The 1950s Jack Kirby Comic That Inspired the Creation of the Cadmus Project

This is “Just Like the Time Before,” a feature where I examine instances from comic book history where comic book creators did early versions of later, notable comic book characters and plot ideas. Essentially, the “test runs” for later, more famous characters and stories.

Today, I look at Jack Kirby’s early clone comic book story that inspired his Cadmus Project during Kirby’s historic Jimmy Olsen run.

When Jack Kirby took over Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen with #133 (inked by Vince Colletta initially), Kirby introduced a whole bunch of wild new characters, along with modern versions of Kirby’s 1940s characters, the Newsboy Legion.

We slowly realized that all of these wild characters were all tied to one Project, which Superman introduces Jimmy to in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #135…

Yes, they’re all about clones at this place. At the end of the issue, they debut their clone of the Guardian, the superhero who teamed up with the Newsboy Legion back in the day…

In the next issue, Superman goes into even more detail about the Project, including introducing one of the scientists there, a “DNAlien” named Dubbilex…

The Project was mostly kept just as “The Project,” while it would also occasionally be called the DNA Project.

When the Project was introduced into Post-Crisis continuity in Superman Annual #2 by Roger Stern, Ron Frenz and Brett Breeding, it was now dubbed the Cadmus Project.

This was a reference to the Greek myth of the Cadmus seed, where Cadmus planted dragon’s teeth and from the teeth grew an army of warriors.

However, I think Roger Stern MIGHT have also been influenced in the use of the name by an earlier Kirby comic book story that used the word Cadmus (it might be a coincidence, as well, of course) that was clearly Kirby’s inspiration for the Jimmy Olsen stories.

Kirby wrote and drew “The Cadmus Seed” in Harvey Comics’ Alarming Tales #1.

It was written and drawn by Jack Kirby in that weird little period where the comic book industry had basically collapsed and so Kirby had to go wherever he could for odd jobs before finally getting to the point of working more or less full-time at Marvel Comics.

It is about a scientist who comes up with a way to grow people…

You can even see the bit with the cells looking like little people copied directly from the original story! Crazy.

Okay, folks, you MUST have some suggestions for other characters and/or plots that fit into this theme! Preferably more obvious ones than these coincidental ones, but I’ll take coincidental ones, too! So drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com for future installments!

In their feature spotlighting 'test runs' of characters & plots, CSBG shows the Jack Kirby comic that later inspired Kirby's Cadmus Project idea.

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