Sensing the untapped potential found in the planet's rapidly-expanding superhuman population, the seeds of Project: Cadmus (or the Cadmus Project, as it is alternately known) were sown in the initial collaborations between military and industry, whose actions were shrouded in secrecy and whose motivations were less than altruistic. These covert dealings—which included, but were not limited to, the analysis of advanced technologies, as well as experimentation on metahumans, mutants, and aliens—continued unabated for decades, providing both parties with profit and secrets well-suited for military application. Many of these top-secret projects dealt with the manipulation and training of metahumans with the intent of transforming them into living weapons, such as Project: Firestorm (which produced the pyrotechnic mutant Volcana) and the as-yet unnamed project that produced what would later become known as the Royal Flush Gang. Other projects came about as a response to the rising prominence of the superhumans, such as Project: Achilles, the Luthor / Hardcastle collaboration designed to eliminate the perceived threat of Superman. In the end, these projects produced results, but would prove to be ineffective the day their nightmare scenario came true.
Superman's invasion proved to all parties how woefully unprepared they were should they fall victim to an organized superhuman attack. This realization, driven home by frequent alien invasions, a dramatic rise in metahuman crime, and the emergence of the Justice League; led to a consolidation of these myriad top-secret projects into a cohesive, organized government program, codenamed Cadmus. Answering directly to the President, the Cadmus Project exists to create weapons specifically designed to combat the threat that the Justice League, and their metahuman ilk, now pose to the powers-that-be.
Dan Riba on the Cadmus Project: “We’ve got a team of the most powerful people on the Earth, and it would be extremely frightening for them to turn on us. People would be terrified. We wanted to make that a legitimate fear [on Unlimited]; it makes sense for the government to be scared of the League (courtesy of ToyFare Magazine).”
Dwayne McDuffie on the Cadmus Project: “The Justice League have no proof that Cadmus has anything to do with the nuke, or Doomsday, for that matter. […] They had quite a bit of circumstantial evidence, but they didn’t have physical evidence, [aside from the] easy-to-forge computer files that Question stole. Note Green Arrow’s argument that they should be making a bigger effort to find proof, and Superman’s admonition to Huntress that the Justice League wouldn’t make any moves against Cadmus (other than to save lives) until they had solid evidence.
“[The] Justice League has a gigantic chain of
evidence problem, [but the] problem [is] connecting anything to Cadmus, a
government black box operation that simply doesn’t exist.
“I’m sure Batman and the others will try to put together a case, but this is both unlikely to succeed and boring to watch. On the other hand, you have to assume that something came out of this on the legal front, as it will shortly be revealed that Cadmus biotech will be explicitly made illegal sometime in the next 10-15 years [for the Batman Beyond series] (courtesy of DwayneMcDuffie.com).”
Name: Amanda Waller
Voiced by C.C.H. Pounder
Following her graduation, Waller went to work for Marvin Collins, a man who was campaigning for a congressional seat. His campaign’s success was largely due to Waller’s political savvy, and she would later use that savvy while serving Intelligence for three Administrations. Among her accomplishments during this period was the reactivation of Task Force X, a covert military group with history dating back to World War II. Under Waller’s guidance, the program was reactivated and reconceived as a top-secret unit that offers convicted supervillains commuted sentences in exchange for their participation in clandestine paramilitary missions…missions so dangerous that they are considered suicidal, hence the unit’s nickname of “Suicide Squad.” Considered to be a success by her superiors, Task Force X furthered Waller’s political career, as she became an expert in metahuman affairs.
Following the incident where Superman was
brainwashed and attacked the Earth, it was decided that the
Name: General Wade Eiling
Voiced by J.K. Simmons
A cunning and ruthless military tactician, General Eiling is best known for his involvement in the Captain Atom Project, a program funded by the U.S. government intended to produce a superhuman operative. Needing a test subject for the project, Eiling blackmailed the wrongly-convicted Captain Nathaniel Adam into participating, promising a full pardon in exchange for his cooperation. Eiling then exposed Adam to experimental quantum energies, which transformed him into a being of pure atomic energy. Naming the nuclear-powered being Captain Atom, Eiling manipulated the manufactured hero into infiltrating the superhuman community, where he currently acts as a spy for the military.
