|“||In the beginning, I didn't understand why you brought them together. But now, I've seen the light. I believe in the Injustice Society of America. More than any of the others.||”|
Shiro Ito is hooded doctor and a controversial scientist who has been experimenting on himself and his victims since the 1900s. He was thought to have been executed in 1947 after his science was responsible for mass plagues and deaths, though he somehow survived due to his experimentation on his body. Dr. Ito has also altered his DNA to become a human-reptile hybrid. He also operates under the mysterious alias, Dragon King.
In the modern-day, Shiro becomes an ally to the Injustice Society of America to accomplish their mutual goal of Project New America. He is also the father of high school mean girl Cindy Burman. Cindy's extensive experiments at the hands of Shiro creates friction between them. His involvement with the ISA and recklessness with his daughter eventually leads to his death at the hands of Cindy.
Born in Japan in 1901, Shiro Ito was a controversial scientist and member of the Japanese military, serving during the 1930s and 1940s. He created numerous conventional and biological weapons, perhaps the most prominent being the bacilli bombs, which spread destructive plagues throughout China in 1932 and 1933. He was eventually arrested and, after being tried and convicted of war crimes, executed on March 13, 1947. Dr. Ito somehow survived due to the experiments he had conducted on himself. He assumed the alter-ego "Dragon King" and gained a reptilitan appearance.
In the 1990s, he crossed paths with the Seven Soldiers of Victory, a group of young, scrappy superheroes that didn't catch much attention from the media. Dragon King had built a living weapon to eradicate New York but was stopped by the Seven Soldiers before he could succeed. This event didn't catch the media's attention and therefore, Dragon King being alive was not reported to the Justice Society of America. The Shining Knight, the leader of the Seven Soldiers of Victory sought to destroy Dragon King and attacked by himself. Armed with just his horse and sword, Justin was no match for Dragon King and his minions. Dr. Ito captured Justin and stripped him of his memory and identity, forcing him into a life of meaningless tasks as a janitor at Blue Valley High School.
At some point, Dr. Ito crossed paths with the Injustice Society and worked alongside them on numerous occasions. He had a daughter with Suzanne Ito named Cindy Burman, but the women fled from Ito to avoid the tyrannical experiments he sought to perform on Cindy. They fled to California where they thought they were safe, until Ito snuck into Cindy's bedroom late one night and abducted her. Soon after, he began his experiments on her and implanted shiv's in her wrists that allowed her to cause great physical damage to those around her. Cindy lost control of her powers and killed her mother Suzanne. Ito viewed Cindy as his greatest creation and continued to work on her enhancements daily. When she would become unruly he would put her a cell that doubled as a gas chamber, putting her to sleep so as not to deal with her emotional outbursts. Ito sought a mother-figure and caregiver for Cindy, but the first replacement for Suzanne didn't work out. He then abducted Bobbie Burman from her fun-loving life and brainwashed her into being Cindy's caregiver. In public, Bobbie doubled as Cindy's stepmother.
In the underground ISA headquarters, Jordan Mahkent encounters Dr. Ito as he self-monologues, remarking how he was the one who believed in the ISA the most. Jordan makes chit chat - Dr. Ito says he's been busy working on his daughter. Jordan says he's accelerating Project: New America and needs him to build his machine. Dr. Ito agrees, relishing that it's finally time and that this generation's ultimate sacrifice will protect the next. He adds that he won't fail him like The Wizard or betray him like The Shade did, saying Wizard was quite vile. He asks if he can have Wizard's body. Unsettled, Jordan tentatively says yes.
Dr. Ito catches his daughter spying on the Injustice Society of America's meeting, and yanks her back to his lair. He scolds her for eavesdropping and denies her request to have a seat at the ISA table. He remarks that if she is bored she should throw a party or buy new clothes, he doesn't care. Cindy makes it clear that she is bored with teen life, and to prove her point and skills, she produces a blade from her wrist and nonchalantly kills one of her father's carefully cultivated assistants. He scolds her for this saying it takes weeks to condition them. He notes that Cindy has learned “nothing” from her mother’s death, brushing off her claims that it was an accident and she was young. Dr. Ito reminds her that he gave her powers to protect herself, not to “enhance her tantrums”. When Cindy takes a liking to the suit on display, he demands that she leave it be but she ignores him and takes the scepter instead. He forcibly yanks it from her hands and commands that she stays focused on Henry. Cindy wants to break up with him but he commands that she stay focused on Henry, whom she apparently was tasked with monitoring, in case he exhibits the same powers as his father, Brainwave. If Brainwave doesn't wake up they will have to use Henry's abilities to drive the machine Dr. Ito is building. Throughout the discussion, he looks at blueprints for a device he is building.
