The Metal Men

Created by Bob Kahniger and Ross Andru

» FIRST APPEARANCE: Historical: Showcase #37 (1962)

History

The Current Day Metal Men

Following the Infinite Crisis, the history of the Metal Men was rewritten. Whereas the originals were created around the time of Superman's debut (10-12 years ago), the current Metal Men are only about four years old.

The first evidence that the Metal Men were "rebooted" was Will Magnus' as a human in 52 #2 (May 2006). Prior to this, Will Magnus had been transformed into one of his own creations, Veridium.

It is unclear which, if any, of the Metal Men's pre-Crisis adventures are still considered a part of continuity. Though their origin is essentially the same, it is now much more complex and Copper has been added to the line-up. 52 #22 mentions that Will once became the Plutonium Man and suffered from mental instability. These events occurred in original continuity in ...

The Wheel of the World

Tezumak, in the act of blood sacrifice. From JLA #70 (2002); art by Doug Mahnke.

The seeds of the technology that inspired the creation of the Metal Men were sown millennia ago, in the time of ancient Atlantis. In the century 1000 BCE, the great and notorious sorceress, Gamemnae drew together a League of Ancients from across the empire. One was the great warrior Tezumak, whose gods bestowed upon him great power, housed inside mystic armor.

In response to a dire prophecy by Gamemnae, Tezumak and his companion, Manitou Raven, once traveled into the 21st century to destroy the JLA. (JLA #66) After their return from the future, the JLA defeated Gamemnae and Tezumak's exact fate is a mystery.

Tezumak's powerful armored hand was preserved by Homo magi priests. Years later in the city of Mu, a magician named Simon Magnus harnessed the power of a dimension called the Darkworld and created the Wheel of the World (also known in some legends as the Philosopher's Stone). This powerful device could shape the elements and Magnus' fellow priests attempted to steal it. To prevent that, Magnus sealed the Wheel inside the hand of Tezumak.

The hand and Wheel were kept by the priests of Mu until the year 411 CE, when Zosimus, an heir of Orin, finally lost it to a being called the Nameless. The Nameless had achieved some success in manipulating the elements himself. He created the Gogoloth —metamorphing humans encased in earth—to take the hand and with blood, open it. But just as the Nameless was about to claim his prize, an unforeseen a visitor from the distant future arrived and stole away with the Wheel into the time stream. This visitor was Simon Magnus' descendent, Col. David Magnus. (#1)

Notes

The legend of the Philosopher's Stone was based on concepts birthed in many different cultures. They speculated that that the elements could be rearranged. There is an interesting connection between DC's characters and actually history... Wikipedia summarizes:

... the 13th-century scientist and philosopher Albertus Magnus is said to have discovered the philosopher's stone and passed it to his pupil Thomas Aquinas, shortly before his death circa 1280. Magnus does not confirm he discovered the stone in his writings, but he did record that he witnessed the creation of gold by "transmutation."

In the DC Universe, it is also said to be wielded by Doctor Alchemy, a foe of the Flash. Grant Morrison also introduced the Stone during his JLA arc "Rock of Ages" (in JLA #10-15, 1998). In this tale, the Stone was actually part of a much more powerful artifact called the Worlogog, which could manipulate reality itself. For a time, the Worlogog was housed inside the body of the android Hourman. No connection or distinction was ever made between Alchemy's talisman and the Worlogog.

The Responsometer

The Responsometer/Wheel of the World/Philosopher's Stone. From Metal Men v.3 #3 (2007); art by Duncan Rouleau

Four years ago William Maxwell Magnus (another descendant of Simon Magnus) began piecing together the same technology as his ancestor did with the Wheel of the World. Magnus held degrees in theoretical mathematics, particle physics and mechanical engineering. When he was an advanced student, will exhibited at the Future Young Inventors Show. Will's theory recalled the legendary ability of the Philosopher's Stone: his Hypo/Hyper Flux theory proposed a way to make one atom behave like another.

