Project Cadmus

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"DNA Project" redirects here. For the South African non-profit organisation, see National Forensic DNA Database of South Africa.
Project Cadmus
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #133 (October 1970)
Created by Jack Kirby
In-story information
Type of organization Genetic research
Base(s) Metropolis

Project Cadmus is a fictional genetic engineering project in the DC Comics Universe. It was created by Jack Kirby as the DNA Project in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #133 (October 1970), and was run by the former Newsboy Legion. Its notable creations included the Golden Guardian (a clone of the original Guardian), Auron and Dubbilex, a DNAlien telepath who resembles a tall grey alien with horns. Its 31st Century descendants run the Justice League 3000 clone project.

Fictional history[edit]

The project was founded by Dabney Donovan, Reginald Augustine and Thomas Thompkins. The Cadmus facilities were originally constructed in a large, abandoned aqueduct outside of Metropolis. Exploration soon uncovered a vast array of caverns close to the facilities. These would become important later.

Dabney Donovan was ultimately fired from the Project because he felt there should never be limits in understanding the potential of the genetic code. Donovan had largely been accredited for the non-human creations of the Project, referred to as "DNAliens" (human beings cloned then genetically altered to discover superhuman potential while also giving them a more "alien" appearance), various normal clones, monsters based on Donovan's favorite horror films (who lived on a small artificial planet on Earth called Transilvane). One of the DNAliens, named Dubbilex, became a prominent staff member.[1]

There are also "step-ups" who call themselves "the Hairies," super hippies who have developed an evolved knowledge-base, and developed transport and defense technology beyond the understanding of modern day humans. The Hairies live outside the direct control of Cadmus, living inside a mobile "Mountain of Judgement," that constantly keeps them hidden from the affairs of both Cadmus and society in general. Prior to moving to the mountain, the Hairies lived in a forest of living tree-houses called the Habitat, which is right outside some of Cadmus' main facilities.

The Project has an "opposite number" in the form of the Evil Factory, a monster-creating project set up by Darkseid as part of Intergang and run by two of his servants called Simyan and Mokkari. They were originally created at Project Cadmus, but due to the cruelty of the experimentation they experienced at the hands of Dr. Dabney Donovan, they develop a great deal of hatred towards all humanity. They form a scientific enclave called "Brigadoom" as a means of pleasing Darkseid by creating an army of monstrous genetic constructs. They are constantly creating entities to assist Darkseid in mastering the Anti-Life Equation, clues of which exist on Earth. This would allow Darkseid and his lackeys like Simyan and Mokkari to rule over their surroundings.

Following the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the Project was reintroduced as Project Cadmus, named after the Greek legend of Cadmus, who created warriors from the teeth of a dragon.

Before creating the DNA Project, Kirby had written a cloning story called "The Cadmus Seed" in Alarming Tales.

The Post-Crisis version made its first appearance in Superman Annual #2 (1988). It was responsible for the creation of the new Superboy, cloned from genetic material obtained from both Superman and Lex Luthor (originally, the human DNA was identified as that of Project director Paul Westfield). Superboy is subsequently freed by the clones of the Newsboy Legion, who now, as adults, are all working for Cadmus. A clone of Guardian, another long-time hero, works at the facility. As before, another prominent staff member is Dubbilex, a "DNAlien" with telepathic powers.[2]

Cadmus is run for a time by Director Westfield. After Superman's death at the hands of Doomsday, Westfield had Superman's body stolen [3] and worked upon by the scientists of Cadmus in The Legacy of Superman #1 (1993). After the nearest approximation of his DNA is created, Westfield has a Guardian clone named Auron assault the Newsboy Legion clones and their adult "fathers" in an effort to acquire it. Auron almost kills the clones, causing them to crash land in the Habitat, before his Guardian memories come to the forefront. He takes the only copy of the DNA into space. The adult Legion then openly defy Westfield and ponder quitting Cadmus.