Recruited for the Cadmus Project by Amanda Waller, Eiling serves as a military liaison for the top-secret organization, providing the muscle of the U.S. armed forces in their cold war against the Justice League.
Name: Professor Emil Hamilton
Voiced by Robert Foxworth
As impossible as it seems, the man who may be Cadmus' greatest asset in their war against the Justice League was once one of Superman's closest friends. A Nobel prize winner many times over, Professor Emil Hamilton was the general director of S.T.A.R. Labs, a Metropolis-based company dedicated to scientific study. Seeing an opportunity following Superman's debut in Metropolis, Hamilton quickly formed a research pact with the Man of Steel, in which Superman would allow S.T.A.R. Labs to study Kryptonian technology in exchange for assistance on missions, in the form of information and equipment. This agreement was an academic windfall for Hamilton, who was now able to study firsthand alien items such as Superman's spacecraft and the Phantom Zone projector. He was even able to visit the Fortress of Solitude, an honor reserved for few.
Their friendship, however, began to sour, as Hamilton began to question the wisdom of having such a powerful entity walking unchecked among humanity. These fears were fed by his encounter with the Phantom Zone criminals Jax-Ur and Mala, the account of the parallel world where Superman, driven mad with grief over the loss of Lois Lane, teamed up with Lex Luthor to create a fascist police-state; and the ongoing menace posed by Bizarro...but these fears were tempered by the knowledge that the Superman he knew was a decent and moral individual. That belief was shattered, however, when Superman attacked the Earth flanked by an army of Parademons. And even after it came out that Superman was brainwashed by Darkseid, the Man of Steel did threaten Hamilton with bodily harm if he did not operate to save Supergirl's life. These two incidents forever altered his perceptions about the Kryptonian immigrant—Superman was a definite threat and, realizing that steps would need to be taken should Superman go rogue again, Hamilton pocketed a sample of Supergirl's DNA for later use.
Later, Hamilton was approached by Amanda Waller, who asked him to join the Cadmus Project. He agreed, and became their expert in matters regarding genetic engineering. Presumably working from Luthor's notes detailing his earlier attempts to clone Kryptonian DNA (which produced the defective Superman clone Bizarro), Hamilton has refined the process—producing clones without the defects of their predecessor. These experiments produced the uncontrollable menace codenamed Doomsday, but they were also responsible for Galatea, a clone of Supergirl who has proven herself to be quite valuable as a field agent. Not all experiments were as successful, however, as the Ultimen project proved to be unworkable, as their cellular structure made them unsuitable mentally and physically. Despite this setback, Hamilton continues to be a valued member of the Cadmus team.
Name: Dr. Hugo Strange
Voiced historically by Ray Buktenica
A brilliant scientist turned career criminal, Hugo Strange used his considerable psychology and technological skills to blackmail his patients. One such caper, involving a machine that could read and record the thoughts of individuals, brought him into contact with Batman, who was investigating a case involving the blackmailing of Gotham judge Maria Vargas. During their encounter Strange discovered Batman's secret identity, and would have succeeded in selling the secret to a collection of his greatest rivals, but was double-crossed when Batman switched tapes on him. In the end Strange was arrested, his criminal activities revealed and his discovery thrown into question by a timely visit by a disguised Dick Grayson.
Years later, Strange was approached by Amanda Waller, either in prison or following his release, who asked him to join the Cadmus Project. He agreed, and presumably serves as an expert in psychology and mind control. Based on his resume, it is likely that he was responsible for the Ultimen's false memories and for the manufacturing of Doomsday's lasting, burning hatred of Superman.
Dwayne McDuffie on Hugo Strange and the "Bat-Embargo": "As you suspect, many Batman characters are unavailable for JLU, at least for the time being. It's only been a problem a couple of times [...] I wanted to use Hugo Strange [...his appearance in 'The Doomsday Sanction'] was to set up a later appearance. The later appearance won't happen now (courtesy of DwayneMcDuffie.com)."
Voiced by Juliet Landau
A Queen of the underworld, the mysterious figure known as Tala is, in actuality, a demonic being dedicated to the corruption of human souls and the spread of evil across the planet. Her presence in Cadmus' ranks is a mystery, but it is possible that she is posing as a human sorceress in order to carry out her own agenda. Either way, she currently serves the Cadmus Project as an expert on the paranormal, and her current assignment is to devise a plan to retrieve the enchanted, Hephaestus-forged Annihilator armor from the League's custody.