Cindy triumphantly returns from her fight against Stargirl, announcing that she did what no one else in the ISA could - she found Stargirl. Dr. Ito already knows this and gestures to the monitors. He comments that she didn't alert him, and asks if Stargirl's dead. Shiv answers probably, and he takes her Staff and angrily throws it, saying Stargirl survived. He sent minions to collect the body but it was gone. Shiv tells him she beat Stargirl, but there was someone else there but she couldn't see them. He deduces it was another JSA member and begins to angrily berate her for taking the Shiv suit "before graduation". He continues on about her reckless actions that almost jeopardized everyone. Cindy coutners that she hurt Stargirl, to which he doesn't doubt as he snidely says she hurts a lot of things. She demands he stop bringing up her mother but he coldly states that he didn't mention her mother. She begs for him to listen to her but he's done. He laments how instead of focusing on his important work, he had to explain his daughter's ill-attempt to the other ISA members, and notes she might never get her seat at the table now. Shiv exclaims she did nothing wrong, but he angrily tells her that Stargirl was in the tunnels and is still alive. He orders her to go back home and he'll call for her when the time comes. She stares in defiance, and he dares her to make him remove her hood. Out of fear of his true form, she leaves the lair and he returns to his work.
Beth Chapel wanders through the halls of the Burman-Ito residence, and enters Cindy's room where she finds a picture of an older Japenese man. She asks Chuck who the man is, and he identifies him as Dr. Shiro Ito, a controversial scientist from the 1930s. She asks him to elaborate, so Chuck shares more on Dr. Ito's backstory. Including how he allegedly was executed for war crimes in 1947, leaving Beth confused as to why Cindy has his picture. She later gives it to Pat who already knows about the scientist, remarking that he believes the new JSA to be bad luck.
At the King residence, Henry discovers his father's secret room filled with Brainwave paraphernalia. In the room, he finds a letter penned from Ito to Dr. King. Ito attached a photo of Cindy to the letter and wrote about how he is thankful for the opportunity to show off Cindy. He remarks the Cindy is very good at watching things and will keep a close eye on Dr. King's son, Henry Jr. Upon reading the letter. Henry is confused and drives off to the Burman residence.
That night, Dr. Ito watches his monitors as Cindy and Stargirl battle it out once again on the streets of Blue Valley. He presumably sends his minions to fetch Cindy and bring her to him through a sewer grate. He also watches Henry King Jr. exhibit telepathic or telekinetic abilities that resemble that of his comatose father. Ito blissfully realizes that his daughter was wrong, and Henry does have his father's powers.
Shiro continues to punish Cindy for disobeying him, going as far as locking her away in a cell inside his lair. He ignores her screams and protests to let her out. When those fail, she switches to a threatening tactic. She threatens to kill him just like she killed her mother. This catches Ito's attention, and he glides toward the cell door where she cockily admits to knowing he wouldn't lock up his only daughter. Without saying a word he closes the small window in the front of the door that allowed Cindy to peer out. She screams in protest but he ignores her as he returns to his blueprints. He tells someone to turn on the gas as his daughter needs a nap. The gas always calmed her as a child. He continues that he doesn't need to wait for Brainwave to awaken, as they have the next best thing - Brainwave's son.
Dr. Ito arrives at an ISA meeting where he greets Jordan and the rest of the group. He calmly tells them to call him Dr. Ito, instead of Dragon King. He stands by an empty chair and asks Anaya Bowin for permission to sit, as the chair is next to her. She is visibly uncomfortable but doesn't protest, so he takes a seat. A moment later he remarks that he knows they've had their differences in the past, but he is an ally to them in Project: New America. Jordan encourages Ito to tell the group his news, to which Ito stands, and announces that they can continue on with Project: New America without Brainwave's help. His son Henry King Jr. is also a telepath. He shows the group a map of the United States, remarking that with Henry fueling the satellite, they can broadcast his powers across six states. They will effectively control every developed mind across these states, carving ways for them to build a better America - their America.
Jordan brings a recently awakened Brainwave to Dr. Ito in the hopes the doctor can restore Brainwave's memories from the past decade. Dr. Ito attaches Brainwave to a machine that works to restore the lost memories. As he works, Cindy suddenly shouts that they have visitors, catching the attention of Ito who notices Stargirl, Wildcat, and Henry King Jr. have broken in. He merely raises one finger at the trio and commands his minions to "go". He watches as his minions fight the trio much to their demise.
