Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Who's Who: Karate Kid

Karate Kid
by Russell & Siskoid

Real Name: Val Armorr
Super-Power(s): Master of all known fighting techniques. Although possessing no specific super-powers, his body was a living weapon
Planet of Origin: Earth
Legion Seniority: Karate Kid joined the Legion at the same open call where Princess Projectra, Ferro Lad, and Nemesis Kid joined. As per tradition, Projectra is listed first, making him Legionnaire #24 after Ferro Lad.
He was elected Legion Leader during the second half of Year 7. 

Legion Log 
Karate Kid made his debut at the open call for applicants during the first Khund invasion attempt of Earth. However, during their first mission the new members were suspected of helping the Khunds. Although the traitor turned out to be Nemesis Kid, the three others bonded under the adversity of suspicion and quickly became good friends. Karate Kid never forgave Nemesis Kid for trying to frame him.

Karate Kid was one of the most dynamic members of the Legion from the moment he appeared as an applicant. Admitting that he had no specific super-power, he challenged Superboy to a fight and managed to hold his own against the Teen of Steel. Superboy was so impressed, he enthusiastically endorsed the applicant, and the Legion voted him in.

Karate Kid served with distinction for approximately six years. During that time, he pushed himself to constantly be better, dedicating himself to becoming the perfect living weapon. Part of his regular training routine was to spar with Superboy, for example. Once, when he thought he had only 12 hours to live, he hunted down the Fatal Five and tried to die in combat. It was this sense of discipline that his fellow members recognized when they voted him Legion Leader during Year 7.

It was eventually revealed that Karate Kid was a "half," the son of a Japanese crime-lord called the Black Dragon and an American named Valentina Armorr. While Val was still a baby, his mother was killed, and a sensei called Shiratsuru Toshiaki was forced to fight and kill his father. Shiratsuru then raised the orphaned child as his own. Years later, the Black Dragon's kohai, Sadaharu, tracked down Shiratsuru to exact revenge and pass on the crime empire to Karate Kid. Val stood with his sensei, of course.

During a mission to Orando, Karate Kid realized that Princess Projectra reciprocated his feelings for her, and they started dating. A love affair between a commoner and a princess was not easy, but their love was strong enough to keep them together. When Karate Kid formally requested permission from King Voxv to marry his daughter, the King ordered him to experience a rite of passage, or "tournament", to prove his worth to him. He banished Karate Kid to 20th Century Earth, but did not explain to his daughter why her boyfriend was leaving her. Their relationship was strained until the truth came out; then their love grew even stronger. At this time, he took an extended leave from the Legion to fulfill his obligation. (This is how Karate Kid became a comic book series, which lasted fifteen issues from 1976-1978.)

After a certain amount of time, Karate Kid returned permanently to his own time and together with Projectra, went to Orando to report to the King and to ask his permission to marry. Unfortunately, before they could receive his blessings, King Voxv died. After facing down a challenge to her rule, Projectra ascended to the throne as Queen. She offered Val one last chance to walk away, but he again vowed eternal love and devotion to her. After a suitable time of mourning, Karate Kid married Projectra in the grandest wedding Orando had ever seen.

Their happiness was short-lived, however. When they returned to Orando from their honeymoon, they were shocked to find that the Legion of Super-Villains had taken over. The Super-Villains had captured the entire planet, planning to warp it into another dimension so that they could control it forever. Although the Legion spoiled this plot, Karate Kid was killed in battle with Nemesis Kid. His pride would not allow him to step away from the fight, even after sustaining fatal injuries.

Karate Kid was cremated in a ceremonial funeral pyre on Orando as some of his Legion friends bore witness. Later, a cenotaph in his honor was erected on the cemetery planet, Valhalla.

Karate Kid was friendly with all the other Legionnaires, but was especially close to those members whose dedication was similar to his: Superboy, Mon-El, Cosmic Boy, Saturn Girl, and Invisible Kid. He was also close to Timber Wolf, the other "physical" Legionnaire, with whom he often trained.

