This ‘a brief history of..’ series will act as your caped crusaders guide to the world of comic characters. Giving everyone a chance to learn more about the world of comics.
So I guess everyone has heard of the Karate Kid films series? The films which follow the exploits of Daniel-san the inept student of the karate martial art. What if I told you that the Karate Kid also referred to a superhero which had a different origin story to the one on the big screen?
The start of this little mystery begins strangely in the future. DC’s continuity spans to the future, specifically the 31st century and involves the childhood adventures of a red caped hero. Back when Clark Kent was teenager and was just getting hold of his amazing powers he found himself isolated in fear his powers could easily hurt those around him. Suddenly he’s approached by three superheroes from the future, Cosmic boy the master of magnetism, Lighting lad an ecstatic electric manipulator, Saturn girl, a superb user of telepathy.
In the distant future Superman is an incredible role model for the known galaxy which helped to promote a era of peace among planets and inspired the creation of the super hero team the Legion of Superheroes. Clark persuades the group to take him to the future and give him a place to hone the use of his powers and feel like he was somewhere he belonged.
As Super-boy Kent interacted with other appropriately named superheroes like Sun boy and Matter Eater Lad. Which now leads us to where the Karate kid comes in.
Val Armor was the son of a secret agent and a crime lord the Black Dragon. His mother tried to hide him from his father but failed and was killed in the process. Black Dragon’s nemesis, the White Crane, a hero of Japan killed him and adopted Val.
Val was trained in a wide range of martial arts. One was ‘super karate’ which allowed to him to hold his own against the likes of Super boy and combat with powered opponents and gave him the characteristics of super strength.
Val went on to become the youngest samurai in history and work for his local Shogun. After almost causing and preventing the death of an important dignitary his found he couldn’t impress his superiors and left to find another challenge. This challenge came in form of the assisting the Legion of Super-heroes after a galaxy wide search for a new master. When the team came up against a powerful villain known as the Sun Eater the Karate Kid’s assistance proved invaluable. After applying officially he impressed Superboy who vouched for his membership.
Val is the only un-powered member of the Legion of Superheroes and proves in the short lived cartoon that powers aren’t everything. The Karate Kid has died after suffering fatal wounds from an out of control computer system called Brother Eye.
On the plus side the Karate Kid is one of the few legionnaires to get his own solo series and at the end of the Karate Kid film the studio thanks DC for giving them permission to borrow the name.