Doc Magnus is the creator of the Metal Men, and one of the world's foremost authorities on robotic engineering. Throughout his career, he has also been an associate of the Doom Patrol, a member of the Science Squad, and an advisor on the White House presidential cabinet.
William Magnus was a student of noted futurist T.O. Morrow, studying Elementics, the field of science that combined chemistry and robotic science, in the hope of creating artificial life. His ideas on the subject were dismissed by most of his colleagues, apart from Morrow, his mentor.
His breakthrough was the creation of the Responsometer, a microcomputer capable of animating constructs, bringing them to life, transforming them into sentient, free-thinking humanoids. He built six creations, each made from a different metal, and implanted a Responsometer in each one.
These creations were the first Metal Men - Gold, Platinum, Lead, Iron, Tin and Mercury. Each of them manifested personality traits associated with their respective metal - Gold was noble and heroic, Mercury was irreverent and volatile, Tin felt disposable, and so on.
Together, Magnus and the Metal Men embarked on a variety of adventures, their specialty fighting monsters spawned from weird science. Though the Metal Men were repeatedly destroyed, Magnus was always able to rebuild them.
This period came to an end when Magnus was captured by Karnak, dictator of the country of Karnia, and brainwashed, his talents bent to Karnak's service. Eventually, Karnak was overthrown, and Magnus was forcibly returned to the United States, where he was placed in a government-operated mental institution, while a method of breaking his conditioning was sought.
A spy for the government of Karnia, in the guise of an American bureaucrat, arranged for Magnus to work on a project for the U.S. government, in the hope of creating something that could be used to blackmail the United States into providing repatriation for Karnia.
The result of Magnus's project, however, was the Plutonium Man, a rampaging death machine that embodied his own rage and depression. The Metal Men managed to stop the Plutonium Man at the cost of their own lives, and the sight of their self-sacrifice snapped Magnus back to sanity. Restored to his rightful mind, he was able to bring the Metal Men back to life.
However, the creation of the Plutonium Man eventually triggered an even greater psychological breakdown in Magnus. At one stage during this, he came to believe that he had become a robot and the Metal Men had once been human.
He finally managed to recover from the breakdown with psychiatric help, taking medication to control his bipolar disorder. At some point during his recovery, however, he discovered he was no longer able to get the Responsometers working, leaving the Metal Men effectively defunct.
After Magnus had left T. O. Morrow's tutelage, Morrow had become a supervillain. Following a recent exploit, Morrow was imprisoned in Haven, where Magnus would pay monthly visits to his old mentor.
Meanwhile, government agents approached Magnus, looking to buy the Metal Men and use them as prototypes for a new generation of weapons. Magnus refused.
T. O. Morrow had noticed that a number of mad scientists had disappeared under mysterious circumstances, suspecting they were being "collected" for some reason. Before Morrow himself vanished under similar circumstances, he left a piece of machine code for Magnus, code which Magnus found could get the Responsometers working again.
What the government could not buy, they decided to take by force. They sent their own copies of the Metal Men after Magnus, copies without the Responsometer technology. Magnus managed to escape them, but was promptly captured by a giant robot.
And they wanted Magnus to build them a new Plutonium Man.
Magnus attempted to stall for time, but Chang Tzu, the island's overseer, discovered that the medication Magnus was using to suppress his bipolar disorder was also suppressing his creative streak, and took it away, looking to unleash his madness.
However, while Magnus had lost his meds, he had not lost his conscience. In public, he worked on Intergang's new Plutonium Man, while collecting small amounts of other metals in private.
When the Justice Society of America arrived on Oolong Island to free the imprisoned Black Adam, Magnus made his move, revealing that he had used Responsometers on the metals he had been able to scrounge to create a group of miniature Metal Men. While the Metal Men held off Chang Tzu, Magnus lowered the island's defenses, allowing the Justice Society to enter. When T. O. Morrow confronted him, Magnus gave his old mentor a way out, letting him escape.
Facing off against Chang Tzu once again, Magnus destroyed the megalomaniacal mutant, before surrendering himself to the JSA.
Following his return to the United States, Magnus went back to work on the Metal Men, now armed with the knowledge of how to get the Responsometers working again. He recreated his original team, giving them an upgrade, and added a new member, the female Copper.
- Genius Level Intellect
- Robotic Engineering: Magnus is the world's foremost authority on Elementics, and is considered to be the primary expert on artificial intelligence in androids. He holds multiple PhDs.
- Bipolar Disorder: Magnus suffers from bipolar disorder, which can be treated with medication. If off his medication, it can impair his judgment, and, in his own words, does "crazy things when I'm off my meds."
- Magnus suffers from bipolar disorder. In recent years he started taking medication for his condition, but they were taken away on Oolong Island. At present, it is unclear whether Magnus is taking the medication again.
- Magnus has suffered two mental breakdowns to date. His first resulted in the creation of the Plutonium Man. His second triggered a delusion where Magnus believed he had become a robot, and the Metal Men had once been human.
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and should be considered apocryphal.
- While Magnus does not smoke, he often has a pipe close to hand to give him something to chew on.
- 176 Appearances of William Magnus (New Earth)
- 25 Images featuring William Magnus (New Earth)
- 3 Quotations by or about William Magnus (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: William Magnus (New Earth)
- Doc Magnus at dccomics.com
- Will Magnus at Wikipedia.org
- The Origin of the Metal Men at DC Comics' "Heroes and Villains" page.
Doom Patrol member