After Val's death, Timber Wolf in fact learned he was heir to Karate Kid's estate. He and the Sensei traveled to the planet Lythyl to honor Val's last wishes, where they met a young martial artist, Myg, who would eventually come to Earth, enter the Legion Academy and become the second Karate Kid.

Karate Kid was one of the members of the SW6 Legionnaires who appeared some time after the Five Year Gap that followed the Magic Wars, but died along with the SW6 Projectra and Chameleon Boy during the war to free Earth of Dominion oppression.

After the Reboot, Karate Kid joined Leland McCauley's Workforce to have the opportunity to travel to different planets and learn new disciplines, but his conscience did not let him do so forever given McCauley's practices. Running from his former employer, he asked for the Legion's protection. McCauley renounced any claim against Val, and he became a Legionnaire.

After the Legion disbanded when some of their number were lost in a remote galaxy, Karate Kid chose to study the Haplashar pacifists on the planet Steeple. When this world was cut off from the rest of the galaxy for ten years because of black hole activity, he chose to stay behind to take care of a critically-injured Ferro. Eventually freed by Brainiac 5, he became one of the Legionnaires who helped turn the tide against Universo, who had taken over the Legion.

After the Threeboot, Karate Kid is Euramerican raised in Japan by martial arts masters, trained around the clock in martial arts from birth. The most disciplined Legionnaires, his love live is nevertheless chaotic. He has dated Shadow Lass, Phantom Girl and Light Lass, each relationships proving impossible to sustain.

After Infinite Crisis, Karate Kid's original history has more or less been re-established. Under unrevealed circumstances, the Legion participated in a successful ceremony to return him to life, the same way they had revived Lightning Lad years before. Part of a Legion party that traveled to the 21st century - during which time be briefly posed as the villain Trident - he and Una (the former Triplicate Girl) remained when others left. He appears to die there from the Morticoccus virus - though his body is later revealed to be a Time Trapper plant - the viral strain released from his 31st-century blood more resistant to treatment than ever. Having cheated death once again, somehow, Karate Kid once again counts among the Legionnaires.

Karate Kid was a member of The Legion of Super-Heroes in its animated series, voiced by Keith Ferguson. He also appeared in the direct-to-video animated film JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time, with a design that recalled Samurai's from Super-Friends, and with paranormal abilities, such as being able to perceive stress points, fracture planes, or weaknesses in objects as well a Ki-based attack. This version was voiced by Dante Basco. In addition, DC Comics granted Columbia Pictures permission to use the "Karate Kid" name for a series of successful movies, though there is no connection between these and the Legionnaire.

Important Karate Kid Stories: 

Adventure Comics #346
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 5)
Karate Kid makes his debut and joins the Legion
during the first Khund Invasion of Earth

Adventure Comics #347
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 5)
Karate Kid proves he is not the traitor

Adventure Comics #362
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 8)
Karate Kid admits his love for Princess Projectra

Adventure Comics #365-366
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 8)
Karate Kid battles the Fatal Five for the first time

Adventure Comics #367
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9)
 We meet Sensei, the man who raised Karate Kid

Adventure Comics #368
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9)
 Karate Kid spars with Superboy to keep in top physical shape

Adventure Comics #373
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9)
 Karate Kid takes the Tornado Twins' teasing personally

Adventure Comics #378
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9)
 Karate Kid thinks he only has 12 hours to live, 
so tries to capture the Fatal Five single-handedly

Action Comics #382
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9)
Karate Kid is the new Legion Leader

Superboy #183
(reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 10)
Karate Kid gets a temporary new uniform

Superboy #193
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 10)
Karate Kid gets another new uniform,
but returns to his original beige uniform soon after

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #206
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 11)
Projectra introduces Karate Kid to her parents as her boy-friend for the first time

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #209
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 11)
Karate Kid returns to his second uniform, 
and is willing to die to save Princess Projectra

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #210
 (reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 11)
The Secret Origin of Karate Kid

Karate Kid #1-15
The only Legionnaire to have his own ongoing series
besides Superboy and Supergirl