Dabney Donovan, still insane, returns multiple times to plague Cadmus, such as capturing the adult Legion and subjecting them to various torments.[4] He would also ally himself with forces from Apokolips.

Cadmus goes to war with the forces of Lex Luthor in a Superman story called "The Fall of Metropolis." This story features a "clone plague" with many clones becoming sick and even dying. Westfield is killed by Donovan. Soon, Cadmus is seemingly destroyed entirely.[5] However, the Project had simply taken advantage of this to go underground.

New management[edit]

In Superboy #57, the Project was put under new management, following the Newsboys' retirement. The new project head is Mickey "the Mechanic" Cannon, a former Suicide Slum resident with a reputation for being able to "fix" anything, a car or a country. The new head of genetics is Dr. Serling Roquette, a teenaged genius with a crush on the Guardian and Superboy. Dabney Donovan is also brought back, under armed guard. Cannon made Cadmus more open to the public.[6]

Shortly after this the Project temporarily came under the control of the Evil Factory, now revealed to be part of an organisation called The Agenda. This is run by Lex Luthor's ex-wife, the Contessa. The Agenda concerns itself with cloning for its own purposes. One of its operatives, Amanda Spence murders Superboy's girlfriend, Tana Moon. The Agenda suffers setbacks at the hands of multitudes of superheros, including mutinous superpowered beings from within their own ranks.[7] Other characters form another resistance cell and ultimately defeat the 'Evil Factory'.[8]

Endings[edit]

When Luthor becomes President of the United States, Cannon and the Guardian became uncomfortable with the amount of government pressure on the Project. Following the Imperiex War, the entire project vanishes. The abandoned facilities, three miles below Metropolis, are later seen. Lex Luthor (no longer president) and several of his associates have appropriated the buildings for their own uses.[9]

During the Seven Soldiers maxi-series, it is mentioned that Cadmus had shut down and sold off the rights to the Guardian name and likeness to a New York-based newspaper called The Manhattan Guardian. The newspaper ended up using the name and costume to create its own superhero. However, during 52, it is shown that Project Cadmus is still in existence.

Countdown[edit]

It wasn't until Countdown Week 33 that the Project actually resurfaces, and it is still led by Mickey Cannon. He chases down Jimmy Olsen, eventually offering the boy a chance to work with Cadmus to help Olsen discover the mysteries of his new superpowers. Upon arrival at the Project, Olsen is greeted by Dubbilex and Serling Roquette. Roquette takes Jimmy aside to help him learn about his powers. However when his powers start going out of control, he flees the Project rather than risk hurting someone.[10]

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen[edit]

In the Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen one-shot (Dec 2008), Jimmy discovers Cadmus was involved in the creation of Codename: Assassin, and returns to the Project. He discovers the facility abandoned, except for Dubbilex. Dubbilex explains that all the Project's assets have been reassigned by the Government to a new military project with an alien-killing agenda. He tells Jimmy the origin of Codename: Assassin, and asks him to find the Guardian. He then dies of his injuries.[11] In Teen Titans (vol. 3) #83, two married scientists named Vincent and Rochelle Barnes are introduced as Cadmus liaisons to the Titans, and are assigned to help the team track down Raven after she is kidnapped by a demon named Wyld. During the course of the ensuing storyline, Vincent is killed by a possessed Miss Martian. In Teen Titans (vol. 3) #87, Cyborg and Rochelle take Miss Martian and Static to Cadmus Labs after the former is rendered comatose and the latter loses his powers following a battle with Wyld.

Justice League 3000[edit]

In Justice League 3000 a 31st Century Project Cadmus has survived for over a millennium featuring clones the original Justice League members Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Flash and Green Lantern.

Members[edit]

  • Dubbilex -
  • Mickey Cannon - Security Director.
  • Serling Roquette - Geneticist.

