Karate Kid (comics)

Superherobox|

caption= Karate Kid
Art by Ed Benes
character_name= Karate Kid
publisher=DC Comics
debut="Adventure Comics" # 346
(July 1966)
alter_ego= Val Armorr
creators= Jim Shooter
alliances= Legion of Super-Heroes
aliases=
powers= master of every martial art in the 31st Century|

Karate Kid (Val Armorr) is a fictional character, a superhero in the future of the DC Comics universe, and a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. He is a master of every form of martial arts to have been developed by the 31st Century. The extent of his skill is so great that he can severely damage various types of hard material with a single blow and was briefly able to hold his own against Superboy through use of what he called "Super Karate".

Fictional character biography

Val Armorr was the son of Japan's greatest crimelord, Kirau Nezumi, also known as Black Dragon. When he was born, his mother, the American secret agent Valentina Armorr, tried to hide him from his father, but she failed and was killed for her affront. Japan's greatest hero Sensei Toshiaki (the White Crane) eventually killed Black Dragon for his crimes and adopted the infant Val. He raised Val as if he were his own son, and trained him in all manner of the martial arts. Val became the youngest warrior ever to earn the title Samurai, and he went to work for his local shogun. However, after trying his best and failing to please his supervisor, he quit and searched the galaxy for new forms of battle to master.

Legion of Super-Heroes

When Val returned to Earth, he found that the Legion of Super-Heroes was searching for new recruits to battle the Khunds. He applied, and, although he had no superhuman powers, was accepted when he challenged Superboy to single combat and so impressed the Boy of Steel that Superboy vouched for his admission to the Legion ("Adventure Comics" #346 clearly shows that though Superboy was surprised by the Kid's skill, strength, and speed, Val clearly had bitten off more than he could chew and could do Superboy no harm). His Legion career almost ended ignominiously when fellow recruit Nemesis Kid framed him for betraying Earth to the Khunds, but Nemesis Kid's own treachery was discovered in time, and Val went on to become one of the greatest Legionnaires ever. As Karate Kid, Val was the Legion's leader for one term and once took on the entire Fatal Five single-handedly, clearly defeating the Persuader, Emerald Empress, and Mano (though Mano was largely a matter of luck as the Kid admitted to himself). At one point or another he launched solo flying kicks at villains whose power level far exceeded Superboy, including Validus, Mordru, Omega and even Darkseid. Though they had little effect, they showed the degree of his fearless courage.

Val fell in love with Princess Projectra, who joined the Legion at the same time he did. In order to prove his worthiness of the princess' hand, he took a leave of absence and spent about a year in the primitive 20th century. During his visit there, Karate Kid was featured in an eponymous, short-lived comic book series. He returned to find Projectra's father dead. With Val's and the other Legionnaires' help, she won the throne from her cousin Pharoxx. Val officially became Projectra's consort soon afterward and resigned from the Legion.

Wedded bliss did not last long. He and Projectra returned from their honeymoon to find that her planet, Orando, had been taken over by the Legion of Super-Villains. Val, Projectra, and several other Legionnaires were captured by the villains. When the heroes escaped to oppose the villains, Val fought their leader, Nemesis Kid. Nemesis Kid beat Val almost to death, and Val wanted to continue to fight so that he could die in battle—the ultimate honor by his cultural standards. But at Projectra's urging, Val instead used his remaining strength to destroy the power source for the machines that were moving Orando into a strange dimension. In revenge, Projectra killed Nemesis Kid soon afterward. A memorial to Val was built on Shanghalla.

Myg of Lythyl, one of that planet's Three Judges, later applied for Legion membership and dedicated himself to carrying on the name of "Karate Kid." Like his predecessor, he possessed superior martial arts skills. He became a member of the second Legion of Substitute Heroes while training in the Legion Academy.

During the "Five Years Later" storyline following the Magic Wars, Earth fell under the covert control of the Dominators, and withdrew from the United Planets. A few years later, the members of the Dominators' highly classified "Batch SW6" escaped captivity. Originally, Batch SW6 appeared to be a group of teenange Legionnaire clones, created from samples apparently taken just prior to Ferro Lad's death at the hands of the Sun-Eater. Later, they were revealed to be time-paradox duplicates, every bit as legitimate as their older counterparts. However, this version of Val Armorr was killed in battle (along with SW6's Princess Projectra and Chameleon Boy) fighting Dominion troops.

In his 2007 return in "Justice League of America", Starman (Starboy) refers to Val having previously died without elaborating on how he returned from death.

1994 Reboot

In 1994 the Legion of Super-Heroes was restarted with a new history. In this version Karate Kid was very much alive. Initially a member of Leonard McCauley's Workforce team, he joined the Legion when McCauley, in his eyes, planned to "desecrate" a space anomaly. While the original Karate Kid had been something of a hothead, the new version was portrayed as spiritual and reserved.

