Project Cadmus

"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 (writer - artist))
In-story information
Type of organization Genetic research
Base(s) Metropolis

Project Cadmus is a fictional genetic engineering project in the DC Comics Universe. 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.

Publication history

Project Cadmus 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.

Fictional organization history

Project Cadmus 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. Cadmus is seemingly destroyed entirely,[5] but the Project had simply taken the opportunity to go underground.

New management

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 superheroes, including mutinous superpowered beings from within their own ranks.[7] Other characters form another resistance cell and ultimately defeat the 'Evil Factory'.[8]


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. During 52, Project Cadmus is shown to be still in existence.

It wasn't until Countdown to Final Crisis 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]

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.

The New 52

In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), Project Cadmus is located beneath Cadmus Industries. Kevin Kho worked for Project Cadmus as a genetic researcher under Martin Welman. Kevin's co-workers at Project Cadmus include Tony Jay and Kevin's fiancé Jody Robbins. One day during Kevin Kho's employment, Brother Eye activated Kevin's OMAC side and nearly had him level Cadmus Industries to steal its mainframe.[12] It was also revealed that Mokkari had infiltrated Project Cadmus as a researcher on Desaad's behalf.[13]


During the Convergence storyline, the Pre-Zero Hour Superboy has lost his powers shortly after claiming his super-identity. In addition to their support for the Metropolis citizens trapped under the dome, the Pre-Zero-Hour Cadmus keeps track of the now-human Superboy who is undergoing deep emotional problems.[14]


Former members

Alternate versions

All-Star Superman

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.[17]

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.[18]

Batman Beyond

In the Batman Beyond universe, CADMUS is still active and run by Amanda Waller, Dr. Thawne and others.[19]

Cadmus One Million

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 and is later implied the humanoid is Lobo.[20]


This alternate dimension features a Project Cadmus that becomes the focal point of the characters Buddy Blank, Kamandi, and Brother Eye.[21]

JLA: The Nail

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.[22]

Justice League 3000

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

In other media



Video games

See also

Sources and notes

  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. OMAC Vol. 4 #1
  13. OMAC Vol. 4 #5
  14. Superboy: Convergence #1 (April 2015)
  15. Superboy Vol. 4 #88
  16. DC Comics Presents #44
  17. All-Star Superman #4 (July 2006)
  18. All-Star Superman #12
  19. Batman Beyond Vol. 4 #8 (October, 2011)
  20. Young Justice One Million (Nov. 1998)
  21. Countdown #12-1 (2008)
  22. JLA: The Nail #3 (October 1998)
  23. Abrams, Natalie (March 30, 2016). "-What is Project Cadmus". Entertainment Weekly.
  24. Shack News
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