Project Cadmus was originally formed as the DNA Project, and was founded by mad scientist Dr. Dabney Donovan and the Newsboy Legion. It was a scientific research group that was connected with the government of the United States, and worked specifically with genetic research.
The DNA Project was created by Jack Kirby. Project Cadmus was retooled by John Byrne and Roger Stern.
In the early years of the project, major projects involved genetic engineering and cloning experiments, which resulted in the creation of DNAliens, humans engineered to gain superhuman abilities, a byproduct of which was an altering of their appearance to resemble aliens. Numerous "normal" clones were created by the project as well, including clones of the Guardian and the members of the Newsboy Legion. The Hairies, a group of intellectually advanced hippies were also created, but sequestered themselves away from the workings of Cadmus. A number of miniaturized monsters based upon horror films that Donovan liked were also created.
After the Crisis on Infinite Earths the DNA Project's name was changed to Project Cadmus. During this time the Project created the new Superboy, a clone created from the genetic material of Superman and Lex Luthor. He was rescued from the project by the original Newsboy Legion. Also at this time the Cadmus-created clone of the Guardian, called the Golden Guardian, worked as the head of Cadmus security, and Dubbilex, a DNAlien, was also a member of staff there. The Project came under the direction of Paul Westfield, who had an approximation of Superman's DNA created after the hero's death at the hands of Doomsday. Westfield sent a Guardian clone, Auron, to take the sample from the Newsboy Legion, and Auron nearly killed the new Legion before his Guardian memories surfaced and he took the sample into space. This caused the Legion to seriously contemplate leaving the Project.
During The Fall of Metropolis, Cadmus was involved in fighting Lex Luthor, and many of their creations suffered from a "clone plague" leaving many clones sick or dying. After Westfield was killed by Donovan, now completely mad and allied with Apokolips, Cadmus appeared to have been destroyed completely. In reality, however, the Project simply went underground to avoid notice and scrutiny. The Newsboys and their clones soon left the Project altogether, and it was put under new management, taken over by Mickey "The Mechanic" Cannon. Dr Serling Roquette joined the project as the head of genetics, and Donovan returned to the Project, though he was kept under guard. This new Cadmus again became more open to the public, though soon after it was taken over by the Evil Factory, an opponent group run by followers of Darkseid that was revealed to be under the sway of The Agenda. During this period the Project produced clones for The Agenda.
When Luthor became President he began to put pressure on the Project, which made the leaders of the Project uncomfortable. By the end of the Imperiex War the project had disbanded altogether, and the underground factories were abandoned. In 52 it was revealed that Cadmus was still in existence, though its purpose and membership were unknown. During the Countdown, Cadmus resurfaced, still headed by Cannon, seeks out the help of Jimmy Olsen. Both Roquette and Dubbilex were also revealed to have remained with Cadmus at this point. Jimmy leaves the project out of fear for the destructiveness of his new powers, but returns sometime later when he discovers that Cadmus was involved in creating Codename: Assassin. The Project has again been disbanded, and the facilities abandoned save for Dubbilex, who reveals that Cadmus assets have been turned over to the control of an alien-killing military project.
The DNA P.R.O.J.E.C.T., run by Dr Leo Quintum, appears in All-Star Superman, with the purpose of creating a replacement Superman should anything happen to the original. In the process of this they create a serum that can give an ordinary human Superman-like powers. Taken by Jimmy Olsen, this serum creates a Doomsday-like creature that is able to defeat Superman, who has been exposed to black kryptonite. This version of the Project also created Bizarro worker drones, giants and nanonauts. It is implied that they have also created a functioning Superman clone.
Cadmus One Million
In the 853rd Century, Cadmus has control overt the latest Superboy, the millionth clone of the original. At the behest of Cadmus, Superboy goes in search of 20th Century DNA, later implied to be Lobo.
On Earth-51, Cadmus is related to Brother Eye, Buddy Blank and Kamandi.
In Other Media
Cadmus was a major villain in the third season of the Justice League animated series (first season of Justice League Unlimited). The version was a combination of the original Cadmus, Checkmate and the Suicide Squad. This version started as Project: Achilles in Superman the Animated Series, and was designed to defend Earth should Superman go rogue again. Their remit was soon expanded to cover the whole of the Justice League. Major members of Cadmus included Amanda Waller, General Eiling, Professor Hamilton, Dr Moon and Tala. Major financial backing was provided by Lex Luthor. After Luthor attempted to take over the world by merging with Brainiac, Cadmus was disbanded.
Cadmus appeared in a number of episodes of Young Justice. It is run by seven people, identified collectively as "The Light." The Cadmus facility shown is run by Mark Desmond, who has a brainwashed Guardian and Dubbilex under his command. This version of Cadmus directs a number of villainous activities throughout the series.
On Smallville, Cadmus appears as Cadmus Labs, a research facility purchased by Lex Luthor. The purchase was later revealed to be a trap for a woman who took the project from Lex in a hostile takeover, and she was instantly mired in financial and legal troubles. The Project appeared again in the tenth season, still a part of LuthorCorp and involved in the creation of clones of Lex. Lex's plan to create these clones to heal his wounds was foiled by his apparent death, however two clones, LX-15 and LX-3, adolescent and elderly versions respectively, were revealed to have been created. LX-15 was revealed to be a clone of both Lex and Clark Kent, and was clearly meant to be Superboy. He was taken in by the Kents.