Though he hadn't yet achieved this ultimate goal, his research had enabled him to build a set of advanced robots to help in his demonstration. The robots—rather than Will's theories—were a sensation. But Will was disheartened because people had focused on his charismatic robotics, and not the potential of his theory. His mentor and professor, T.O. Morrow was there that day and introduces Magnus to R&D people from a company called Magna-Tech. Magna-Tech was willing to finance Will's work in robotics, but Will turned them down and continued to hone the Hypo-/Hyper flux theory. (Metal Men v.3 #1)

Soon, though, his work caught the attention of Solomon Khan. Khan was, in fact an agent of the Nameless and both had survived since Atlantis, seeking to reclaim the Wheel of the World. When they heard about Will's breakthroughs, they wondered if he had been the Wheel's thief. The meeting with Will told them, however, that he was simply on the path to reinventing the Wheel, so to speak. (#2)

With a check for $5 million and the help of his robots, Will quickly constructed an invention he called the Responsometer (Magnus' design had been inspired by a drawing of the Wheel in Khan's home). With it, he sent out a signal to the universe, hoping to communicate directly with the elements.

During all of this, Will had made up his mind to propose to his girlfriend, a fellow scientist, Helen Garin. But fate would not allow Magnus successes in both science and love. On the day that he intended to propose, the very gold engagement band he had bought... spoke! The breakthrough sidetracked him long enough for Helen to come under attack by a creature called Chemo. (#3)

The post-Infinite Crisis Metal Men, introducing Copper, from Metal Men v.3 #1 (2007); art by Duncan Rouleau.

When he heard of the attacks, Dr. Magnus was quick to use his newfound knowledge to construct a more advanced set of robots. Powered by electricity, these newly-minted constructs onto the scene and subdued Chemo. Afterwards, the public and the media swarmed them, calling the robots the Metal Men. Will was swept away in the commotion, and Helen left him for good.The Nameless watched this public display and concluded that Will's work had drawn too much attention. (#4)

At a press conference for the Metal Men, Will's old friend Prof. Morrow demonstrated his bitterness towards Will's success. Morrow would channel his negative energies into endeavors such as time travel and robotics (his most famous is the Red Tornado). Helen went on to work for Magna-Tech (which was also taken over by Solomon Khan). There she met Will's brother, Col. David Magnus and the two began dating. Will also constructed a Rocket Disc to transport the Metal Men around.

After the dust had settled, Magnus brought the Metal Men to Solomon Khan. He rightly assumed that Khan would be thrilled by results obtained with Khan's support. Khan however, was more critical. The Metal Men were, in essence, examples of the opposite of Khan's goals. Instead of changing one element into another, the responsometers were causing metals to gradually become more like their base natures, and less able to flux—order, not chaos. Khan ordered Magnus to destroy the Metal Men, with the exception of Tin. Because Tin has 13 isotopes, the Responsometer had not completely solidified its communications with the element. (#5)

The Nameless unleashed his Gogoloth on the Metal Men, and Gold was knocked apart from his Responsometer. The Metal Men escaped after defeating the Gogoloth and freeing Khan from the Nameless' control, but Gold could not be recovered. Or was he? To add to the confusion, visitors from the future arrived. David and Will Magnus swooped in and reclaimed Gold's Responsometer and head.

In the future, David had glimpsed an apocalypse wrought by the Metal Men's existence; his mission was to impede their creation. David destroyed Gold's responsometer and then the brothers were attacked by Nameless. David was still in possession of the original Wheel of the World. When their time platform was destroyed, Will chose to save Gold's head (and the Wheel with it) instead of his brother. You see, because Gold was built using Helen's engagement ring—and was the first of the Metal Men—Will always held a special fondness for this creation. He couldn't bear to lose the ring again. David fell back to Earth in his home time, in the future, and found himself the victim of a strange fate... (#6)

In Between

Doc Magnus struggles to recover from his post-kidnapping psychosis, during which time he creates the Plutonium Man (right). From Metal Men v.1 #45 (1976); art by Walt Simonson

After Khan was destroyed, Will's money was gone and it was some time before he could reconstruct Gold. Instead he fashioned a new Metal Man, Copper. (#8) Some time after this, the Will Magnus of the future returned Gold's ring and responsometer, and the Metal Men were complete once again.

After one of their mission, Will fell into a coma. (Metal Men v.1 #33) He was kidnapped from his hospital bed and brainwashed. (#40) the Metal Men rescued him relatively quickly, but before his sanity was completely recovered, his doctors allowed him to build the Plutonium Man. (#45) This creation became a menace and the Metal Men sacrificed themselves in order to destroy the Plutonium Man. (#47) Following this, Magnus was encouraged to take medication for his mental health.