Former members[edit]

Alternate versions[edit]

JLA: The Nail[edit]

In the Elseworlds story JLA: The Nail, Cadmus Labs appears as an "Alien Research" testing-ground that holds many metahumans both good and evil. Known captives are Eclipso, Silver Banshee, Firestorm, Hawk and Dove, The Creeper, Chemo, Black Orchid, Congo Bill, Man Bat, Animal Man, Dolphin, Star Sapphire, and the Freedom Beast.[12]

Batman Beyond[edit]

In the Batman Beyond universe, CADMUS is still active and run by Amanda Waller, Dr. Thawne and others.[13]

Earth-51[edit]

This alternate dimension features a Project Cadmus that becomes the focal point of the characters Buddy Blank, Kamandi, and Brother Eye.[14]

All-Star Superman[edit]

In the non-continuity book All-Star Superman, Grant Morrison's modern take on the Silver Age includes the D.N.A. P.R.O.J.E.C.T. which was resurrected by a scientist named Leo Quintum. A comment indicates this organization formed off of the military's 'Cadmus' group. Under Quintum, the P.R.O.J.E.C.T. is dedicated to "the engineering of new human forms" including Bizarro worker drones, giants (Voyager Titans) who can travel through space under their own power, and microscopic "nanonauts" unlocking the mysteries of the sub-atomic world. The P.R.O.J.E.C.T.'s ultimate goal is to create a replacement Superman, in case something happens to the original.

It is revealed that the P.R.O.J.E.C.T. created a formula to bestow Superman-level strength and durability on a normal person, but all of their test subjects ultimately burned out. Marked with "Do Not Open Until Doomsday", Jimmy Olsen injects himself the formula and transforms into a hulking, gray skinned figure with bony protrusions. Jimmy succeeds in stopping a black-kryptonite-affected Superman. Both come through their ordeal, shaken but healthy.[15]

Later, Dr. Quintum's assistant asks him what people will do if Superman never returns from the sun. The last page of the story is a splash-panel of Dr. Quintum replying "I'm sure we'll think of something" and looking at a large, sealed door labeled P.R.O.J.E.C.T. and with a Superman S-shield modified to resemble the number 2.[16]

Cadmus One Million[edit]

The name "Project Cadmus" has survived to the 853rd century. They have a position of authority over this era's Superboy, who is the one millionth clone of the original. He takes two assignments for them; hunting down the JLA Bizzaro Clone Terrorist and searching for the traces of 20th Century DNA Cadmus had detected. Though Cadmus believed the DNA was in the arctic region on Earth, it was found floating in the Solar System's asteroid belt. It was a humanoid being in a stasis chamber. It is later implied the humanoid is Lobo.[17]

Other media[edit]

Television[edit]

