Cobra Kai’s YouTube/Netflix series has rekindled the love for the 1980s Karate Kid franchise. However, Daniel LaRusso was not the first Karate Kid; that distinction belongs to an obscure DC character from the Silver Age.
WHO IS THE KARATE KID?
Close to 20 years before Mister Miyagi taught audiences how to paint a fence and wax a car, Val Armorr suited up for the Legion of Superheroes. He is the son of a Japanese crime lord and an American secret agent. The youngest samurai in history, Val is the master of every martial art all the way into the 31st century.
KARATE KID’S KICKIN’ KEYS
There are not many keys for Val, but that could be good for you and your wallet. Even better, those few, minor keys are all fairly cheap to own, even in higher grades.
There is more to this issue than just a minor first appearance. It is a piece of comic history as legendary writer and editor Jim Shooter had his first published tale, “One of Us Is a Traitor,” printed in this issue. Impressively, Shooter was only 14 years old when he penned that script.
On the collecting side of things, the Karate Kid debuted in Adventure Comics #346. Since this is not a major key, the prices are affordable. This 1966 issue can be yours to own for less than $300 all the way up to an 8.5.
Ten years after the Karate Kid made his first appearance, he was given his own self-titled series. While it did not set the comic world on fire, it is a bit of nostalgia that reflects the martial arts craze of the 1970s. Need The Karate Kid #1 for your collection? The 9.8 will cost you around $300 while a 9.6 falls to less than $100.
Key Collector Comics credits the second-to-last issue of the original Kamandi run as scarce, which makes it that much more collectible. It featured the first meeting between Kamandi and the Karate Kid, which is not necessarily a major selling point. There has not been a 9.8 sold since 2017 when a copy brought $46. The most recent sale of Kamandi the Last Boy on Earth #58 was for an 8.5 in 2019, and it earned a measly $9.
On a side note, I see a possibility for Kamandi to be part of DCEU. With The Eternals on the horizon for the MCU and New Gods in development, those Jack Kirby-sans-Stan-Lee creations are hot. With all the other DC projects happening at HBO Max, the story of a boy surviving in a post-apocalyptic world filled with anthropomorphic animals could fit right in.
A HUGE UPSIDE?
These are sure to be worth thousands in the future, right? That is about as likely as disco making a comeback. Still, these comics are unique and nostalgic, and for those reasons, they are worth collecting simply for the joy of comics.
There is an off chance that he could find his way into the DCEU, especially if DC decides to duplicate the success of Marvel’s Shang-Chi. He’s just quirky enough to potentially land in, say, Doom Patrol, so there is a slim chance he could spring up in a movie or streaming series.