Notes

Grant Morrison stated that he was influenced by the original Metal Men #45, and alluded to Magnus' insanity when recreating the new Metal Men's history.

52

Following the second great Crisis, Magnus attempted to reconnect with his old mentor, T.O. Morrow, who was a prisoner of Haven Penitentiary. Both had heard the news that various "mad scientists" had begun disappearing. (52 #2) Soon Morrow and Magnus were abducted as well. (#14, 22) They found themselves on Oolong Island in the Pacific Ocean. There Intergang's leader Chang Tzu had created a Science Squad from all the missing scientists. (#23) On Oolong, Will was forced to go off his medication and began a period of prolific creation. He also retained just enough sanity to rebuilt a Responsometer. (#39) In time he managed to create Iron, Tin, Gold and Mercury, who destroyed Chang Tzu. (#49)

Before this, David Magnus had set out for Oolong to rescue Will. But David arrived after the island had supposedly been cleaned up by Earth's heroes. He arrived to find abandoned robots plotting their own destinies. David used their "Ever-Ware"—a leftover creation of Will's—to access the time stream. (Metal Men v.3 #4) He witnessed a horrible future wrought by the Metal Mens' very presence, and began a plan to prevent it by traveling back to ancient Atlantis.

Recently

When T.O. Morrow alters the Metal Men, the result is— the Death Metal Men! From Metal Men v.3 #3 (2007); art by Duncan Rouleau.

The Metal Men's greatest challenge to date involved a grand tug-of-war, with various factions seeking to use or destroy them for their own ends. In one corner, the Nameless still sought to retrieve his long-lost Wheel. Over time he had assumed ownership of Magna-Tech and staffed it completely with artificial intelligence. In another corner was T.O. Morrow, whose jealousy of Will's breakthrough led him to plot the Metal Mens' capture. And in yet another, Will's brother David set about preventing the Metal Mens' creating because he glimpsed a future where they had brought Earth to ruin.

The Metal Men found an unlikely ally in the form of U.N.I.O.N. When the team first met this artificial intelligence, it was attempting to overthrow humankind. This battle knocked the Metal Men apart and a U.S. military organization called the M80s stepped in to claim the robots for "cataloguing and licensing." (#1) When Will was unable to recover his responsometers from the government, he set out to take them back. U.N.I.O.N. stepped in to help, and brought reinforcements—the Robot Renegades: the Manhunter Lud, Warbox, L-Ron and Body-X . They discovered that instead of the military, T.O. Morrow had stolen the Metal Men and turned them into the Death Metal Men! Iron, Platinum, Gold and Mercury had each been turned into Uranium, Thorium, Strontium and Radium, respectively. (#2)

The Robot Renegades, led by the duplicitous Manhunter Lud. From Metal Men v.3 #2 (2008).

Morrow had used the Kamarak—a particle accelerator from their days on Oolong Island—to accelerate atoms and produce new elements. Will used another device called the Particularium to cast out the free radicals and restore his creations. When this facility collapsed, the Metal Men were freed, and Will disappeared, plucked from the time stream by his brother, David. (#3)

Will found himself in the "inside-out," as David described it. David showed Will various points in history, including the apocalyptic future and ancient Atlantis. (#4-5)

Without Will to guide them, the Metal Men fell victim to Magna-Tech, which was now completely controlled by the Nameless himself. His minion the Mech-Cannibal took the Metal Men by force but Gold and Lead escaped. (#5-6)

Meanwhile Will had returned from he and David's trip into the past and saw the Metal Mens' predicament. (#7) Magnus went back into time and brought his own Metal Men back from the past to free the present day team.

David Magnus becomes Viridium, the fusion of the ancient Wheel of the World and gold wreckage. From Metal Men v.3 #8 (2008).

Lud was destroyed in this battle. Will ended things by attaching his time-travel device to the Nameless just as its power source waned. This left the Nameless stranded ... nowhen.

