Karate Kid is actually Val Armorr, a super-hero from the future and also a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. He is a master of every form of martial arts to have been developed by the 30th Century. The extent of his skill was so great that he could 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".
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 biggest 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 were searching for new recruits to help fend off a creature of incredible power called a Sun Eater. 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. 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's hand, he took a leave of absence and spent about a year in the primitive 20th century. During his visit there, the Karate Kid lived in New York City and befriended a super-powerd being known as Diamondeth. He found himself facing such notable adversaries as Commander Blud, Major Disaster, Pulsar and the Lord of Time. He returned to the 30th century to find Projectra's father dead. With Val's and the other Legionnaires' help, she won the throne from over cousin Pharoxx. Val officially became Projectra's consort soon afterward and resigned from the Legion.
An Eye for an Eye
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.
Legion of Super-Heroes continuity note: The original Legion's continuity ended during Zero Hour in 1994 when they were replaced by the Reboot Legion. Following Infinite Crisis in 2006, they return to regular continuity as part of a divergent timeline and are said to have disappeared after the Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1986. In the Lightning Saga they reappear and meet Superman as adults.
The Lightning Saga
At some point prior to his death, the Karate Kid was sent backwards in time to the early 21st century. Justice League member Black Lightning discovered Val's unconscious form wearing a Trident costume. He brought him to the Batcave where Batman used his hi-tech computer systems to confirm Val's identity. Val however, had lost his true memory and claimed that his name was Wes Holloway – a member of the Trident Guild. The Karate Kid lived up to his name as he fought Batman to a standstill in hand-to-hand combat before Batman out-thought him and Black Lightning knocked him out. . Unsure of what to do with him, Batman and Black Lightning brought him to the Justice League Satellite where Val was contained within one of their prisoner cells. League member Red Arrow poked fun at him, comparing him to the title character from the 1985 film The Karate Kid. Val's comrades in the Legion of Super-Heroes arrived in the 21st century and reunited with Val. They aided the League as well as the Justice Society of America in defeating a rogue computer system known as Computo. At the close of this "Lightning Saga", the Legion of Super-Heroes returned to their normal timeline, but Val was left behind.
A short time later, another Legion member, Triplicate Girl (now calling herself Una) arrived in the 21st century and reunited with the Karate Kid. They discovered that the Karate Kid was dying from an unidentified terminal illness and sought to cure him. Their quest to find a cure brought them to visit Barbara Gordon, where it is 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 was 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. 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
- Martial Arts: Karate Kid is a master of every known martial art in the 31st century and knows how to use them combined with the use of his Legion Flight Ring.
- Karate: He is classified as a Class 15 fighter (Batman is only Class 12, though this rating was by Superman, who Batman loved to prove wrong, which Batman technically didn't do).
- Hand-to-Hand Combat (Advanced): Val Armorr is an expert in hand-to-hand combat, having mastered nearly every martial arts technique available in the 30th century.
- Weaponry: Val's martial arts ability includes proficiency with assorted melee weapons such as swords and knives, though Val almost never uses such items for combat.
- It is not known exactly how Karate Kid returned from his first death. In The Lightning Saga, Starman tells him "You died too and came back. We cheered three times that day."
- Karate Kid stood as the Legion's calm, spiritual center. He has helped other Legionaries master their natural abilities.
- Karate Kid trained Superman back when they were kids, in armed and unarmed combat and even trained his wife Sensor Girl.
- Karate Kid fought Batman to a draw, but was knocked unconscious by Black Lightning before their fight was completed.
- 189 Appearances of Val Armorr (Pre-Zero Hour)
- 14 Images featuring Val Armorr (Pre-Zero Hour)
- 15 Quotations by or about Val Armorr (Pre-Zero Hour)
- Character Gallery: Val Armorr (Pre-Zero Hour)
- 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
- Karate Kid #1
- Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 4) #4
- Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 4) #5
- Justice League of America (Volume 2) #10
- Countdown to Final Crisis #7
- Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 3) #4
- Justice League of America (Volume 2) #8
- Who's Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes #3
- Adventure Comics #368
- Superman #699
- Who's Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes #6
- Countdown #50
- Justice League of America (Volume 2) #8
Legion of Super-Heroes member
|Justice League member|
This character is or was a member of the Justice League of America, or the Justice League in any of its various incarnations, sworn by a duty to act as guardians of America and the world by using their skills and/or superpowers to protect Earth from both interstellar and domestic threats.
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