2005 reboot

In 2005 Legion history was again erased and restarted. In this version Val Armorr was initially depicted with more Asian features, although he now appears to have predominantly Caucasian features. ["Legion of Super-Heroes" (Vol. 5) #37, February 2008.] Still a master of many varied disciplines of martial arts, he is the Legion's most skilled fighter. Although initially drawn to Shadow Lass, who possesses a similar warrior spirit, after he and Tasmia broke up, he harbored a one-sided infatuation with Phantom Girl. Karate Kid is slowly teaching the headstrong Ultra Boy how to focus his powers, and in fact regularly teaches all core Legion members self-defense techniques. It seems that he and Light Lass have now become close after spending the night with one another.

One Year Later and Countdown

In "Justice League of America" (vol 2) #7 the villain known as Trident was revealed to really be Val Armorr from the Pre-Crisis Legion. In issue #8 he battles Black Lightning and Batman while deep in the Batcave. During the fight, Superman's files are shown listing Val as a Class 15 fighter and Batman as a Class 12. Val is stopped when blasted by Black Lightning while Batman distracts him.

Karate Kid and Starman are two of seven Legionnaires currently in the present. However, this Karate Kid bears little resemblance to the one currently featured in the 2005 reboot, in both physical features and costume, instead closely resembling the pre-Crisis version of the character. Starman (the adult Starboy) mentions that Val once died, which is consistent with the character's pre-Crisis history. ["Justice League of America" (vol. 2) #10]

When being interrogated by Batman, Karate Kid, still disoriented, identifies himself as "Wes Holloway, a member of the Trident Guild." The name is a direct allusion to the protagonist of Brad Meltzer's latest novel, "The Book of Fate". He is teased within the narrative of "Countdown" about his heroic identity being inspired by the "Karate Kid" film. ["Countdown" #49]

When other Legionnaires, except for Starman, return to their own time, Val remains behind in the 21st Century. ["Justice League of America" (vol. 2) #10] In "Countdown" #38, he and Triplicate Girl, now known as "Una," visit Barbara Gordon, where it revealed that Val is dying. They are sent to see a Mr. Orr, who declares that he has the answers they seek.

Upon arriving at Orr's compound, Karate Kid briefly battles Equus, until Orr arrives on the scene, and tells them that Karate Kid's illness is similar to the OMAC virus. Under the order of Desaad, a lackey of Darkseid, Orr tells them to visit Buddy Blank in Colorado. Equus and a misunderstanding with the cops and Supergirl delays the trip. Val then meets Buddy Blank and his grandson, who take them to see Brother Eye. The entity scans Val, informing him that he is infected by the Morticoccus virus, and directs the group to what was once Blüdhaven. Brother Eye had detected a similar strain there. In Blüdhaven, the group encounters the Atomic Knights and Firestorm. When Val's sickness reaches breaking point, Brother Eye frees itself, and travels to Blüdhaven, turning it into its new base, and uses the Atomic Knights and Firestorm as power sources. He's later brought on Apokolips, as Brother Eye intended to assimilate the Morticoccus during Apokolips' assimilation. As the attempts fail, Brother Eye is forced to assimilate Una instead, having her carry Val inside himself for vivisection. As Brother Eye is defeated, both Val and Una are freed, but Val is now grievously wounded, with Una pleading for his life as the other assembled heroes consider the idea of killing him before the virus spreads. When the group arrives on another of the 52 Earths, Val is taken to Project Cadmus and dies as Dubbilex examines him. ["Countdown to Final Crisis" #7] During the autopsy, the Morticoccus is released, and spreads its infection into the air. Because of assimilating Val's 31st-century blood, it is practically immune to any form of treatment.

The bodies of Val and Una are eventually discovered by the Gotham City Police Department on New Earth, and Superman and the visiting Lightning Lad mourn their passing. It is later revealed that their bodies were planted there by the Time Trapper.

Powers and abilities

Karate Kid is the master of every documented form of martial arts to have been developed up to the 31st Century. He possesses the ability to sense the weakest spot in an object and his skill in hand-to-hand combat is seemingly superhuman, allowing him to simulate super-strength blows. He can severely damage extremely hard and strong materials — metals, stone, etc. — with a single blow. Karate Kid is also skilled with melee weapons, though he dislikes using them and rarely needs to use them.

Karate Kid's training included mental discipline which makes him more resistant to mind control.

Other media

*DC Comics granted Columbia Pictures permission to use the "Karate Kid" name for a series of successful movies starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. However, these films did not bear any significant resemblance to the comics version of the character. There is a thank you to DC Comics for allowing the use of the name at the end of the credits. Interestingly, although in reality Val Armorr was the first character to bear the name, the Legion's 31st century setting means that the movies were released a good thousand years before his birth, leading to "present-day" characters tending to reference the films when confronted with Val and his codename.

*Karate Kid appeared in the "Legion of Super Heroes" episode "The Karate Kid," voiced by Keith Ferguson. Despite defeating Superman in one-on-one battle (by throwing him out of a ring and causing a disqualification, rather than through physical force), his lack of a superpower meant he was initially given menial chores around the ship and later kicked out of the Legion for trying to take down Grimbor without back-up. He was later reinstated when he was able to defeat Grimbor with the other Legionnaires temporarily de-powered.

References

External links

* [http://www.majorspoilers.com/archives/1271.htm A Hero History Of Karate Kid]


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