Afterwards Will recommitted himself to his profession, to building, and to being on the frontier of science—for humanity's sake. (#8)

Elsewhere, back on Oolong Island, David Magnus returned from the "inside-out." In the process, the remains of Gold's form had bonded to him, fused together by the Wheel of the World as they reentered the time stream. The Wheel whispered to him a new name: Viridium. David was bent on revenge...

Notes

Oolong Island was the pre-Crisis home to Egg Fu, foe of Wonder Woman—1st app. Wonder Woman #157 (1965). In current continuity, Chang Tzu was called "Egg Fu" behind his back.

A man named Norton watched Chemo on TV. It is unclear what role Norton was supposed to have related to Chemo. This was Ramsey Norton, who created Chemo in Showcase #39 (July-August 1962).

L-Ron suggested that Warbox was made by a Japanese pop star.

The Original, Pre-Crisis Metal Men

            
Doc Magnus • Gold • Platinum • Mercury •  Iron • Tin •  Lead

These lovable robots actually house the complete mental blueprint of their former human selves. The robots began as an experiment by brothers Will and Mike Magnus. Efforts to mentally manipulate the robots failed repeatedly, until Mike decided to try using his wife, Sharon's, invention: the responsometer. To do this, he subjected himself to "deprivation rays." The rays suppressed human emotion and allow for the transfer of the mind to the responsometer. Though successful, Mike was wracked with pain. When he lashed out, the rays enveloped everyone present, except for Will, who escaped. Others present included fellow scientists Wilde and Pressman; pizza delivery man, Jack; and the janitor, Tinkham.

Doc Magnus' fellow scientists become the seed programming for the Metal Men. From Metal Men v.2 #2 (1993); art by Dan Jurgens.

Will found that he could not return his friends' minds to their bodies, which lay comatose. Instead, he awakened them in the robot bodies, in which they lived with no knowledge of their former selves. They went to work, oblivious, for the U.S. government as the Metal Men. When destroyed, Will would initiate a transfer to new responsometers, a process which was traumatic to their still-comatose bodies. As a way of dealing with his grief and guilt, Will grew more cold and detached from his friends, emotionally. (Metal Men v.2 #2)

By no means did Will Magus stop at the original six. He continued to experiment with other metals (though, in light of the originals' origin, it is unclear how these other robots achieved sentience). They included Barium, Aluminum, Calcium, Zirconium, Sodium and Plutonium (Metal Men v.1 #3); Potassium and Technetium (Metal Men v.1 #8); and Silver, Cobalt, Osmium, Gallium, Iridia. Tantalum, Osmium and Aluminum (Metal Men #31, Silver Age Secret Files #1, Doom Patrol v.2 #60 [Aluminum only]). Osmium returned with Chromium and Tungsten (Metal Men v.1 #47).

Will Magnus becomes Veridium. From Metal Men v.2 #4 (1992).

Tragically, their human bodies died in an attack on Magnus Robotics. The attack was precipitated when an alien ore (named veridium) fell to Earth and was recovered by the Metal Men. Their old enemies, the Missile Men, allied with a man named Tonegawa, who broke in and stole the meteor (Metal Men v.2 #1). With their bodies truly dead, the responsometers were their only link to life. In the following battle, Gold lost that life when the Missile Man, Z-1 crushed his responsometer. In desperation, his brother Will subjected himself to deprivation rays and transferred his mind to the veridium body fashioned by the Missile Men. (#4) Following his transformation, Magnus denounced the use of his given name, choosing to be called only Veridium. The metal's properties, he found, can store and channel heat and energy. Tonegawa is again at large; he sent Shrapnel after the Metal Men but the heroes were triumphant. (Showcase '95 #2)

Lead spent some time hanging out with the gang at Guy Gardner's Warrior's bar. (#??) Tin was recently part of the automated amalgam called Enginehead, but this series is probably now out-of-continuity since it involves Robotman, who has been rebooted with the new Doom Patrol.

