Monday, July 30, 2018

The Other Karate Kid!


I guess folks these days think of a certain trilogy of movies from the 80's when the name Karate Kid is brought up. I don't. Being a child of the 60's and 70's I first think of the 30th Century warrior Val Armorr, better known to his Legion of Superhero allies as Karate Kid.


Jim Shooter is given credit for creating Karate Kid, as one more of many interstellar heroes who were part of the futuristic Legion of Super-Heroes. He debuted in Adventure Comics #347 and 348 in a two-part tale. He went on to become a stalwart of the team, getting a costume revamp by Dave Cockrum (as did most of the Legion) when the series was revived in the early 70's.


So when the Kung Fu craze swept across the United States, it was natural that Karate Kid, DC's already custom-built martial arts hero would be a feature. But it didn't happen, that is it didn't happen for many years, after the craze had begun to fizzle out that Karate Kid left the future for the then modern DCU and became a solo star. The book was above average, but like most DC product at the time, I liked it but most other folks apparently did not. Eventually the titled was cancelled and Val Armorr went back to the future to take up his place in the Legion once again. But it was fun while it lasted.

Here are the covers of the Kid's run.
















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4 comments:

  1. I too have the exact same reaction, Rip, liked Val a lot ( though Saturn Girl, Wildfire & Dawnstar were always my favourite Legionnaires ). Did you know Keith Giffen hated Karate Kid? There's an interview in seminal fanzine The Legion Outpost where he can't explain why, but just hated the character on site.

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    1. I was unaware of Giffen's antipathy. The charm of those earliest Legion stories is the utter weirdness of the membership who have all sorts of zany powers. Karate Kid seemed oddly grounded within that frame.

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  2. I know I bought the first issue, but felt it was pretty bland fare, as were most of the kung fu comics that came and went. I wonder why they felt they had to conform to the extent of bringing him into the present; a future day science fiction milieu would've been visually unique among martial arts comics, and he could've been pitted against some wild opponents in gladiatorial and just plain old alien settings.

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    1. I don't disagree. But I suspect the creators were mostly concerned to bring him into a world in which the Legion was not a factor and develop him in a way which was the cliche for martial arts heroes. DC was rather prone to do the obvious thing during this era.

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