Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / Judomaster

Go To

Judomaster was a Charlton Comics character created by Joe Gill and Frank McLaughlin who was later bought by DC Comics, under whom he became a legacy character with three successors.

Sergeant Hadley "Rip" Jagger was introduced in an intended one-shot in 1965 where he ended up as the only American survivor on a small island currently being overtaken by the Japanese in the Pacific Theater of WWII. He was rescued by a group of guerrilla fighters trying to push the Japanese military from their home island, who took him to their hidden base and taught him martial arts. He is given his costume and hero name by their leader after he starts helping them fight against the Japanese and manages to prove unbelievably adept at Judo, somehow surpassing his instructor in his short time training. Rip was brought back with his own self-titled ten-issue series due to popular demand where he picked up the Japanese-American kid sidekick Tiger, who later underwent a Heel–Face Turn and fought against his former mentor and other former Charlton heroes, who had banded together as L.A.W.. Rip was said to have been a member of the All-Star Squadron during the war and was killed by Bane in the Battle for Metropolis during Infinite Crisis.


The second Judomaster was introduced nine years later in 1994, where he helped the Justice League and befriended Guy Gardner. He remained a mysterious figure, never being seen out of costume and never having his secret identity revealed to the reader. His costume also took little inspiration from Rip's bright yellow and red spandex number, basing it instead on a simple gi. He was followed by Rip's son Tommy in 2006. Tommy worked for the American government as an agent of Checkmate and was also known by the code name White Knight.

The Japanese woman Sonia Sato became the fourth individual to adopt the Judomaster name and costume. While Sato was the first woman to use the title in the main DCU, a woman greatly resembling her had previously been depicted as the Judomaster in the Kingdom Come Elseworlds tale. She chose to become a vigilante to fight her father's murderers and as recompense for her father's criminal activities. Sato was an ally of the Birds of Prey who later became a member of the JSA. In the New 52's Earth 2 reality, she is a high-ranking official in the World Army rather than a costumed hero or vigilante.


Judomaster made his live-action debut in the DC Extended Universe in James Gunn's Peacemaker portrayed by Nhut Le, on HBO Max.

    Judomaster I, Hadley "Rip" Jagger 
  • Badass Normal: No powers, just martial arts training.
  • Chest Insignia: His costume has the sun of the rising sun centered on his chest with the rays expanding out over his torso.
  • C-List Fodder: By the time of his death in Infinite Crisis. Partially helped by the fact that his ongoing series had been absolutely chock full of Values Dissonance even if his origin story had mostly avoided it.
  • Killed Off for Real: Bane killed Rip in the climax of Infinite Crisis by breaking his back as he did to Batman in Knightfall.
  • Military Superhero: Rip is a sergeant in the US Army, and also a special army operative under the Judomaster name.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: Jagger, after training in Nanda Parbat, can accomplish feats such as ripping through solid steel, phasing through restraints, and reviving Tiger after killing him.

Notable Appearances of Rip Jagger

Comic Books
  • Special War Series (1965)
  • Judomaster (1966 — 1967)
  • L.A.W. (1999 — 2000)

    Judomaster II 

    Judomaster III, Thomas "Tommy" Jagger 
  • Affirmative Action Legacy: The first and thus far only openly gay Judomaster.
  • Badass Normal: Like his father before him Tommy has no superpowers, just training, and backing from the US government. He was even able to defeat Bane, The Man Who Broke The Bat.
  • Heroic Lineage: His father was a superhero. While Thomas didn't become one he does follow his father's footsteps by serving the side of good.
  • Legacy Character: The third hero to use the Judomaster name.
  • Light Is Good: He is one of the more ethical members of Checkmate's White Side.
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: To the point that his mother is never named.
  • The Fettered: Despite having a chance to avenge his father's death at Bane's hands, Thomas chooses to spare the criminal's life.
  • You Killed My Father: His father was killed by Bane.

