Karate Kid I

Val Armorr

Created by Jim Shooter and Curt Swan

NAME + ALIASES:
Val Armorr of Earth

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Kirau Nezumi (aka Black Dragon, father, deceased), Valentina Armorr (mother, deceased), Projectra (wife)

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Legion of Super-Heroes (Earth-0)

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Adventure Comics #346 (July 1966)

DEATHS: Legion of Super-Heroes v.3 #4 (Nov. 1984), Countdown to Final Crisis #7 (May 2008)

Karate Kid III

NAME + ALIASES:
Val Armorr of Omega Colony

KNOWN RELATIVES:
Known relatives: None.

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Legion of Super-Heroes (Earth-247)

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Legion of Super Heores v.4 #64 (October 1994)
Joined: Legionnaires #60 (May 1998)

Karate Kid IV

NAME + ALIASES:
Val Armorr of Earth

KNOWN RELATIVES:
None

GROUP AFFILIATIONS:
Legion of Super-Heroes (Earth Prime)

FIRST APPEARANCE:
Teen Titans/Legion Special (2004)

History

Karate Kid impresses the Boy of Steel. From Adventure #346 (1966). Art by Sheldon Moldoff.

Val Armorr is 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 failed and was killed for her affront. Japan's biggest hero, Sensei Toshiaki 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 went to work for his local shogun. But after trying his best and failing to please his supervisor, he quit and searched the galaxy for new forms of battle to master. (Superboy v.1 #210, Secret Origins #47)

When he returned to Earth, he found that the Legion of Super-Heroes was searching for new recruits to help fend off an impending Khund invasion. He applied, and, although he had no superhuman powers, was accepted after demonstrating his prowess against Superman himself. (Adventure #346) His Legion career almost ended ignominiously when fellow recruit Nemesis Kid framed him for betraying Earth to the Khunds. Nemesis Kid's treachery was discovered in time, and Val went on to become one of the greatest Legionnaires ever. (#347) As Karate Kid, Val took on the entire Fatal Five single-handedly (#378) and was elected Legion leader for one term. (Action #382)

First kiss. From Adventure #362 (1967).
Art by Pete Costanza.

A rare illustration hinting at Val's half-Japanese heritage.
From Superboy #210 (1975). Art by Mike Grell.

Till death … and resurrection do they part.
From Legion v.2 Annual #2 (1983). Art by Dave Gibbons.

Val fell in love with with his fellow Legion recruit, Princess Projectra, who joined the Legion on the same day. After a visit to Projectra's home on Orando, Val set out on a quest to win the princess' hand in marriage. He took a leave of absence and spent nearly a year proving his worth to her father, King Voxv. (Superboy v.1 #206, Karate Kid #1) When he returned, he put delivered the ultimate proof of his worth by saving the King himself from the new Black Dragon, Sadaharu. (Karate Kid #10)

After this, Val and Projectra were effectively engaged, but did not get around to planning their wedding for some time. They took a leave of absence in order to return to Orando (Legion v.2 #284), but upon their arrival, King Voxv died of a heart attack (#285) and Projectra's cousin, Pharoxx, took the throne. (#286) With the help of the Legion, they overthrew Pharoxx and Projectra's was made queen. Val and Projectra officially became Legion reservists. (#288) Val officially proposed (#296) and the couple were married on Orando in a surprisingly uninterrupted ceremony. (Legion v.2 Annual #2)

Their bliss would 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. (Legion v.3 #2) He, Projectra, and several other Legionnaires were captured by the villains, and when they broke out to fight the villains, he took on their leader, Nemesis Kid. Nemesis Kid beat Val almost to death. Val chose to go down fighting -— the ultimate honor by his cultural standards. Despite Projectra's please, Val used his last ounce of strength to destroy the villains' power source, and died. (#4) Projectra killed Nemesis Kid in revenge soon afterward. (#5) A memorial to Val was built on Shanghalla.

After his death, Timber Wolf learned that he was the heir to Karate Kid's estate. (#9) He and the Sensei traveled to the planet Lythyl to honor Val's last wishes. There they met the young martial artist, Myg, (#10, 13, 15) who eventually came to Earth, entered the Legion Academy and became Karate Kid II. (Legion v.3 Annual #3)

After the first great "Crisis," Val's teammates — under unrevealed circumstances — chose to attempt to resurrect Val. The three Legion founders were instrumental in arranging for the same ceremony that had revived Lightning Lad years before. (Adventure #312)

They were successful, and in a bizarre twist of fate, Val joined six other Legionnaires to travel back to the 21st century to perform the very same ritual to save someone else. (Justice League of America v.2 #3) Indeed the killing lightning chose Val's lightning rod and the hero would have died again if not for his quick reflexes. He dodged the lightning and cheated death again. After this mission, however, he was ordered to remain in the 21st century and undertake a new mission, aided by his teammate, Una. (#10)

NOTES: Karate Kid's real name was first revealed in Adventure #359 (1967). The Sensei first appeared in Adventure #367 (1968). The Black Dragon amd Valentina Armorr were first mentioned in Superboy #210 (1975).

