The personal belongings of Professor Dolen,
including a cigarette lighter, a wristwatch, and a penlight.
images: (without ads)
Strange Worlds#4/2, p2, pan4 (Main Image - Professor Dolen, laying stunned on ground after time machine explodes)
Strange Worlds#4/2, p2, pan7 (Headshot - Professor Dolen)
Strange Worlds#4/2, p2, pan8 (Professor Dolen studies scrolls about Merlin)
Strange Worlds#4/2, p5, pan5 (Professor Dolen realizes that he is Merlin!)
Strange Worlds#4/2, p5, pan3 (Professor Dolen approaches King Arthur's throne)
Strange Worlds#4/2, p5, pan4 (King Arthur speaks to Professor Dolen)
Strange Worlds#4/2, p1, pan1 (Professor Dolen's time machine (front view) appears before startled knight and horse)
Strange Worlds#4/2, p2, pan1 (Professor Dolen exits burning time machine (side view))
Strange Worlds#4/2, p4, pan1 (Professor Dolen's hand holding cigarette lighter; 6th century townspeople)
Strange Worlds#4/2, p4, pan3 (Professor Dolen's wristwatch; 6th Century townspeople)
Strange Worlds#4/2, p4, pan5 (Professor Dolen's penlight; 6th century townspeople)
Strange Worlds#4/2 (June, 1959) - unidentified writer, Steve Ditko (pencils and inks), Stan Goldberg (colors), Artie Simek (letters), Stan Lee (editor)
First Posted: 09/06/2006
Last updated: 10/13/2022
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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