Notable Appearances of Tommy Jagger

Comic Books

    Judomaster IV, Sonia Sato 
  • Action Girl: Sonia is a highly-skilled martial artist.
  • Affirmative Action Legacy: The preceding Judomasters were all American men of European heritage while she's a Japanese woman.
  • Bullet Dodges You: Sonia can project an "aversion field" which prevents her from being hit by attacks specifically aimed at her. This does not include attacks that have no aim, such as random projectiles and explosions.
  • Cape Busters: In the New 52 universe, on Earth-2, she's part of the Wold Army, which is dedicated to protecting the earth from super-powered threats at all costs.
  • Chest Insignia: Her costume has the sun of the rising sun centered over her left breast with the rays expanding out over her body.
  • Depending on the Writer: Her personality and English proficiency are subject to change, as she'd originally been a capable English speaker who was rather witty, and was then portrayed as completely incapable of speaking English and cold and silent by later writers.
    • Judomaster — The fourth one could project an "aversion field" which prevented her from being hit by attacks specifically aimed at her, though not ones with wide effects like explosions. She was also a skilled martial artist just like her predecessors. * Inscrutable Oriental: Her first appearance in Justice Society of America is characterized by her being silent, cold, and reserved out of combat. Mind you, before then, she'd been portrayed as witty and perfectly capable of speaking English, but these things happen. Mind you, she did warm up a bit when she fell for Damage.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Weaponized. She projects a shield around her that throws her opponent's aim off. However, she can’t stop an attack that’s not focused directly on her.
  • Legacy Character: Sonia adopted the Judomaster identity to repent for her father’s past deeds and has since been on the run from the Blood Soldiers.
  • Logical Weakness: While Sonia can generate an aversion field, which makes it impossible to hit her, this means she's at a disadvantage against attacks not specifically directed at her, like an explosion, or a foe that can attack her from every angle, like the Justice Society villain Tapeworm.
  • Morality Chain: Damage's death sent her back to trying to kill her father's killer, but he had left her a message that managed to bring her back.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Her father Yoshio tried to leave his employment with the Yakuza only to be killed by his former employers for his attempt to defect.

Notable Appearances of Sonia Sato

Comic Books

Charlton Comics' Judomaster provides examples of:

  • Affirmative Action Legacy: Rip Jagger, a white man, was replaced with Sonia Sato, an Asian woman. There was a previous Asian Judomaster in the 90s. He appeared in one issue and was never seen again.
  • All Asians Wear Conical Straw Hats: One of these hats even provides the perfect disguise for a white blonde blue-eyed woman in Tokyo. It lets her pass as a Japanese man somehow.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Tiger, Judomaster's Japanese-American Kid Sidekick. He actually got the name due to Rip calling him "tiger" in the same way one might say "kid" or "sport" and his costume does not reflect the animal at all.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: It's almost always unclear what language is actually being spoken outside of interactions between members of the American military but the Mountain Storm seems to have trouble with English.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: Several of the dinos on can be sort of compared to actual dinosaurs even if they only look kinda inspired by them, but then there's the giant iguana. That is definitely just a giant iguana regardless of what any characters claim.
  • Asian Buck Teeth: Quite a few of the Japanese characters have buck teeth, including Tiger, although only in his first appearance.
  • Chickification: Suzikawa was an active and stoic member of the resistance fighters in the original comic, where she ended up getting shot and was back on her feet in short order. In the ongoing series, she's reduced to the love-struck love interest who stays cooped up in the resistance fighter's hidden base pining after Rip and only leaves it to join the adventure in the final issue where she is quickly captured and lets men and children do the fighting while she stays behind them for protection.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: The comic is so concerned with reminding the reader that Tiger is an orphan with no family to excuse his becoming a sidekick for Judomaster that he is never given a name. Literally every time he's asked his name he instead reiterates that he's an orphan with no parents, and then gets cut off before having a chance to actually answer the question.
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Implied by the island full of dinosaurs being called the island of dragons but the creatures therein are all treated as dinosaurs rather than dragons.
  • Dragon Lady: Tokyo Rose, the seductive English language Japanese propaganda broadcaster.
  • Dumb Muscle: Mountain Storm is treated this way by everyone, and while he is definitely the muscle in his every appearance, he seems no more or less intelligent than anyone else in the story. Save maybe Bushuri, but he cheats by being the only regularly practical character in the book.
  • Fad Super: A twofer, cashing in on the late '60s Japanophilia and the popularity of World War II stories.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Rip basically lunges right into the world's most obvious pit trap while looking for Tiger when the kid goes missing.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: Judomaster and Tiger sneak around in a bright yellow and red costume and a blinding white with red accents costume respectively. Which somehow works, they're even called ninjas by their opponents.
  • Idiot Ball: While the idiot ball is a popular accessory in this series Rip's Judomaster costume nearly seems a visual representation of one as he seems far more competent and sane as Rip, probably due to acting like an Army Sergeant rather than a martial artist superhero who needs to solve everything with martial arts.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: Judomaster's sidekick Tiger was a Japanese American boy a bit too young to actually join the military, so he stowed away on Rip's plane to help America fight Imperial Japan as a costumed special operative instead.
  • Kid Sidekick: Tiger, who was a Japanese-American boy that tagged along with the unaware Rip from the Heart Mountain War Relocation Center, the Japanese incarceration camp in Wyoming.
  • Mighty Whitey: Who knew, for someone to truly exemplify the Japanese code of honor and show them how to really use their martial arts, just teach some blonde white guy about it for a couple of months.
  • Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow: Rip and Suzi, who went from a stoic active member of the resistance in the original comic to the teary-eyed completely enamored non-action love interest in the series.
  • Military Superhero: Rip is a Sergeant in the US Army, and also a special operative under the Judomaster name.
  • Non-Powered Costumed Hero: Judomaster, who uses his mastery of judo to combat crime.
  • No Swastikas: Averted. Not only is Rip running around wearing a slightly recolored rising sun, the Nazi villain Smiling Skull wears a swastika.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Tiger. Rip called him "tiger" in their first meeting and then slowly seemed to forget that it wasn't the kid's actual name, going so far as to call him the shortened "Tig" when he wanted to call him something other than Tiger out of costume.
  • Ptero Soarer: They call it a flying reptile and make it look like a bizarre long-necked scaled dragon, but claim it's something from the dinosaur age that's miraculously survived to the era.
  • Pit Trap: Rip falls into one while looking for Tiger, even though their original plan had called for one of them staying behind as Tiger is doing. Later he and Tiger are tossed back into it together after Tiger has to try and save him and a real tiger is released in with them.
  • Retroactive Legacy: Years after DC gained the characters Judomaster and Tiger thanks to a buy-out of Charlton Comics, the two were retconned into being members of the All-Star Squadron, despite never actually appearing in that series.
  • Superhero Sobriquets: Judomaster is "The Crimson Crusher", or "The Scarlet Smasher".
  • Token Enemy Minority: Tiger, being Japanese during World War II — his character was first published in the '60s.
  • Trapped Behind Enemy Lines: Judomaster mostly works behind enemy lines and he has some trouble getting back out on at least one occasion and brings up the potential complications a few times.
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Rip wears the rising sun emblem of Imperial Japan (his enemies) proudly across his entire torso, which might explain why it was so easy to convince people he'd switched sides. Tiger just straight up wears a Japanese flag motif (again, the county of Japan is his enemy, and he's fighting them because he is American and proud of it).
  • White Man's Burden: Despite initial reluctance Rip takes in the Japanese-American orphan from the incarceration camp who he showed what an honorable fighter really looks like, though he can't seem to be bothered to ask his new ward his name.
  • World War II: The setting is WWII's Pacific Theater, except for the two issues in America one of which was at an incarceration camp and the other of which was as Rip's old college.
  • Yellow Peril: Most of the villains play on this, but "Japanese Sandman" really plays it straight with his Fu Manchu facial hair and long nails.