After watching his minions fail, Dragon King decides to take matters into his own hands and join the fight. He approaches Stargirl who refers to him as Snap Dragon, but he angrily corrects that his name is Dragon King and unsheaths his Katana. The pair begin an intense battle with Stargirl using a spear and Dragon King using his sword. He is able to gain the upper hand by knocking her to the ground. She tries to block his Katana blow but it slices through the spear, rendering it useless. He grabs her and throws her across the room. He stands on top of the steps and lets out a yell as he leaps into the air, his sword raised above his head, and as he prepares to kill the heroine. Seconds before he lands, Wildcat slides Stargirl the Cosmic Staff and Stargirl is able to block the blade. She throws him aside with the force of the staff and stands to her feet, Wildcat by her side. Dragon King whirls around, his hood having flown off to reveal a scaly and lizard form with sharpened teeth and beady eyes. He lets out a yell as saliva drops from his mouth. The girls scream and Stargirl blasts him backward with her staff, rendering him unconscious.
The next day, Justin hallucinates Dragon King and his minions while visiting Pat Dugan at The Pit Stop. Justin reveals to Pat, Beth, and Rick, that he fought Dragon King at some point after the Seven Soldiers of Victory defeated the Dragon in New York. Justin lost so Dragon King kidnapped him and stole his identity and memories as punishment. Pat realizes that Justin was a test run for the ISA's brainwashing plot, with Justin slipping in and out of an amnesiac state. Pat believes that whatever Dr. Ito did to Justin is what the ISA is planning to do to everyone in Blue Valley, or maybe, the country. His cloaked minions were just the initial test runs before Justin.
With Brainwave ready to start Project New America, Dragon King fetches the telepath from his lair and brings him to a specially designed room that can handle the telepath's powers for a test run of the machine. He instructs Brainwave to sit in the chair and straps him in, hooking him up to electrodes that will conduct energy from Brainwave's mind to the machine and vice versa. Once Henry is strapped in, Dragon King informs him that the machine will either work or, every cell in Henry's pre-frontal cortex will melt and his spine will turn to mush thus, killing him instantly. Henry understands the risks and is ready to start the test run. Dragon King turns the machine on and watches as electricity shoots into Henry's brain and the telepath writhes in pain before taking control. Henry states that he can hear everyone's vile thoughts and that the machine will work. Dragon King responds that is good. Once the twelve-hour countdown hits the thirty-minute mark, Dragon King restarts the machine and watches as Brainwave begins Project New America.
The JSA arrive in the tunnels to stop the machine and manage to enable frequency blockers that free Stripesy and the Shining Knight from Brainwave's grasp. Dragon King realizes that something is wrong in the tunnels and leaves his post with Brainwave to see what the issue is. He meets with Jordan, Tigress, and Sportsmaster. They enter Dragon King's lair where they confront the JSA and Shining Knight. Dragon King stays silent during Jordan and Stargirl's exchange, unsheathing his Katana when the battle is about to begin. He follows Jordan's cue and walks to the center of the room before running, leaping into the air, and slicing downward with his sword.
Dragon King pairs with Shining Knight and they embark on an intense sword fight before slamming into Shiv's cell. Dragon King eerily states that Shining Knight only came back to die, but Shining Knight counters that someone is going to die today, but isn't going to be him. He pushes Dragon King off him and continues their fight. Dragon King gains the upper hand in their fight, kicking Shining Knight to the floor. The hero skitters backward to the steps where he tries to grasp his sword, but the cloaked villain steps on the blade, stopping Shining Knight. He raises the Katana above his head ready to impale the man when suddenly, he is stabbed through the back and chest. He grunts unexpectedly and falls to the side to reveal Shiv, who has stabbed her father. She sheaths her wrist blade and coldly states that he shouldn't have locked her up, calling him "daddy" before walking away, Dragon King lying still on the lair floor.
In a flashback to ten years ago in Farmersville, California, a young Cindy Burman awakens from a nightmare screaming for her mother. Suzanne Ito rushes in and comforts her daughter. Cindy had a dream that her father was coming to get her as he wanted to change her into something terrible. Suzanne assures Cindy that they are safe here and that he can't find her ever again. She puts Cindy back to bed before leaving the room. Emerging from the shadows is Dragon King, who looks at his daughters sleeping body in her bed. In the darkness, Cindy begins to scream.
