First hinted at in the Justice League Unlimited episode Fearful Symmetry, the government plot to provide a counterbalance to the Justice League's rapidly-increasing power base has become the main plot point of the current season, which is set to come to a head in this season's four-part finale. However, despite the claims of Amanda Waller, who claims that the Cadmus Project came into being as a result of the events of A Better World, or the Question, who claims that it really began following the events of Legacy, the octopus-like tendrils of the Cadmus' conspiracy can be traced to the DCAU's very beginnings. Surprisingly, the more one digs into the DCAU's past for clues, the more Amanda Waller's assertion that, "We're [...] protecting our country from a very real threat: you," takes on disturbing connotations.
BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES
On Leather Wings and Terror in the Sky
The first and second appearances of Dr. Kirk Langstrom, who genetically augments himself (and, later, his wife accidentally) with bat DNA to become the Man-Bat, arguably making him the first instance of a "splicer," a term introduced in Batman Beyond. It is later revealed that his notes fall into the possession of the Cadmus Project and Dr. Milo.
The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne
The first appearance of Dr. Hugo Strange, a classic Batman villain who specializes in psychology; in this episode he develops a machine that can read people’s minds. Later becomes a key player in the Cadmus Project, possibly as an expert on mind control.
Batman encounters Dr. Emile Dorian—a contemporary of Dr. Langstrom, but working independently—after he abducts Catwoman and “splices” her with cat DNA in order to make her a potential mate for his feline / human hybrid Tygrus. While there exists no stated connection, it’s possible that the Cadmus Project is aware of Dorian’s work, and has confiscated his notes as well.
Cat Scratch Fever and Moon of the Wolf
First and second appearances of Dr. Achilles Milo, who—in Moon of the Wolf—transforms professional athlete Anthony Romulus into a werewolf by “splicing” him with wolf DNA. It was this primarily this activity that brought him to the attention of Cadmus, who hired him as an expert on human / animal hybridization, but he would later be removed from his station due to a lack of further results.
Blind as a Bat
A bad experience with developing weapons for the military cements Bruce Wayne’s reluctance to do so in the future, as seen in World’s Finest.
During an encounter with Lyle Bolton, the sadist ex-chief of security of Arkham Asylum who later adopts the costumed identity of Lock-Up, Batman draws a line in the sand in regards to where justice and fascism lie on his spectrum.
THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES
CrittersAnother episode featuring genetic engineering, this time on farm animals. It is possible that the Cadmus Project has confiscated Farmer Brown's notes.
The Last Son of Krypton
This episode chronicles Superman's first adventure as a crimefighter in Metropolis, as well as the first appearance of Lex Luthor, the man who may or may not be bankrolling the Cadmus Project. Also, this episode features the beginning of the ongoing Superman / Lex Luthor rivalry.
A Little Piece of Home
The first appearance of Dr. Emil Hamilton, who starts off as Superman’s friend, but later joins the Cadmus Project following their confrontation in Legacy. Lex Luthor discovers the wonders of kryptonite and gets his first sample of Kryptonian DNA, which he uses to begin his cloning experiments. Finally, the jet packs used in this episode by Luthor’s henchmen resemble the ones used by Cadmus agents in Fearful Symmetry.
The Way of All Flesh
Lex Luthor has former henchman John Corbin poisoned, and then uses his brain as part of his project to create Metallo, which he uses in his campaign against Superman.
Lex Luthor allies himself with Brainiac, but their initial team-up is short lived, as Brainiac betrays him. Brainiac is destroyed, but leaves a copy of its program in Luthor’s computer systems.
Blast From the Past
Dr. Emil Hamilton and Superman discover a Phantom Zone projector in Superman’s space craft, which they use to free a prisoner who had served her sentence, but she rebels and frees the disgraced General Jax-Ur. During their misadventure, which includes Kryptonian villains attempting to take over the world, Hamilton gets to see Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, as well as another taste of Kryptonian technology (he learns how to build a Phantom Zone projector). The first instance of a Kryptonian attempting to conquer the world.
First appearance of General Hardcastle, Lex Luthor’s friend in the military and a man who hates Superman. It’s later revealed that many of Hardcastle’s pet projects were funded by Luthor.