During the great Crisis wrought by Alexander Luthor, Superboy Prime caused changes to the time stream. Each powerful blow Superboy delivered caused the time stream. to settle into its "proper place," or "correct" itself (apparently, there were still kinks which had not worked out since the aftermath of the Anti-Monitor's first Crisis). (Infinite Crisis Secret Files) One of these blows restored Will Magnus to human form. Magnus was approached by Booster Gold for help in restoring his robot friend, Skeets. During this visit, he claimed that the Metal Men "don't work anymore." (52 #2)

Will Magnus has held a long-standing friendship with cybernetics genius Professor T.O. Morrow. Magnus concedes that Morrow is a pioneer despite his evil ways and frequently visits him in prison. Recently, Morrow became increasingly paranoid that he was being targeted for kidnapping. (#6)

Each robot displayed the properties of the metal from which it's made. Each individual also assumed the general body shape of their original human body.

Member (name)

1st app.

Status & info

Gold (Mike Magnus) Metal Men, vol. 1 #1 Deceased Metal Men v.2 #4
Iron (Randy Pressman) Metal Men, vol. 1 #1
Active in adventuring
Lead (Jack; last name unrevealed)
Mercury (Redmond Wilde)
Platinum (Sharon Magnus, "Tina")
Tin (Thomas Tinkham)
Veridium (Dr. William Magnus) Metal Men, vol. 1 #1 (as Veridium, Metal Men, v.2 #4)
Nameless Metal Men #13 Deceased Brave & Bold #187 (June 1982)

Metal Men (Alternate Members)

Written by Ola Hellstone

  • Uranium was Doc Magnus' first robot and Agantha was his silver "girlfriend." They fought the Metal Men and the Atom and were destroyed. (Brave & the Bold #55)

  • The evil team. When Platinum created a Doc Magnus robot to love, the robot turned out to be evil and created new Metal Men who defeated the old ones. However, Platinum saved the day and the evil robots were destroyed. They were Doc Magnus robot, Aluminum, Barium, Calcium, Plutonium, Sodium and Zirconium. (Metal Men #3) Some of these later appeared as a school example in Silver Age Secret Files #1

  • Nameless was created by Tin as a companion (he always called her "Beautiful" or "Precious"). Nameless went missing for years until she and Tin were reunited and even got married, shortly before she sacrificed her "life" in battle with a Missile Man. (B&B #187) Appearances: Metal Men #13-32 • Brave & the Bold #74, 103, 187

  • The substitute team. Doc Magnus once created a back-up team for the original Metal Men—Silver, Cobalt, Zinc, Osmium, Gallium and Iridia. These were just as good as the originals but even had some further abilities to outshine them. The originals didn't like them at all. When the newbies were possessed by an alien named Darzz the Dictator, the originals were able to defeat/destroy them in combat. (Metal Men #31)

  • The counterpart team were created by Magnus as companions to the originals—Mercury Girl, Lead Girl, Gold Girl, Iron Girl, Platinum Man. However, they never got along. All the females were destroyed when they fell into a crack in the Earth. (Metal Men #32) The male platinum robot later returned as a villain. (Brave & the Bold #187)

  • The Plutonium Man was a creation of Doc Magnus during the time that he suffered from a nervous breakdown. Loaded with Doc's destructive feelings and personality, the Plutonium Man went berserk before being destroyed. Once he had an element-shifting drone to help him commit his evil deeds: Plutonium Man. (Appearances: Metal Men #45-47 (destroyed). His Drone (a.k.a. Chromium, Osmium II, and Tungsten I, appeared once and was destroyed in Metal Men #47)

  • The Inheritor (a.k.a. Syntho-Rob One) was built by Doc Magnus when the Metal Men had deserted him. (Metal Men #55) Inheritor was stronger than all the other Metal Men combined, but had a faulty responsometer that made him commit evil deeds. He was destroyed by Mercury who short-circuited his electric wires with his own liquid body. (#56)

  • Tungsten II was a robot servant invented by Doc Magnus that had no free will as the Metal Men had. He was destroyed by the Candlemaker during the latter's battle with the Doom Patrol. (Doom Patrol v.2 #60)

  • Tantalum was a robot that was only used as a school example. (Silver Age Secret Files #1)

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:

  • 52 #??
  • Action #590, 599
  • Enginehead #1-4
  • Showcase '95 #2
  • Superman/Batman #??
  • Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day #1

» SERIES:

  • Metal Men v.1, 56 issues (1963-69, 1973-78)
  • Metal Men v.2, 4-issue mini-series (1993)
  • Metal Men v.3, 8-issue mini-series (2007)