Project Cadmus, often referred to simply as Cadmus, was a secret division of the United States government dedicated to countering the power of metahumans in the world, particularly the members of the Justice League.
Cadmus' precise origins are unclear. The U.S. military and several major corporations had been collaborating for decades, experimenting on metahumans, extraterrestrials and mutants, and hoarding advanced technology, both human and alien, for profit and defense with the early efforts including Volcana, and the teenagers whom the Joker remade into his Royal Flush Gang. Various catalysts may have driven the origins of the Cadmus project. The agenda was boosted after Superman's rogue action of invading the Earth after being brainwashed by Darkseid. His actions forced the government to the belated realization that it had no adequate defenses to counter a being with his abilities despite General Hardcastle's rogue operations aimed solely at designing counter measures to Superman. Various other events including the Imperium whose ease of conquering was aided by Superman's being subtly albeit not directly manipulated by a rogue agent. The Thanagarian invasion, made the government realize it's defense technology in conventional terms was woefully inadequate to repel an alien invasion. Technology alone would not repel a technologically superior opponent.
A cornerstone of the Cadmus agenda was to aim their countermeasures at all the seemingly "good" metahumans based on the cynical belief that they cannot be trusted no matter how well-intentioned they seem. The latest incarnation of Cadmus was created in direct response to the aftermath of the Justice Lords, although Doomsday had already been created beforehand. In order to secure a presidential pardon for Lex Luthor so he could help the Justice League defeat the Justice Lords, Superman shared with the government the full details of what happened in the alternate dimension. Amanda Waller and others realized that if the Justice League decided to do the same thing, the government had absolutely no means of stopping it. Veteran intelligence operative Waller was appointed director of Project Cadmus, charged with creating effective counter-measures against a rogue League. Luthor was a secret source of Cadmus' funding, which allowed it to remain off the books with no discernible funding from the taxpayer. It was suggested that Cadmus was officially a division of the C.I.A.. Waller also had a direct line to the President's office.
The Cadmus Agenda
Cadmus research branched out in several different directions to develop weapons that would be effective against the League.
Emil Hamilton was in charge of its genetics division created cloned or genetically engineered metahumans conditioned to be loyal to the government. Said projects included: Doomsday, Galatea, and the Ultimen.
Tala was in charge of researching esoteric means of defense; utilization of magic and mysticism, proposed the theft of the Annihilator for use by Cadmus, but the plan went awry when the armor was stolen by Felix Faust and Tala was trapped in a mirror.
Cadmus also collected various pieces of technology in an attempt to use it, including the remains of the Dark Heart, however attempts to utilize it failed and the "Project Captain Nazi" serum captured from the Germans during World War II.
Another agenda was conspiring to undermine public confidence in the Justice League, promoting the popularity of "their" superheroes, to cause discord among its members, and, if necessary, provoke the League into making the first move in the war which Waller and Eiling believed to be inevitable.
In addition to Waller and the senior staff, Cadmus was allocated a small contingent of soldiers from the U.S. military. For specialized missions, Cadmus utilized a special black ops team composed largely of criminals and mercenaries, but led by Colonel Rick Flagg. Using criminals as soldiers alleviated the pressure of trained soldiers and were deemed expendable if they were captured or killed giving Cadmus and the Government deniability. It also employed the services of psychological counseling expert Dr. Hugo Strange and torture expert Dr. Moon.
The Justice League first began to learn of Cadmus' activities when Supergirl experienced an unexpected telepathic link with Galatea, who was engaged in assassinating certain indiscreet employees of Cadmus. The Question took the opportunity to air several of his theories about government conspiracies, which were partially confirmed by an interview with General Hardcastle.
However, the League did not get a concrete look at Cadmus until the incident with the Ultimen, when the original generation of failed Ultimen were rounded up by Cadmus after being defeated by the League.
A short time later, Batman confronted Waller in her own home, who frankly explained Cadmus' agenda. Later that same day, a disgruntled Dr. Milo released Doomsday from his bonds, hoping to get revenge on Waller. Unexpectedly, Doomsday turned on Milo, then returned to his ingrained mission: killing Superman. Waller ordered Eiling to contain the fiasco, which Eiling took as an excuse to fire a nuclear missile with a kryptonite warhead at a remote island where Superman and Doomsday were fighting. Thankfully, Batman managed to prevent the missile from hitting, and Doomsday was eventually sent to the Phantom Zone by Superman's Phantom Zone projector.
The Cadmus Crisis
Matters came to a head when the Question, who had stolen top secret Cadmus files, was captured by Luthor and tortured by Moon for information. Superman and Huntress broke into Cadmus headquarters in New Mexico to rescue him. Captain Atom, bound by his duty to prevent this friendly extraction, attempted to subdue the raiders, but was defeated by Superman and brought to the Watchtower with the Question as well. Afterward, the Justice League debated on their next move in response to Cadmus with the idea of a forceful approach gaining some interest.However, Green Arrow, who was recruited by Batman to be the team's political conscience for precisely this kind of situation, calmed the waters with a sophisticated assessment concerning their apparent enemy's reason for existing: self-defense in the event that the Justice League descended into the villainous excesses of the Justice Lords. Although the team was on the way to accepting the argument, events went immediately out of control with Watchtower's orbital laser cannon suddenly going into its firing sequence apparently on its own. Despite the League's best efforts to stop it, the weapon fired down on the Cadmus facility, destroying it and causing massive devastation in the surrounding area. However, Waller had already evacuated Cadmus' personnel and equipment to another facility, because of the security breach caused by Question's rescue.
