Arnold Porter was an esteemed chemical engineer who distinguished himself on a number of projects for his employer, Alva Technologies. However, he was most proud of his latest project, the development of cohesion fluid, which he believed would be a boon to the company as well as earn him high praise. Due to the project's delicate nature, Porter spent years working alone in a top secret lab at Alva Technologies headquarters in Dakota City. As a result, his co-workers did not know who he was. This reality did not dawn on Porter, who thought his colleagues were rather rude. He was particularly resentful of Curtis Metcalf, whom he felt was overrated and thus unworthy to be the protege of the company's boss, Edwin Alva.
Eventually, Alva grew impatient with Porter's progress since he had yet to deliver a sample of cohesion fluid. Porter had the sample, but was putting it through final tests to confirm it was safe to use. Still, under mounting pressure, Porter considered abandoning the tests and giving the sample to Alva, who would then continue funding of the project.
Porter's initial caution was warranted since a flaw in the fluid's formula caused it to rapidly increase in pressure. As a result, the metal vat containing the fluid burst, spilling its contents on Porter as he was inspecting it. The scientist screamed in agony as the burning fluid covered him. Porter was in such excruciating pain that he was oblivious to the mysterious figures in hazmat suits, who carried him out of his lab. These men were scientists loyal to S.Y.S.T.E.M., a malevolent international conspiracy that secretly rules the world. Edwin Alva was a member of S.Y.S.T.E.M. at the time and may have been responsible for Porter's kidnapping.
When Porter came to, he found himself alone in a barely furnished cell at a hidden S.Y.S.T.E.M. base. Porter then saw himself in the mirror and beheld a pale-skinned corpse-like being staring back. The combination of Porter's solitary confinement and his disfigurement drove him insane. He was convinced that Alva and Curtis Metcalf sabotaged the cohesion fluid, thereby causing the accident. If he ever regained his freedom, Porter swore that he would destroy their lives as his had been destroyed.
One day, Porter happened to touch a wall of his cell, part of which quickly grew brittle and then fell apart. He quickly realized that the cohesion fluid had granted him the ability to dissolve metals on contact. Porter used his newfound power to dissolve his cell door and escape confinement. Shortly after leaving his cell, Porter was confronted by SYSTEM guards. Instinctively, Porter's skin extended tentacles that strangled the guards. After dispatching additional opposition, Cadaver broke out of the SYSTEM base and fled into the night.
Porter would spend the next several months honing his bizarre powers and plotting his revenge against Alva and Metcalf. It was during this period that Porter decided to call himself Cadaver, a name befitting his ghoulish appearance. When he was finally prepared, Cadaver was dismayed to learn that Alva had died during the infamous Utopia City Riots. However, Cadaver's disappointment turned to delight when the media reported that Metcalf was alive and had founded his own company, Hard Company. After doing some research, Cadaver concluded that the best time to strike at Metcalf would being during Hard Company's late shift, when staff would be minimal, and the company's enforcer, Hardware, would be elsewhere.
Cadaver entered the lobby of Hard Company's headquarters, wearing a hat and trenchcoat to conceal his appearance. However, when he inquired about seeing Metcalf, the receptionist Karen Fanroy quickly realized he was a threat and pulled her gun on him. Cadaver easily disarmed her and continued his search for Metcalf, who ironically was away on business. Because Cadaver was so obsessed with his vendetta, he did not notice Fanroy hitting the silent alarm, which alerted the Hard Company staff and Metcalf of the intruder's presence.
Eventually, Cadaver's search for Metcalf led him to the main lab, where he was ambushed by Hard Company's staff and Metcalf's girlfriend, Barraki Young. Unfortunately, their valor and improvised weapons were not enough to defeat Cadaver, who offered to spare their lives if they revealed Metcalf's location. However, this show of mercy swiftly passed after Hard Company employee Jeong Lee hurled a beaker of burning chemicals into Cadaver's face. Enraged after being further disfigured, Cadaver swore to kill everyone in the lab as he planned to do to Metcalf.
The efforts by Hard Company and Young were not in vain since they gave Curtis time to sneak into Hard Co's underground lab and don his Hardware armor. He then use his sonic drill to quickly tunnel to the surface and into the main lab, taking Cadaver by surprise. Nevertheless, Hardware's metal based arsenal quickly proved just as ineffective against Cadaver's corrosive skin as his allies' attacks.
Hardware ordered everyone to flee so he could fight Cadaver without them being harmed. Unfortunately, Hardware's colleague Ann Kim was caught by one of Cadaver's tendrils. The insane scientist then threatened to turn Ann inside out unless Hardware surrendered Metcalf, not knowing his foe stood before him. Stalling for time, Hardware persuaded Cadaver to reveal his origins and why he hated Metcalf so much. Hardware used this time to secretly order his on-board computer to concoct a special polymer immune to Cadaver's powers. When Cadaver finished his story, Hardware fired a knockout gas shell to distract the mad scientist long enough for Ann to escape. The hero then used the sonic drill to hurl Cadaver against a nearby wall and then restrained him with the polymer.
After making certain Young and his colleagues were fine, Hardware explained to Cadaver that he would finally receive the help he clearly needed. Subsequently, Cadaver was shipped in a special containment cell to Davy Jones Locker, an undersea maximum security prison for supervillains. The former Arnold Potter remains there to this day as Davy Jones staff work to heal his shattered mind as well as his body.
- Unique Physiology: Exposure to the cohesion fluid mutagenically altered Cadaver's skin, which turned pale in color and normally clings tightly to his skeleton. His skin has several other unusual properties that are the source of his metahuman powers.
- Corrosive Touch: Through an act of will, Cadaver can cause special glands in his skin to secrete a chemical that rapidly breaks down the molecular structure of metal on contact. Thus, his merest touch can dissolve any metal no matter its density.
- Elastic Skin: Cadaver's skin is incredibly elastic and has numerous additional nerve endings that respond to his mental commands. As a result, he can shape his skin in anyway he can imagine. Typically, Cadaver causes his skin to extend from his body as tentacle-like appendages that he can control as skillfully as his own limbs. He can also use these tentacles offensively to trip up, bind, or strangle opponents. Furthermore, Cadaver's skin retains its corrosive properties when extended, thus enabling him to destroy an opponent's metallic defenses and weapons at a distance.
- Enhanced Strength: Porter's transformation into Cadaver has clearly made him stronger than he was in his human form. Whether this strength is truly superhuman is unknown.
- Mental Illness: Cadaver is certifiably insane.
- Vulnerability to Non-Metallic Substances: Cadaver's corrosive touch has no effect on non metallic substances: plastics, wood, human flesh, etc. Hence, such materials are the best defense against his corrosive abilities. Conversely, these materials can be used to imprison Cadaver.
- Monstrous Appearance
- Cadaver is an enemy of Hardware
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