|First appearance||Wonder Woman #237 (November 1977)|
|Created by||Gerry Conway|
|Alter ego||Thomas Morita|
|Notable aliases||Assassin of a Thousand Claws|
|Abilities||Ability to transform into animals|
Fictional character biography
The early life of Thomas Morita was fraught with difficulty. His parents immigrated to the United States from Japan before the Great Depression. During the Depression, his father was unable to find work and eventually died. His mother died soon afterward, leaving only Thomas and his sister, Nancy. Morita traveled to his parents' homeland to train as a samurai and learning of the Japanese-American internment only further fueled his hatred of America. At some point during his training, he underwent some unexplained mystical process that imbued him with the power to transform into animals.
On March 4, 1942, Kung is hired by the mysterious Prince Daka to team up with Tsunami, Samurai, and Sumo, to infiltrate the All-Star Squadron's headquarters and steal Starman's gravity rod. This theft is thwarted by the Guardian and Kung escapes with Prince Daka. (All-Star Squadron #42-43 [February–March 1985])
In 1943, Kung is assigned to kill General Douglas MacArthur in Washington, D.C. Wonder Woman foils the assassination attempt, but Kung escapes to his sister's home in New York's Chinatown. Kung tries again to assassinate MacArthur at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, but is himself apparently killed while saving his sister from the weight of a teetering battleship whose drydock supports had been washed away. (Wonder Woman #237-238 [November–December 1977])
Sometime prior to his death, Kung is brought aboard the Monitor's satellite by Harbinger as part of a combined effort to save the remaining Earths from the Anti-Monitor. (Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 [August 1985]) He is later recruited by Brainiac as part of his massive supervillain army to conquer those remaining Earths. (Crisis on Infinite Earths #9 [December 1985]).
After the effects of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Kung's history was incorporated into the combined Earth that was formed, with some details having changed. Chief among those changes were that the Wonder Woman that Kung fought during World War II was now a time-tossed Hippolyta and not Diana.
It is assumed that he survived his supposed death while saving his sister, because his true death was revealed in Justice Society of America #27 and 28 (July and August 2009). It was revealed that he had made a deal with the U.S. Army in 1945 to convince Hirohito, Emperor of Japan, to surrender. However, the deadline for the surrender ran out and Hiroshima was bombed. Kung was onsite and died in the explosion. His spirit returned to plague the modern day Justice Society of America in these issues.
A chronologically younger Kung is seen in DC's Guns of the Dragon miniseries, taking place in 1927.
A second unidentified Kung (be it a descendant or an unrelated person) debuted in Wonder Woman Annual #1 (2007) as a previously unrevealed foe of Wonder Woman.
Powers and abilities
Kung had the ability to transform himself into animal forms through concentration. Among the animals he transformed into were a man-sized insect, a tiger, and a rhinoceros. Kung was able to retain his human intelligence when transformed but reverted to his human form if he somehow lost his concentration. As a samurai, he was also a master of several Japanese martial arts.
- Wonder Woman #237-238 (November–December 1977)
- All-Star Squadron #8 (April 1982), #42-43 (February–March 1985)
- Crisis on Infinite Earths #5 (August 1985), #9 (December 1985)
- Who's Who Vol. 1 #13 (March 1986)
- Wonder Woman Annual #1 (2007)
- Justice Society of America #27-28 (July–August 2009)