During the 1960s and 1970s, comics were full of stereotypes, such as damsels in distress. When Jack Kirby created his Fourth World concept for DC, a character that went against stereotype was Big Barda. The wife of Mister Miracle, Barda was taller, stronger and more intimidating than her husband. The reversal of a traditional relationship was unheard of at the time, which made Barda stand out even more. The Comic Vault is taking a look into Barda’s history and what makes her such an awesome character.
As a member of the New Gods, Barda was brought up to serve Darkseid. She was taken from her mother at a young age and trained to be a warrior by the sadistic Granny Goodness. Granny groomed her to become the leader of the Female Fury Battalion, a ruthless group of women who executed Darkseid’s enemies. During a raid, Barda encountered Scott Free, Darkseid’s adopted son. She sensed a peace within him that was lacking on Apokolips and they fell in love.
Meeting Scott inspired her to work with a rebel group led by fellow New God Himon. One of Barda’s people had been tortured and murdered by the local authorities. She and her Furies helped Scott escape Apokolips, but she wasn’t ready to follow him yet. Eventually, she turned her back on Granny Goodness and joined Scott on Earth. By this time, Scott had become Mister Miracle and Barda married him. They went on tour across the world to promote Scott’s escapism act.
Barda’s experiences on Apokolips caused her to retire as a superhero and she and Scott relocated to New Hampshire. Although naïve to Earth’s customs, Barda relished her role as a wife and housekeeper, finding it a more peaceful life. However, when she was needed in battle, Barda suited up and joined the Justice League on several occasions. She also served with the Justice League of America, helping them stop an alien invasion. Barda has acted as the heavy-hitter for the Birds of Prey, showing her strength among other capable women.
As a New God, Barda has superhuman strength that puts her on the same level as Superman and Wonder Woman. As the former leader of the Female Furies, Barda is a master combatant. Her fighting skill is so great that when she fought Wonder Woman hand to hand it ended in a draw. Barda’s weapon of choice is the ‘Mega-Rod,’ a rod capable of producing concussive blasts and dropping people as powerful as Superman.
Despite her ferocity in battle, Barda has a soft side when it comes to her husband and friends. Barda has rescued Mister Miracle many times and is very protective of him. Kirby’s assistant, Mark Evanier said that Barda was modelled on Lainie Kazan and her relationship with Mister Miracle mirrored the one Kirby had with his wife, Roz.
“In the case of Big Barda, the visual started with Lainie but all the personality and style was one of the many ways Jack viewed his spouse, Roz — especially the scenes where Barda would be fiercely protective of Scott “Mr. Miracle” Free. Jack, of course, saw himself as Mr. Miracle though the notion of a character who was a “Super Escape Artist” had started when writer-artist Jim Steranko told Jack about one of his previous careers. To some extent, Jack saw himself as all the decent characters he drew, and even the villains sometimes reflected aspects of himself of which he was not proud.”
Big Barda is one of Kirby’s greatest creations and her relationship with Mister Miracle is a great example of an enduring love story.