Will Magnus: 1995 - Present
Will is the youngest of three children born to James and Darla Magnus. Born in Fallville, Iowa, Will would grow up mostly in Coast City after his father relocated his family to be closer to his new assignment at Edwards Air Force Base as a senior officer overseeing the experimental weaponry division there. Where Will's older brothers David and Michael seemed to inherit their father's military discipline, only Will seemed to have gotten his father's intellect, even clearly surpassing it at a young age. Growing up, Will was particularly interested in robots and used to read the writings of Dr. Morrow, but was later devastated when Morrow was revealed to be a psychopath.
Will's life changed for the worse after the Battle of Alcatraz. That night claimed the life of James Magnus, but the Magnus family did not know the details surrounding Magnus' death until the Titans and Justice League attended the dedication of a memorial to the lives lost on that horrific night, Will's father included. After the ceremony's conclusion, thirteen-year-old Will and his mother were met by Blue Beetle who told a story explaining the circumstances. James Magnus died sacrificing his life to take a blast of Yellow Lantern energy intended for Blue Beetle who had not seen the Yellow Lantern behind him as he was too preoccupied trying to free a civilian trapped under rubble. Through conversation, Blue Beetle noticed that Will was incredibly intelligent. Blue Beetle told the widow Magnus he would put a good word in for her son with Ted Kord.
After Will spent a summer as an intern at Kord-Tech, Will was invited to attend the Ivy University magnate program. Will was eager to attend as he felt truly out of place at home with his father gone. Will's older brothers had both joined the military leaving Will at home with his mother and her parade of boyfriends, many of which had been friends of Will's father. Once at Ivy U, Will felt at home and began making a new family of sorts with minds more suited to Will's own, none more so than Tilly Lace, who Will shared a profound connection. Working together, Will and Tilly both found their already exceptional work elevated to new levels of brilliance and innovation.
The crowning achievement of "TillyWilly" was the responsometer, which allowed the pair to install human-like artificial intelligence into machines. After neuro-mapping one hundred volunteers and programming those results on their first twenty-five responsometers with little success, Will and Tilly's twenty-sixth responsometer produced their first operational prototype (the machine which would later be named 'Iron') and the pair were quickly hired by STAR Labs where they opened the 'Military Enhancement Through Artificial Lifeforms' project. However, after making over twenty more responsometers with designs intended to be used for military application, Will heard that his brother Michael was killed in action in Khandaq. Furious, Will refused to design anymore robots with military designs and changed the program to 'Municipal Enhancement Through Artificial Lifeforms'. The first successful design after this shift in the program's paradigm produced the unit which would later be known as 'Tin'.
Today, Will does not spend much time producing new designs, instead giving most of his focus to perfecting the seven prototypes he is most pleased with. Collectively, these seven robots are designed to be the ultimate answer to the needs of law enforcement, first responders, and crisis intervention. Though Tilly and Will's oldest brother David continue to try to convince Will to open the project to the possibility of exploring more military applications, which would substantially improve their funding, Will refuses.
- Genius Level Intellect: Will is considered to be in the top 0.01% of the world's geniuses and is considered by many to be the world's foremost roboticist and a leading expert in a number of other fields including metallurgy, chemistry, and artificial intelligence.
- Robotic Engineering: Magnus is the world's foremost authority on robotics, having surpassed the accomplishments of his former idol, Dr. Morrow.
- Chemistry: Magnus is an expert chemist.
- Metallurgy: Will is an expert metallurgist, having created a new alloy known as "veridium" mostly now used in high-tech components.
- Marksmanship: Will's older brothers taught him how to shoot guns with considerable proficiency. Will keeps this proficiency up through test-firing the few weapons he installs in his mechanical creations. Though Will abhors the use of violence in most circumstances, he does acknowledge that circumstances of reality do not always allow a person to safely abstain from violence and he owns a .40 handgun which he keeps at home for the purpose of self-defense. Still, Will hopes he never has to take a human life. He once used an alien sonic cannon to put down one of their early responsometer equipped prototypes when it became hostile and lunged for Tilly. The attack destroyed the unit's responsometer and Will felt awful for having taken the life of what he considered to be a truly living thing. Will keeps the destroyed responsometer on his desk.
- Responsometer: Will is the co-inventor of the device known as the responsometer, a modular artificial intelligence that contains sophisticated programming and a digital neurological map which contains an actually unique personality, emotional core, and identity, effectively giving any machine connected to such a device a digital soul.
- Mental Illness: Will suffers from bipolar disorder. He does particularly well under medication but he tends to remove himself from his medication when he feels he has become 'stagnant' in his work, believing he does his best work when in one of his manic states. Will also is prone to mental breakdowns, particularly when he has lapsed from his medication for several months.
Trivia and Notes
- Will is an atheist.
- Though he doesn't smoke, Will often has his father's smoking pipe on him and can often be seen chewing on it when he is trying to relax his mind.
- Will built the master control to resemble a classic arcade joystick. The master control has a biometric lock requiring Will or Tilly Lace's hand to operate. Will took the precaution against his Metal Men falling into the wrong hands quite literally.
- As an inside joke and due to Tilly's insistence that a prototype robot be built with possible military applications, Will designed the chassis of Unit 29, Codename: Copper, to greatly resemble a mechanical version of Tilly. The fact that Tilly doesn't see the resemblance and is insistent that she looks "nothing like Copper" just makes the joke all that sweeter for Will.
- Will and Tilly actually have shelved responsometers with truly exceptional scores. They found these to be "inhumanly perfect" in their lab testing. They also shelve anything with horrible scores or severe red flags. They like their bots to have some flaws. Flaws make them relatable and give them personality that makes them less like machines and more like "Metal Men".
- The mapped out personalities contained in the one hundred initial responsometers were actually people Will and Tilly knew personally, such as family members, friends, classmates, teachers, and neighbors. Will and Tilly also did such scans on each other. With their first 100 volunteers, Will and Tilly did a blind test run. Due to privacy concerns and to focus on the scientific aspects, Magnus and Lace shuffled the results and assigning them random numbers. Thus exactly which volunteer's personality was mapped to which responsometer is purely speculative. That said:
- Will is pretty confident that Gold's responsometer is his older brother, Michael, who died in a military operation in Khandaq shortly after the neuro-mapping. Will also believes that Copper was Tilly's own neuro-map, hence the reason he chose that responsometer to use for the gynoid body he built to resemble Tilly herself.
- Will also sees some traits of his oldest brother David in Gold.
- Will believes he destroyed his own responsometer because it was glitchy. This responsometer's number is 10.
- Tilly says that Platinum has the neuro-map of Will's mother, but Will thinks she only says that to freak him out due to Platinum's obvious affection for Will. Will thinks Tilly only says that to disturb him more and little does he know he is correct, as Tilly actually is concerned that Platinum is her own neuro-map.
- It is possible that Tin may have the responsometer based on Will's own neuro-map as they do share a number of similar qualities, which is particularly noticeable when Will is off his meds.
- The dogtags Will wears read 'James Magnus'. Will also often wears the military jacket belonging to his brother Michael.
- He has a Caper account.
- His portrait is based on his New 52 appearance.
- His Network ID is a nod to his first appearance in the comics: Showcase #37 and Mr. Robot TV series.
- Milton Quigley is a combination of his two aliases from the comics: William Quigley Magnus and Milton Magnus.
- Veridium is a nod to a comic where he believed he was a robot.
- His address is a nod to Robert Kanigher who is one of his creators.
- Chewing on a pipe is a nod to his classic look.