  • Project Cadmus (also called Cadmus Project or simply Cadmus) was featured as an adversary of the Justice League in the first season (third overall) of animated series Justice League Unlimited. It is described by Emil Hamilton as "Power brokers, politicians, criminals, and black-ops mercenaries with one thing in common: they're humanity's last hope against (metahumans)". This version is a combination of the comics version of Cadmus, the Suicide Squad (which appeared in the series as Task Force X, its real name in the comics), and Checkmate. In the series, Cadmus is a government project designed to take precautions against the League going rogue. The project was started when Superman was brainwashed by Darkseid into invading Earth at the end of Superman: The Animated Series where the project (called "Project: Achilles") was designed to deal with the Man of Steel if he were to attack the Earth again. It was created by Lex Luthor, and a mutual ally bigoted General Nathaniel Hardcastle who was later killed by Galatea on orders of Cadmus. The project's goals extended to the Justice League as well after the Justice Lords incident. Members of this version of Cadmus include Amanda Waller, Professor Hamilton, Tala, General Wade Eiling, Professor Milo, Maxwell Lord, Hugo Strange, and Doctor Moon. For a short while, they also had turned Captain Atom to their cause. In addition, they also had Task Force X, which is the official name for the organization known in DC Comics as the Suicide Squad, for use in risky field missions. Cadmus was later shown to be backed by Lex Luthor, who only financed the project in a grab for superpowers of his own; a new AMAZO robot with Luthor's conscious mind implanted in it. After taking what he needed to build it from Cadmus and learning the League had figured out his link to the organization, Luthor attempted to destroy the organization by hacking into an immense laser built into the League's Watchtower. Although the building was destroyed, Waller "had the facility scrubbed as per standard protocol" after Superman and Huntress broke into to rescue The Question from Moon's captivity. It was then revealed that Brainiac was living inside Luthor at the time, improving upon his physical health and strength while "subtly influencing (his) actions". After they were confronted by Batman and then the rest of the founding members of the Justice League, which Waller had released from custody, Luthor and Braniac escaped to Washington, D.C. to a Cadmus building in order to merge with the Dark Heart, a nanotechnology-like alien being which the League defeated thanks to Atom. After both of them were defeated, Cadmus ceased operations against the League and the Justice League announced the establishment of a planetside base to improve their public relations. However, there were a few former members of Cadmus who were still against the Justice League, such as Tala and General Eiling. Project Cadmus was responsible for creating the characters Galatea (a clone of Supergirl who resembles Power Girl), Doomsday, the Royal Flush Gang, Volcana, the Ultimen (a team of genetically engineered heroes who are a pastiche of several heroes created for the Super Friends series) and ultimately Terry McGinnis (Batman II). When the Joker took the Royal Flush Gang from Cadmus, he also stole some technology he would later use to overwrite his DNA into Tim Drake during Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker as explained in Epilogue. Elements of the organization were later brought together to initiate 'Project Batman Beyond', to ensure that, in some form or another, there "would always be a Batman". Thus Cadmus is responsible for the continuation of the DC Animated Universe storyline into the future.
  • Project Cadmus first appears in the Young Justice episode "Independence Day." Project Cadmus is headed up by the seven members of Cadmus' Board of Directors that call themselves "The Light," codenamed L-1 (Vandal Savage), L-2 (Ra's al Ghul), L-3 (Lex Luthor), L-4 (the first Queen Bee of Bialya), L-5 (Ocean Master), L-6 (the Brain), and L-7 (Klarion the Witch Boy). According to series creator Greg Weisman, the numbers are based on the order in which they joined the Light. In "Independence Day" and "Fireworks," the Cadmus Building that was seen is run by Dr. Mark Desmond who is served by Dubbilex, Amanda Spence, and a brainwashed Guardian. Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash decide to do some investigating into Project Cadmus although their mentors in the Justice League instructed them to stay out of it while they were fighting Wotan. They fight Dubbilex, Guardian, and a group of alien-looking Cadmus creatures called Genomorphs consisting of G-Dwarves (the worker Genomorphs with tentacles), G-Elves (clawed Genomorph warriors), G-Gnomes (small Genomorphs with telepathy), G-Sprites (insect-like Genomorphs that are kept in jars and are capable of generating electricity), G-Trolls (large Genomorphs with super-strength), and G-Goblins (humanoid Genomorphs with telepahty and telekinesis) the only one being Dubbliex. The teen heroes eventually locate a stasis chamber containing Superboy. While making their way to the surface, Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Superboy run into Dubbilex, Guardian, and the alien-looking creatures who want their freedom from Mark Desmond. When Mark Desmond turns into Blockbuster, he knocks down Guardian before fighting Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Superboy. After Blockbuster is defeated by Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Superboy and then taken away by some of the Justice League members, Batman states that Cadmus will be investigated. The next day, Guardian becomes the new head of the Cadmus Building but running it in a Humane way. The Light wasn't pleased with what happened and vowed to make Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Superboy pay for what happened at one of their Cadmus Buildings. In "Agendas," Superboy meets Lex Luthor in Washington DC who tells him that Project Cadmus has created a new Superclone. Guardian shows Superboy that he has redesigned the Cadmus building since Blockbuster's defeat. Superboy is telepathically told by Dubbilex asking what would happen if he did find a Superclone. After recovering from the Superclone's attack, Superboy learns from Dubbilex that Dr. Mark Desmond and Lex Luthor headed Project Match with the Superclone being the original with full Kryptonian DNA but unstable. Dubbilex telepathically guides Superboy to Genomorph City where the missing Genomorphs are living free and that the Genomorphs have Match telepathically subdued. Match ends up breaking free and attacks Superboy and Dubbilex. Superboy ends up using the patches that Lex Luthor has given him to hold back the human DNA so that he can be on equal grounds with Match. Upon subduing Match, Superboy is ceased from attacking when Guardian and the others show up. With Match on ice in his pod, Guardian states to Superboy that "it has to be this way." In "Auld Acquaintance," Lex Luthor, Brain, Monsieur Mallah, Queen Bee, Ocean Master, and Ra's al Ghul infiltrate Project Cadmus and steal the clones that they have including the cryogenic pods holding both Match and the original Roy Harper.
  • The television series Smallville referenced a company called "Cadmus Labs," which Lex Luthor bought. This Cadmus, however, was just being used by Luthor as part of a larger plan; after it was taken from him in a hostile takeover by a woman (who pretended to love Lex) and her father, it turned out that the project was a feint. The company was in major financial and legal trouble and so the "lover" and her father were financially crippled. Later in Season 10, Cadmus would remain owned by LuthorCorp and secretly develop genetic research in order to create clones of Lex Luthor. Lex planned to use these clones to heal his wounds, but was unable to due to his apparent death at the hands of Oliver Queen. However, it was revealed in the first episode of the season, "Lazarus" that some clones had been created including a young/LX-15 and elderly version of Lex/LX-3. The young Lex is revealed to be a hybrid clone of Lex Luthor and Clark Kent and is living with Clark Kent in Smallville. In one scene, he even dons the Superboy costume which is jeans and a black shirt with a red S on the chest.

