Who's the Cadre?

Who's This? A toyetic supervillain team.

The facts: When I first got issue 4 of Who's Who, I thought the Cadre was probably a Satellite era supervillain team. I didn't clue in that they had a super-baseball pitcher, which was silly. Because yeah, they're totally Detroit League era! What's worse, I borrowed all those comics from a fellow fan back in high school, so I would have read them. No memory of it. Uh-oh. So anyway, the Cadre first appeared in JL of A #234-236 (1985), so very new when they got an entry. After that initial storyline, they're mostly seen piecemeal. For example, Shrike dies in a Suicide Squad story, but she's back later (continuity on these guys is not at a premium), and various members are seen in the background of such groups as the Secret Society. When the Cadre has returned, it's either without Overmaster, led instead by Doctor Polaris (in The Power Company), or he's there, but the Cadre is composed of entirely different characters (in JLA/I/TF). It's a bit of a hodgepodge, but a lot more than I was expecting.
How you could have heard of him: The Cadre returned to plague Justice League United in the New52 (working for Byth, because Lemire might have been reading Who's Who in order), and was also swiftly defeated in an episode of Justice League Unlimited.
Example story: Justice League of America #235-236 (February-March 1985) by Gerry Conway, Chuck Patton and Mike Machlan
Bunch of people just got upgraded by a giant Egyptian-looking dude, what's next? How about Fastball interrupting Steel and Gypsy's meet-cute? (Yes, this is VERY early in the Detroit League era.)
One of the reasons I responded positively to the Cadre entry is the Chuck Dixon art. He makes super-people look so "toyetic". But Fastball... Fastball is I think a failure. Mostly because of the washed-out colors. But sports gimmicks tend to be silly. The other supervillain pitcher - Marvel's Boomerang - didn't fare much better. Fastball's tobacco-chewing is on point though.
Now that's someone I think we can all root to fail. Throwing explosive balls at superheroes, fine. Spitting brown gunk in public spaces? Unacceptable! Steel smashes him under a piece of concrete, but then finds he's disappeared. The rest of the issue is mostly about a Vixen subplot and Aquaman acting like a fascist jerk (he's basically Batman in the Outsiders), until the team's quinjet is teleported to Overmaster's lair to face the Cadre.
Overmaster claims to be a god guiding the course of life on Earth and speaks in an I/We syntax. Shrike standing on his shoulder and stroking his temples gives off Jabba energy. But as far as throwing powerful energy blasts around, he could work on his aim. So he throws his minions at the League. Black Mass:
You'll note this is the second time he bulks out in a few pages (and was already bulked on the last page of the previous issue), so among his powers is the ability to defy continuity. A lot of the action involves throwing rocks around. Shrike:
I remember how, in Suicide Squad, she had become a Christian, and that ties into her portrayal here as the member of the Cadre who is the most loyal to Overmaster and truly believes him to be a god, or THE God. Faith is prime motivation for her. Her sonic powers aren't too dissimilar from Vibe's and he's the one to shock wave her into unconsciousness. But then: Crowbar.
Defeating Vibe on his second day as a superhero is one thing. But then Wannabe Wrecker throws his weapon at Aquaman.
Badass move from the King of the Seven Seas, followed by a hilarious move from Shatterfist, with Crowbar then going, "dude, my crowbar!". Shatterfist:
Hilarious, and yet he's the member with no sense of humor. Be that as it may, this team seems woefully unsuited to fighting inside a cave, so bringing the League there seems a mistake. How long before there's a fatal cave-in? A new crack in the floor leads the League to Overmaster's actual body - he's a gross space parasite - and then it becomes a case of the Cadre running interference as the heroes try to reach a glowing pyramid that's connected to the godling's power.
They don't fare well (but look, Nightfall finally does something), but Martian Manhunter has more trouble with Overmaster him/themselves. At least until Gypsy earns her stripes by pinching him in the shin then touching the pyramid and making all the bad guys disappear. Minutes later, Overmaster's spaceship rips out of the glacier and leaves. As the Who's Who entry states, it's not clear if the Cadre follow him. I guess we found out later that it didn't. Where did Crowbar get a new weapon though?

In the final analysis, this introductory story did little to make the Cadre an interesting threat, especially once you disconnect Overmaster from its story. The Cadre's members are just tools. Taken separately (and they don't really look like a cohesive whole), you might imagine any of them as the kind of villains the hero takes care of in the first two pages of a comic before getting to the main event. I know Conway was trying to Marvelize the League, and in fact I think they'd all fit better in Marvel's street level comics. They're Spider-Man or Shang-Chi villains. Heck, some of them look downright BASED on Marvel villains. So it's a no from me, dawg.

Who's Next? The House of Mystery's caretaker.



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