Anti-Superman sentiment grows, thanks to radio personality Leslie Willis, who is employed by Luthor and is the top commentator on one of his radio stations. Following the accident that transforms her into Livewire, there is a question among some that Superman didn’t do enough to save her from that electrical storm…and may have even wanted her to die.
Using the Kryptonian DNA pilfered from Superman’s blood (which he obtained in A Little Piece of Home), Lex Luthor develops his first generation of Kryptonian clones, including the imperfect, brain-damaged Bizarro. The reason for Bizarro’s impairment had much to do with their lack of knowledge of Kryptonian DNA, but the process would become refined in later years, resulting in Galatea (Fearful Symmetry) and Doomsday (A Better World, The Doomsday Sanction).
Target and Solar Power
First and second appearance of Edward Lytener, an employee of Lex Luthor who would later adopt the costumed identity of Luminus. His expertise in hologram / light-based technology—including the technology to create solid light holograms—may explain Cadmus’ possession of a solid-light generating training chamber in Fearful Symmetry.
Brave New Metropolis
During Hamilton’s test run of a dimensional portal (which he was able to create using his experience with the Phantom Zone projector), Lois Lane falls into a parallel Earth where Superman and Lex Luthor have taken over Metropolis, turning it into a fascist police-state. It is assumed that both Superman and Hamilton were told about her adventure upon her return, which may have planted the first seeds of doubt in Hamilton’s head regarding Superman’s benevolent activities. The second instance of a Kryptonian attempting to conquer the world.
Ghost in the Machine
Brainiac, whose program still resides in Luthor’s computer systems, takes Luthor hostage and forces him to rebuild its body. In the end Brainiac is defeated, and Luthor is able to take possession of the Brainiac body, which—while built with Earth technology—was still built using Kryptonian know-how. Thus, Luthor gets his first piece of Kryptonian technology.
Bizarro’s World and Little Big Head Man
Bizarro’s second and third appearances; these are included here as both episodes feature a creature as powerful as Superman tearing up Metropolis.
Using John Henry Irons’ capabilities, Lex Luthor attempts to build a suit of armor that has the ability to take on Superman blow for blow. This model doesn't work too well, but this prototype may have been an antecedent to Luthor’s power armor from Justice League.
Little Girl Lost
During a visit to the Kryptonian star system, Superman answers a distress call on a neighboring planet, discovering Kara In-Ze, a Kryptonian-by-way-of-Argos who would soon become known to the world as Supergirl. She would return to Earth with the Man of Steel and, later, join the Justice League.
Where There’s Smoke
First appearance of Volcana, a woman with pyrotechnic abilities who was an unwilling participant in a government program designed to turn super-powered humans into weapons. This is the first instance of the military attempting to do so…but it would not be the last.
A Fish Story
Following a bad first meeting with Lex Luthor, Aquaman and the armies of Atlantis narrowly avoid declaring war on the surface world.
LegacyThe world’s fears come to fruition as a brainwashed Superman attacks the Earth and attempts to take power. Lex Luthor’s anti-Superman activities are given a name—Project: Achilles—which may or may not be a forerunner of the Cadmus Project. Lex Luthor and General Hardcastle fight and defeat Superman, but fail to keep him imprisoned (or kill him using a lethal injection of kryptonite)—this was the moment that Hardcastle fell out of favor with the military, leading to his early retirement and his murder in Fearful Symmetry. Driven to anger over Hamilton’s apprehension over treating a wounded Supergirl, Superman nearly attacks Hamilton, which is the moment when Hamilton begins to see Superman as a threat. During Supergirl’s treatment, Hamilton pockets a sample of her DNA, which is later used to create Galatea. In the end, Superman is treated as a pariah, and must work to reclaim his position as a benevolent champion. The third instance of a Kryptonian attempting to conquer the world.
In a world forty to fifty years in the DCAU's future, the genetic augmentation of humans using animal DNA has moved from a pioneering science and a domain of shadowy government conspiracies to a lifestyle choice, as Dr. Cuvier and the Chimera Institute mass-market it and give it the trendy name "splicing."