Film[edit]

  • Cadmus appeared in the live-action Green Lantern film, at the background when Waller and Hector Hammond enter the top secret DEO facility, a sign appears that said: "Cadmus". Later on when a transformed Hector Hammond attacks the facility and kills many security guards (including his own father) until Green Lantern stops him and saves Amanda Waller.

Video games[edit]

  • Cadmus Labs is involved with Superman Returns: The Video Game. During an interview, the game's executive producer mentioned that among the game's various enemies were "Bizarro's minions escaped from Cadmus Labs".[18]
  • Project Cadmus appears in DC Universe Online. In the Area 51 alert, the players encounter Project Cadmus' soldiers led by Mickey Cannon while preventing Brainiac's forces from stealing a piece of Kryptonite that was being held in the Area 51 buildings.
  • In the Batman: Arkham City DLC campaign called "Harley's Revenge", CADMUS is mentioned on posters jotted around the Sionis Steel Mill reading "CADMUS LABS. Building a brighter tomorrow."

See also[edit]

Sources and notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen" #136, (March 1971)
  2. ^ "Superman" vol 2 Annual #2 (1988)
  3. ^ Tye, Larry (1994). Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero. Random House. p. 249. ISBN 978-1-4000-6866-1. 
  4. ^ "Guardians Of Metropolis" #1-4 (1994-1995)
  5. ^ Adventures of Superman vol 1 #513 (June 1994)
  6. ^ Superboy vol 2 #57
  7. ^ Sins of Youth #1-3
  8. ^ "Superboy" #70-75 (Jan.-May 2000)
  9. ^ Outsiders #25, (July 2005)
  10. ^ "Countdown" #32-33 (September 2007)
  11. ^ Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen one-shot (Dec 2008)
  12. ^ JLA: The Nail #3
  13. ^ Batman Beyond Vol. 4 #8
  14. ^ Countdown #12-1
  15. ^ All-Star Superman #4
  16. ^ All-Star Superman #12
  17. ^ Young Justice One Million
  18. ^ Shack News