Name: Dr. Achilles Milo
Voiced by Armin Shimmerman
A criminal scientist operating out of Gotham City, Dr. Milo served as more of a work-for-hire criminal, rather than a mastermind in his own right. Previous plots included a plan to infect Gotham City's stray pet population with a custom-made disease, which partner Roland Daggett would then "cure" by selling the antidote at an inflated price, and the sale of a chemical cocktail designed to help Olympic contender Anthony Romulus win the Autumn Games. It was this second activity that brought him to the attention of the Cadmus Project, as the serum—which contained steroids and timber wolf estrogen—transformed Romulus into a genuine werewolf.
Approached later by Amanda Waller, Dr. Milo became their expert in animal / human hybridization. However, following a lack of results from his activities, Milo was removed from his station and demoted to a lesser capacity within the Cadmus organization. Enraged, he freed Doomsday from his imprisonment, under the condition that he kill Waller and Emil Hamilton for him. Instead, Doomsday promptly killed Milo and escaped, ending the life of a small-time criminal who spent his career trying desperately to compete in the big leagues.
Key DCAU Episodes That Tie Into the Cadmus Conspiracy
The Cadmus Money Trail - A Look at Potential Financers
"Did Superman ever mention that, to get Luthor's pardon, he had to tell us about your parallel universe adventure? All about it? We started to wonder what would happen if you took the same action that the Justice Lords did, so I had my people run some computer simulations. If the Justice League ever went rogue, what do you think would be the result?"
"Humor me. In every single scenario you'd beat us...badly. But that was before Cadmus; now we have the technology to defend ourselves."
An exchange between Amanda Waller and Batman from "The Doomsday Sanction"
Named for the Greek hero Cadmus, who is best known for sowing the dragon's teeth and, from them, creating a crop of artificial men; the Cadmus Project can trace its roots to 1970, when Jack Kirby took over Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen and transformed it from its goofy, Silver Age roots to a title that, in effect, linked Superman directly to Kirby's Fourth World saga. In its original form, Cadmus was conceived as a think tank with indefinable connections to the government that was dedicated to the cracking of the human genetic code. They were responsible for their fair share of genetic monsters (called DNAliens), but also produced many character's who would join Superman's supporting cast, such as the telepathic Dubbilex and the Guardian, who was a clone of an earlier, Golden Age hero. Its purpose virtually unchanged following Crisis on Infinite Earths, it was reintroduced into Superman continuity as a virtually identical institution, and would later be responsible for creating the Superboy clone that debuted during the Reign of Supermen storyline of the mid-1990s.
For Justice League Unlimited, the scope of Cadmus' vision has expanded somewhat, from a cloning facility into a paramilitary organization dedicated to standing against the perceived threat that the Justice League poses...though the organization's genesis can be traced back to the early days of Batman: the Animated Series (see here). Combining X-Files-style government conspiracy with several DC Comics story arcs from the past twenty years (including arcs from Captain Atom and Suicide Squad), the Cadmus Project has become a storyline that feeds into the "Trust No One" mentality introduced by the X-Files and reinforced by the current state of U.S. politics. And it is a force to be reckoned with—funded by a wealthy anonymous source, staffed by some of the DCAU's most brilliant and cunning minds...the Cadmus Project is an excellent adversary for this larger, more seasoned Justice League.
However, despite Waller's claims, one gets the feeling that Cadmus is less concerned with a direct attack by the Justice League—which still remains a distinct possibility—and more the League's growing power base. Much like the League's portrayal in the Kingdom Come series, Cadmus (and their backers) fear that the League—with its clout, advanced weaponry, and standing army of superhumans—is now less of a superhero team and more of a global political force, a presence that poses many uncomfortable questions to the powers-that-be. What would happen if Superman and company stopped fighting costumed villains and started taking on threats like third-world dictators and ecologically negligent corporations? What if the Justice League decided that they didn't like the current Administration in the White House and initiated their own "regime change?" These are more likely the reasons that Cadmus exists.
The primary recurring adversaries for the first two seasons of Unlimited, the Cadmus Project—in the form of both its overseers and their creations—will continue its cold war with the Justice League, a war that will cultivate into an open aggression that will be played out in this season's final four episodes.
Images courtesy of Toon Zone.
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