Karate Kid (Val Armorr) is a fictional character, a superhero in the future of the DC Comics universe, and a member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. He is a master of every form of martial arts to have been developed by the 31st Century. The extent of his skill is so great that he can 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 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' hand, he took a leave of absence and spent about a year in the primitive 20th century. During his visit there, Karate Kid was featured in an eponymous, short-lived comic book series. He returned to find Projectra's father dead. With Val's and the other Legionnaires' help, she won the throne from her cousin Pharoxx. Val officially became Projectra's consort soon afterward and resigned from the Legion.
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.
Myg of Lythyl, one of that planet's Three Judges, later applied for Legion membership and dedicated himself to carrying on the name of "Karate Kid." Like his predecessor, he possessed superior martial arts skills. He became a member of the second Legion of Substitute Heroes while training in the Legion Academy.
During the "Five Years Later" storyline following the Magic Wars, Earth fell under the covert control of the Dominators, and withdrew from the United Planets. A few years later, the members of the Dominators' highly classified "Batch SW6" escaped captivity. Originally, Batch SW6 appeared to be a group of teenange Legionnaire clones, created from samples apparently taken just prior to Ferro Lad's death at the hands of the Sun-Eater. Later, they were revealed to be time-paradox duplicates, every bit as legitimate as their older counterparts. However, this version of Val Armorr was killed in battle (along with SW6's Princess Projectra and Chameleon Boy) fighting Dominion troops.
In his 2007 return in Justice League of America, Starman (Starboy) refers to Val having previously died without elaborating on how he returned from death.
Karate Kid and Starman are two of seven Legionnaires currently in the present. However, this Karate Kid bears little resemblance to the one currently featured in the 2005 reboot, in both physical features and costume, instead closely resembling the pre-Crisis version of the character. Starman (the adult Starboy) mentions that Val once died, which is consistent with the character's pre-Crisis history.
When being interrogated by Batman, Karate Kid, still disoriented, identifies himself as "Wes Holloway, a member of the Trident Guild." The name is a direct allusion to the protagonist of Brad Meltzer's latest novel, The Book of Fate. He is teased within the narrative of Countdown about his heroic identity being inspired by the Karate Kid film.
When other Legionnaires, except for Starman, return to their own time, Val remains behind in the 21st Century. In Countdown #38, he and Triplicate Girl, now known as "Una," visit Barbara Gordon, where it 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's 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.
Karate Kid's training included mental discipline which makes him more resistant to mind control.