Zeta, Countdown, and The Zeta Project
Two episodes of Batman Beyond chronicled the story of Zeta, an sentient android created by the military to be a war machine, but who chose to rebel against its programming and pursue a pacifist lifestyle. The robot—who would soon receive its own spin-off series The Zeta Project—would later be connected to an earlier incarnation called the Z-8 Project, which was initiated by General Hardcastle.
At the urging of Senator J. Allen Carter—who would later be revealed to be an alien imposter—Superman disarms the world's stockpile of nuclear weapons, leaving it vulnerable to an attack by the Imperium. To combat this threat, the Justice League is formed.
The Enemy Below
Aquaman appears before the U.N. and tries to force his will upon them; they don’t take kindly to it. Also, the machinations of his brother Orm threaten to destroy the surface world.
Injustice For All
First appearances of Cheetah (a scientist who “splices” herself with cheetah DNA) and Copperhead (a man who appears to have been “spliced” with snake DNA by some unknown agency). Also, Lex Luthor discovers that he’s dying of cancer, becomes a fugitive, and dedicates the rest of his days to destroying Superman and the Justice League.
Simon Stagg, billionaire and head of Stagg Industries, attempts to sell his idea of transforming ordinary workers into superhumans to the corporate world, but fails to attract interest. Seeking a test subject, Stagg transforms his employee Rex Mason into Metamorpho, a man able to manipulate his body into any combination of elements. It is most probable that the Cadmus Project has been made aware of Metamorpho's origins, and have confiscated the notes.
While fighting Darkseid, Superman loses his cool, vowing to turn the Lord of Apokolips into a “greasy smear on his fist.” Batman tries to stop him—and eventually succeeds—but not before Superman strikes him out of anger.
Maid of Honor
The Justice League indirectly influences world political events, as they struggle to liberate Kasnia (and the world) from the machinations of Vandal Savage.
A Better World
The Justice League is overwhelmed and replaced by the Justice Lords, a version of the team from a parallel Earth where they assassinated the president, overthrew the world’s governments, and declared marshal law. They attempt to conquer the League’s Earth as they did their own, but they are defeated by the League and Lex Luthor. For his services, Luthor receives a full pardon but, in order to obtain it, Superman has to tell the authorities all about the Lords’ universe, which causes them alarm. The world is also introduced to Doomsday, who was created as part of the Cadmus Project to fight Superman, and Lex Luthor announces his desire to enter politics. Another highlight of the episode is the Justice League's Batman versus the Justice Lords' Batman, where "our" Batman reaffirms his stance against the fascism that the Lords' stand for. The fourth instance of a Kryptonian attempting to conquer the world (with the rest of the League in tow).
The Terror Beyond
Aquaman interferes with a military operation to capture and imprison Solomon Grundy, destroying government property in the process. The military commander blames the Justice League, as he incorrectly believes that Aquaman is a member.
G. Gordon Godfrey, a political commentator and talk show host, begins a muckraking campaign against the Justice League to boost his ratings. Although initially profitable, his credibility is ruined following a successful League mission that saved the solar system.
The Secret Society
It is revealed that the Justice League uses Z-8 Combat Trainers, which they purchase in bulk from the U.S. Military, in their training sessions.
First appearance of the Royal Flush Gang, whose ranks are made up of superhumans trained by the government to be weapons, as Volcana had been. However, the Joker hijacked them and used them for his own ends.
StarcrossedHawkgirl, a member of the Justice League from the very beginning, betrays the League and the Earth by selling them out to the Thanagarian military. Although her intentions were good—she thought she was helping to protect the inhabitants of the Earth from the threat of the Gordanians—their invasion nearly destroyed the planet. In the end the Watchtower and Javelin-7 are destroyed, and Hawkgirl resigns from the team. In the aftermath of this event, the League is forced to regroup and rebuild.
JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED
With an army of new recruits, a fleet of Javelins, and a new, larger Watchtower; the newly-reformed Justice League establishes itself as a world power in and of itself. Their first adventure: forcing their help on the breakaway nation of Chong-Mai.
For the Man Who Has Everything
Superman nearly loses control again, as Mongul pushes him to the breaking point. Batman presumably lets this slide, however, as Mongul's Black Mercy organism forces him to re-experience his parent's murder (he also beat the hell out of Wonder Woman).