Jim Shooter on Karate Kid: Definitely scrutable. Blunt. Forward, open, sometimes rash, impulsive, hot-headed. He is exactly as he seems. Courageous, loyal, and bright, believe it or not. He can lead, but mostly prefers to be alone or operate with relative autonomy. He'll work with a group, but prefers many options to many orders. He can think deep, but doesn't want to—he is, in many ways, an artist! —Interlac (1976)

Tom & Mary Bierbaum on Karate Kid: Here's a guy who's mentally disciplined himself to such a degree that he can give Superboy a run for his money. The problem is, Karate Kid has trouble dealing with teammates who have so much more to work with and expect so much less of themselves. Well-matched with Princess Projectra, who also has occasional trouble regarding her teammates as worthy equals. —Interlac (2000)

In the Legion character index in the magazine Amazing Heroes (#46, Sept. 1984), Val is twice referred to as "Karate King." It states "He left the Legion and changed his name from karate Kid when he married Queen Projectra." Paul Levitz contributed to this article. This codename was never used in-comic, though, although Projectra was listed as "Queen Projectra" in the Best of DC Digest #24 (which featured new Legion costumes by George Pérez).

Legion 1.5 (v.4)

In the history that unfolded after the first Crisis (no longer valid), there was another Karate Kid introduced as a member of the so-called SW6 Legionnaires. He was killed in the explosion of the Dominion underground chambers during the effort to rescue the resistance troops, together with the SW6 Princess Projectra and Chameleon Boy. He never traveled to the twentieth century or married Projectra, and he didn't fight the Fatal Five singlehandedly -- although he certainly would have if he had had the opportunity.

Legion 2: Earth-247

The Karate Kid of Universe-247, which was destroyed in the Infinite Crisis, is still active with that group…

Val Armorr is one of the greatest martial arts of the thirtieth century, and has dedicated his life to mastering as many different forms of fighting as he can. To this end, he joined Leland McCauley's Workforce as Karate Kid to have the opportunity to travel to different planets and learn new disciplines, despite the knowledge that McCauley's values were far different from his own. He was able to live with those differences until McCauley attempted to profit from an anomaly in space which, to Val, represented something purely beautiful, like divine creation. Unable to reconcile his employment with his conscience any longer, he destroyed McCauley's anomaly-tapping machine and fled, and McCauley's men chased him, almost killing him. He asked for the Legion's protection, and they provided it, and, in a deal they worked out with McCauley, McCauley renounced any claim against Val, and Karate Kid became a Legionnaire.

After the Legion disbanded, Val chose to study the Haplashar pacifists on the planet Steeple. What he did not foresee, however, was that this world would be cut off from the rest of the galaxy for ten years because of black hole activity. As they were preparing to leave, Steeple came under attack by Nadir. Ferro took a critical blow from Nadir and Val was forced to choose to stay on Steeple to tend to Ferro's health. They missed the window and were stranded on Steeple. (Legion Worlds #5)

When Brainiac 5 finally found a moment, he set about trying to establish a stargate to retrieve Val and Ferro from Steeple. (#19) This plan succeeded and they were rescued by Shikari and Sensor amidst the Legion's battle with Universo, and helped turn the tide. (#22) Afterwards, Val escorted Universo to Steeple, where the Halpashar agreed to watch over the villain (now forced into a sort of "mental coma"). (#23)

NOTES: Karate Kid has counterparts on Earth-0 and Earth-Prime. That of Earth-0 is deceased.

Legion 3: Earth-Prime

Requires editing...

Karate Kid. Euramerican but raised in Japan. Trained around the clock in martial arts from birth.

Val Armorr was raised in Japan by teachers who trained him around the clock in every form of martial arts. Val never really knew his parents. He is the most disciplined Legionnaire. He is friends with Shadow Lass and has been training Ultra Boy. He has a secret crush on Phantom Girl.

Karate Kid is a student of Earth's ancient Easter philosophies. He has described himself as "Euramerican," but was raised in Japan. He trained nearly around the clock in martial arts from birth.

Was dating Phantom Girl for a time until it became obvious that she has difficulty sustaining relationships in either of her two dimensions.

Shadow Lass encourages Ultra Boy to train with Karate Kid. (#6)

Shadow Lass and Karate Kid find they are incompatible and split up. (#22)

Shadow Lass asks for Karate Kid's help rid Ultra Boy's of his jealousy of Supergirl. In a faux mission, Val pairs Jo with Supergirl on a red sun world, and he has to send her back. The ploy gives Jo confidence. (#22)

Karate Kid injures himself saving Triplicate Girl from aliens. (#37)

Light Lass hits on Karate Kid. (#39)

On Velmar V, the Ikonns (Ikilles, Cazhmir) overtake the planet's rulers, the Peril Men. When the S.P.s intervene, the Young Heroes are captured and the Legion attempts a rescue. While there, Karate Kid and Triplicate Girl are recruited for a strange mission by visitors out-of-time. The Rimbor team is attacked by S.P.s. (#43)

Karate Kid left a sign reading "OKKK." They receive a distress call from President Kin'thea Kieselbach. (#44)

 

Other Versions

Karate Kid was also a member in TV's Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon.

+ Powers

Karate Kid is expert in many forms of martial arts. By applying simple physics, he has been known to best even M'Onel.

Appearances + References

» FEATURED APPEARANCES:  

  • ...

» SERIES:

  • Karate Kid, 15 issues (1976–78)