Though the Justice League swore to the President that they had not fired the cannon, six of the seven founding members (Superman, Wonder Woman, John Stewart, Shayera Hol, J'onn J'onzz, and Flash) handed themselves over to government custody as a sign of cooperation. Waller, seeing the strike as clear retaliation for taking Question, disobeyed the President's order to wait, and ordered Galatea to lead an army of Ultimen in a full-scale attack on the Watchtower. However, the League was able to hold their own against the clones.In the midst of the attack, however, Batman confronted Waller again and revealed that she had been set up by Luthor, who had access to a lot of Cadmus' technology. Realizing this, Waller ordered Galatea to stand down. It was then shown that Cadmus' single operational flaw was revealed: no counter for the countermeasures. The unstable Galatea ignored the order in an effort to murder Supergirl, and she was only stopped due to the efforts of Steel and Supergirl.
While providing funding to Cadmus, Luthor had been interested only in his own agendas: destroying Superman and making himself both superhuman and immortal. He had stolen Cadmus technology allowing him to fire the cannon remotely, and to build a second version of Amazo to transfer his consciousness into. Had it worked, it would have been a masterstroke: not only would he eliminate his unwitting partners and create a perfect body for himself, he would turn public opinion against the Justice League so as to make killing Superman an act of heroism. Hoping to at least stop Luthor, Waller destroyed his prototype android and released the founding members... only for Brainiac to emerge from within Luthor. Using the Dark Heart stolen from Cadmus, Lex and Brainiac merged into a single being bent on absorbing the knowledge of the universe, starting with Earth and nearly defeated the Justice League. Fortunately, the Flash managed to stop the Luthor/Brainiac hybrid. It also taught Waller herself that the Justice League still had the peoples' best interests at heart.
Cadmus was subsequently disbanded, its personnel reassigned, and its research was classified. Waller later remarked that they were lucky that they weren't in prison for their actions.
In subsequent years, Cadmus seemed to exist under another name as a research bureau on metahumans, acting as an ally of the League. Waller later succeeded King Faraday as the official liaison between the League and the U.S. government.
However, General Eiling was, when reassigned to a desk job, furious with his superiors' acceptance of the Justice League and still believed that they were a threat. Breaking into Cadmus's former headquarters, Eiling stole the Project Captain Nazi serum and transformed himself into a super-strong brute. He claimed that, if Superman and the Justice League ever get out of control, he would be waiting to take them on.
At least 25 years before the start of Batman Beyond, the genetic modification technology Cadmus invented had been rendered illegal.
- Amanda Waller
- General Eiling
- General Hardcastle (deceased)
- Dr. Hugo Strange
- Dr. Milo (deceased)
- Prof. Emil Hamilton
- Tala (deceased)
- Maxwell Lord
- Lex Luthor (possibly deceased)
- Dr. Moon
- Doomsday (imprisoned in the Phantom Zone)
- Galatea (possibly deceased)
- Captain Atom (turned aganist Cadmus during attack on Watchtower)
- Task Force X
- The Ultimen (deceased, cloned into army)
- Royal Flush Gang
- Terry McGinnis (Project Batman Beyond)
- Joker used Cadmus technology on Tim Drake
The organization that would later be called Cadmus has its origins in the early 1970s as the D.N.A. Project (and sometimes simply as "the Project") in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #133, one quarter of Jack Kirby's "Fourth World" titles. The group's ethically questionable, though well-intentioned, experiments would frequently cause Olsen and his comrades (many of them products of The Project) no small amount of grief. This was due, in part, to the machinations of the Fear Factory, essentially an evil counterpart to the D.N.A. Project, backed by none other than Darkseid, master of Apokolips. It existed, in part, to provide some superhuman muscle for Darkseid's other Earth-based project, Intergang.
The D.N.A. Project made a return to comics in the Superman family of titles (Superman Annual #1, 1988), where it was renamed "Project Cadmus" after the hero of Greek mythology who "grew" warriors from the teeth of a dragon. Among other things, it was responsible by the creation of the Post-Crisis version of Superboy, from gene samples extracted from both Superman and Lex Luthor.
By the time Cadmus made its appearance in Justice League Unlimited, all connection to Kirby's "Fourth World" and New Gods had been replaced with that of the Suicide Squad/Task Force X and elements of DC Comics Checkmate, taking on a much more sinister role than its comic book counterpart.
On the special feature Cadmus: Exposed, the producers of Justice League Unlimited explained that their version of Cadmus was much more politicized than the comics version, which was more a loose collection of mad scientists with no concrete agenda.
Sightings and references
- "Fearful Symmetry"
- "Dark Heart"
- "The Doomsday Sanction"
- "Double Date" (Mentioned Only)
- "Task Force X"
- "The Balance"
- "Question Authority"
- "Panic in the Sky"
- "Divided We Fall"
- "Epilogue" (Mentioned Only)
- "Patriot Act"
|PR / Manager||Maxwell Lord|
|Psychology||Hugo Strange • Moon|
|Military Tactics||Wade Eiling|
|Captain Atom • Doomsday • Galatea|
|Ultimen||Downpour • Juice • Shifter • Long Shadow • Wind Dragon|
|Task Force X||Captain Boomerang • Clock King • Deadshot • Rick Flagg • Plastique|