The Dragon King seems to value trust among allies and what the Injustice Society stands for, thus he has a low opinion of those who turn against it like The Wizard and The Shade. This in turn reveals he has a vengeful and petty side, admitting the gratitude that The Wizard was dead due to apparent hostility he showed him in the past. He is also fairly honest, saying directly to Icicle he had no intention of turning against him despite the fact that he initially had doubts and reservations when Icicle first formed the society.
As a scientist he seems very dedicated to his experiments with seemingly no concern for ethics, mentioning he was already experimenting on his own daughter, busying himself in that endeavor, and sought to use the body of the deceased Wizard for some unknown end. This show of ruthlessness was such it even left the normally cold-hearted Icicle stunned. The Dragon King seems to have little if any regard for human life, viewing his numerous servants as merely expendable tools, more annoyed at the amount of work it took to "condition" one his daughter killed rather than the death itself.
As a parent, he is extremely distant from his daughter in spite of his claiming he gave her powers to protect her. He repeatedly denies her requests to join the Injustice Society, referring to her acts of violence as tantrums, and coldly assumes she can be pacified with mere clothes or parties. Whether he actually does care about her beyond as a subject for his experiments is currently unknown, though according to Brainwave, he sees Cindy as merely a failed experiment.
Possibly as a result of his mutation, Dragon King occasionally exhibits more animal-like traits, mainly when agitated or in combat. As he prepared to battle Courtney he made several hissing noises, not unlike a snake or a crocodile, possibly as a way to intimidate her. When he was finally knocked back and unmasked, he roared loudly at Yolanda and Courtney, seemingly giving in to his animal side for a moment. Additionally, he's shown to be extremely aggressive in combat, never letting up for a second during his brief fight with Courtney.
Dragon King's primary attire consists of a dark green hood with a yellow dragon in the center, a similarly dark green cape with a high collar and matching dragon symbol on the back, green gloves, a yellow leather apron with various bloodstains and a crimson-colored belt containing numerous surgical tools. Unmasked Dragon King has a heavily mutated, reptilian face with green, scale-covered skin, a prominent ridge on his head, two sets of eyelids, and pointed, fang-like teeth. Prior to his mutation, Dragon King was a middle-aged man of Japanese descent with short, combed back black hair, brown eyes, and a mustache/goatee. His main attire, from what little was seen, mainly consisted of a white lab coat.
- Reptilian Physiology: Dr. Ito has been experimenting on himself since the 1940s. He altered his DNA to become a human-reptile hybrid.
- Enhanced Strength: Dr. Ito due to his mutated physiology is much stronger than an average man, able to casually throw Courtney across a room with a single hand and cut through a metal pole with a single, one-armed slash from his sword.
- Longevity: Dr. Ito has been alive since 1901 yet shows no signs his advanced age has affected his physical condition. Additionally, Pat Dugan believes that Dr. Ito can't be killed due to the extensive scientific experiments Ito conducted on himself.
- Genius-Level Intellect: Dr. Ito is shown to be an exceptional scientist, able to develop chemicals that have enabled him to live well beyond a normal human, as well as covering both technical and medical fields since he was tasked by Icicle with spearheading the construction of a machine which shall be crucial for the implementation of Project New America as well as modifying organics to serve Ito's causes. Under his tutelage, his daughter would become knowledgeable in the field of chemistry, so much that she did not even have to look at the instructions for one of her assignments.
- Master Swordsman: During his battle with Courtney, Dr. Ito demonstrated a great deal of proficiency with a katana, easily overpowering her despite primarily fighting with only one hand. He later further proved his skill by managing to overpower and defeat Justin, a former knight of King Arthur and immortal swordsman with over 1000 years of combat experience.
- Dragon King Suit: Ito wore a suit as his alter-ego, Dragon King.
- Katana: When engaged in combat, Ito utilizes a Japanese Katana he is highly skilled with.
Additional Season 1 appearances include a photograph in "", a mention in "" and a hallucination in "".
Notes and Trivia
- Dr. Ito is now in possession of William Zarick's body, after requesting it from Jordan Mahkent in "".
- He built the Shiv Armor for Cindy and is alluded to being the brain behind the ISA.
- In the DC comics, Dr. Ito and Dragon King are separate characters:
- Dr. Ito was a Golden Age enemy of the Americommando and a Japanese General during World War II.
- Dragon King was a brilliant scientist living in Imperial Japan. He joined the Black Dragon Society when World War II began, making him second only to the Emperor as regards to power in his country.
- Shiro Ito is the oldest character to be introduced in the series so far. He was born in 1901 and 'died' at the age of 119 in 2020. The second oldest is Charles McNider.