Hawk and Dove
Hephaestus, the Greek god of the forge, creates the Annihilator, a magical suit of armor that is fueled by conflict. Ares gives it to a rebel faction in Kasnia, hoping to spur on a conflict into a civil war. Following Ares' defeat, after which he threatens to return "sooner than you think," the armor is confiscated by the Justice League. In The Doomsday Sanction, it is revealed that one of the Cadmus Project's immediate goals is to take the Annihilator out of the League's custody.
Fearful SymmetryThe first appearance of Galatea, a Kryptonian cloned from Supergirl’s DNA, and the Question, a conspiracy theorist and crimefighter dedicated to the uncovering of truth. Among the revelations in this episode: General Hardcastle originally commissioned the Z-8 (later Zeta) Project, which provides the robots that the Justice League uses for their training sessions; the government and big business have been performing experiments involving metahumans, mutants, aliens, and advanced technologies for decades (possible foreshadowing of Cadmus' evolution?); the military has a file on every member of the Justice League, and that NuvoGen is a front for the Cadmus Project, which Professor Hamilton is secretly involved in.
In addition, the Question alludes to the existence of the Illuminati, a "single cabal of powerful individuals that are directing the course of human history," which may or may not tie into the Cadmus Project and the government conspiracy against the Justice League (it's worth noting that, in the comic books, the man who originally organized the Illuminati was Vandal Savage).
Lex Luthor, now a private citizen and author of the book Into the Light, saves the world by confronting AMAZO and assisting it in its quest to find a purpose, which no doubt helps his public image.
The first appearance of Maxwell Lord, an independently wealthy financer; Amanda Waller, the head of the Cadmus Project; and the Ultimen, a group of young superheroes marketed as less "aloof" than the Justice League but are, in fact, artificial life forms that, due to a flaw in their genetic makeup, only last temporarily and must be replaced by fresh clones. Faced by their impending mortality, the team (save for member Longshadow) goes berserk, necessitating the involvement of the Justice League. In the end, the Ultimen are taken into custody by the Cadmus Project and Longshadow joins the Justice League (for what little time he has left). Other revelations in the episode include the fact that Amanda Waller knows Batman's secret identity, Cadmus is mentioned by name for the first time, and Waller hints of a group in her employ called "the Squad" (meaning, presumably, Suicide Squad—a group of convicted supervillains who, in exchange for a full pardon, are drafted into performing "suicidal" government missions).
First appearance of General Wade Eiling, a military liaison to the Cadmus Project. The League fights a replicating nano-tech organism that seeks to destroy the Earth; following the organism's defeat it is confiscated by the military. In addition, the military learns that, among other weapons, the new Watchtower features an orbital laser that qualifies as a weapon of mass destruction.
Wake the Dead
The Justice League readmits Shayera Hol—formerly known as Hawkgirl—into its ranks, a move that the Cadmus Project (as well as many other organizations) may see as a security risk.
The Cat and the Canary
A stadium full of people cheer when Wildcat apparently beats Green Arrow to death in a Meta-Brawl tournament, which may betray a shifting attitude in the general public towards the Justice League and its members.
The Doomsday Sanction
Batman confronts Amanda Waller with what he's learned about the Cadmus Project, to which she claims that they exist to counteract the perceived threat that the Justice League is becoming. The inner circle of Cadmus is revealed to be Amanda Waller (the head of the organization), Professor Emil Hamilton (in charge of the genetic engineering division), Dr. Milo (in charge of animal / human hybridization division, later terminated), Dr. Hugo Strange (in charge of the mind control division?), and Tala (in charge of the paranormal division?). The disgruntled Milo frees Doomsday from his imprisonment—revealing that Doomsday was created by Hamilton from a sample of Superman's DNA—and is killed by the monster, who sets off to hunt down Superman. Doomsday tracks down Superman, fights him, is defeated by him, and is banished to the Phantom Zone, much to the chagrin of Batman, who begins to wonder if Waller is correct in considering the League a threat. In addition, Lex Luthor officially declares his candidacy for President of the United States, which may facilitate the possibility of the Justice Lords outcome becoming a reality.
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