Karate Kid #10
Karate Kid is sent back to the 20th Century to prove his worth to Projectra's father

Karate Kid #10
Karate Kid swears his love for Princess Projectra

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #223
Karate Kid helps fight the Time Trapper

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #231
Karate Kid and Projectra fight the Fatal Five

Kamandi #58
Karate Kid gets mixed up with The Great Disaster

Superboy/Legion of Super-Heroes #245
Karate Kid helps defeat Mordru

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #279
Karate Kid & Projectra help defeat Grimbor

Brave and The Bold #198
Karate Kid temporarily returns to 20th Century Earth

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #286
Karate Kid vows to stand with Queen Projectra forever

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #288
Karate Kid becomes Queen Projectra's consort 
as she ascends the throne of Orando

Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #2 (1983)
Queen Projectra marries Karate Kid

Legion of Super-Heroes (v2) #309
Karate Kid and Projectra have to fight her cousin for the throne
again...during their honeymoon! 

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #1-5
 (reprinted in An Eye For An Eye TPB)
 The Rape of Orando by the Legion of Super-Villains

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #4
(reprinted in An Eye For An Eye TPB)
Karate Kid sacrifices himself to help save Orando

 Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #13
Timber Wolf executes Karate Kid's last will and testament

Secret Origins #47 
Additional detail on Karate Kid's pre-Legion days

Legion of Super-Heroes (v3) #31
An untold story of Karate Kid, Princess Projectra, and Ferro Lad

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #32
Last appearance of the SW6 Karate Kid; he would die in an explosion a few pages later

Legionnaires #21
Reboot Karate Kid's first appearance, as a member of Work Force

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #103
Karate Kid returns, fleeing his old employer and seeking the Legion's protection

Legionnaires #60
Karate Kid is inducted into the Legion

Legion of Super-Heroes (v4) #111
Karate Kid proves his mettle against M'On-El

Legion Worlds #5
Karate Kid stays on the planet Steeple with Ferro

Legion of Super-Heroes (v5) #6
Threeboot Karate Kid helps Ultra Boy fine-tune his powers

Legion of Super-Heroes (v5) #22
More of Ultra Boy's training with Karate Kid, and Val hooks up with Shadow Lass

Justice League of America (v2) #8
Retroboot Karate Kid fights Batman in the 21st century

Countdown #39
Karate Kid finds out he has a lethal virus

Countdown to Final Crisis #7-6
Karate Kid's apparent death releases the Morticoccus  

Legion of Super-Heroes (v7) #23
After the team is decimated by the Fatal Five, Karate Kid returns to Orando with Projectra;
he will be back with the team in Justice League United

Legion of Super-Heroes animated series
Karate Kid, voiced by Keith Ferguson

The Karate Kid movies
Ralph Macchio as The Karate Kid


  1. Just had a goofy thought: two lines stretching blocks from the old rocketship HQ: one for applicants, one for martial artists wanting to challenge Val.

  2. I want to see that as a poster!

  3. Karate kid has been kicked around enough for the past 30 years. I understand that the series sacrifices one of its greatest members in the context of the Legion's legacy and to demonstrate that is has incurred great losses like other historic organizations, but give Val Armorr and Projectra a measure of happiness and longevity like Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl, Mon-El and Shadow Lass, you get the idea. I would also like to see a few stories on the friendship between Karate Kid and Timber Wolf, maybe a mission the two of them embark on.

  4. Now that they're all alive, it could happen.

  5. I remember buying his first appearance in Adventure Comic's along with him being admitted along with Ferro Lad , Princess Projectra and Nemesis Kid.

    I remember hoping it was Jeckie who was the traitor but it turned out to be Nemesis Kid much to my disappointment.

    KK's superpower which wasn't a superpower made him unique .

    Val's death was a sad moment for all long time LSH fans who'd followed him since his origin .

    Oddly three of the four inducted that issue have been killed .

  6. Karate Kid: never a finer Leeroy Jenkins if there ever was one.