Publisher: DC Comics
First Appearance: Mister Miracle v1 #4 (October 1971)
Created By: Jack Kirby
Big Barda was born on the hellish planet of Apokolips. Chosen at a young age to become a warrior, she was personally groomed by Granny Goodness to someday lead the Female Furies. And lead them she did – until she met a certain so-and-so named Scott Free during a raid on a hive of anti-Darkseid rebels. Rather than arrest Scott, she let him go, and later even helped him escape to Earth via boom tube.
Shortly afterwards, Barda decided to defect to Earth herself. She quickly joined up with Scott, who was now touring as an escape artist called “Mister Miracle.” And, well, what Apokoliptian girl can resist a sensitive man with rockin’ sideburns who likes to be tied up? Reader, she married the crap out of him.
The Frees attempted to settle down to a quiet life in the suburbs, but kept getting pulled into superhero shenanigans, first as members of the JLI, then with Barda joining the JLA. She also became a professional wrestler, formed a self-defense training program for ordinary Earth women, briefly joined the Birds of Prey, fought former Fury Knockout to a draw, and led Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman on a trip to Apokolips to rescue Supergirl from Darkseid’s thrall.
Barda was killed by Infinity-Man in Death of the New Gods, but resurrected along with the other New Gods in Final Crisis. She and Scott haven’t been seen yet in the DCnU, but Scott’s sort-of foster brother Orion is paling around with Wonder Woman these days so presumably Scott and Barda out there somewhere. And they’re probably doin’ it.
So What’s So Great About Her?
I’ve started and restarted this section a few times now, because every time I try to talk about how great Big Barda is I get all flaily and wind up just going “She’s just so…BIG!”
But really, there it is. Barda is larger than life. She is pure power fantasy, unfiltered id, an absolute embodiment of joyous, righteous violence. She’s bigger than Superman, which is just the best thing ever! But she’s not just The Muscle; she’s a skilled warrior, as good at weapons and strategy as she is at cracking parademon skulls.
That said, she’s a lot more carelessly destructive and prone to rage than most of the other female heavy hitters in comics, which, again: total power fantasy. It’s the brave (and idiotic) construction worker who catcalls Barda, even when she’s sporting her awesome red space bikini (because why wear pants when you’re Big Barda?). There’s a great moment in Mister Miracle v2 when Barda tells Scott that a man was lurking in her car and threatened her with a knife. “My God – is he all right?!” Scott asks, panicked. Barda simply mows through anything that annoys her, and that’s joyously cathartic to read.
On the other side of the coin, she’s in one of the healthiest, sweetest marriages in the DCU. I don’t mean to suggest that Barda wouldn’t be a fantastic character without Scott, but it’s her relationship with him that lets us see her softer side. Though her sense of justice is always evident, he brings out her compassion, her mercy, and her sense of humor. And she totally brings out his determination and playfulness, so it goes both ways!
Their dynamic is also delightful because they’re so unconventional, especially in the DCU, which is packed full of big muscly heroes and their comparatively tiny reporter girlfriends. Barda is head and shoulders taller than her “little man,” and fond of throwing him over her shoulder on their way to bed. And he loves it. The implied BDSM in their sex life is also a refreshing change, as too often kink is portrayed in comics as the sole purview of villains. Ain’t nothing wrong with an unconventional sex life, as Scott and Barda know well.
Oh, and Barda super gets along with other women and is deeply invested in being an ally, mentor, and protector to them – aside from the real Furies and her ordinary Earth ones, she trained Fire, fits right in with the Birds, literally charged into Hell to rescue Supergirl, and is total ladybros with Wonder Woman and Huntress. Plus she loves Pokemon. And is a terrible cook. And she’s still just so BIG!
Barda would be a great fit for any number of books: a Justice League title, the already-Orion-having Wonder Woman, Birds of Prey, or the “Ladies of the JLI” team-up book I dream of in my secret heart. I, for one, am eagerly awaiting her glorious return.
Mister Miracle v1 #4-21, 23-25
Mister Miracle v2 #1-28
Justice League International v1 #7, 14-21, 24
Justice League America #27-30, 40
New Gods v1 #9, 18, 22
New Gods v2 #13-15
Mister Miracle v3 #1-6
JLA #16-21, 24-26, 32, 33, 36-41, 112, 113, 120
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World 1-5, 8, 10-12, 15, 17, 19
Orion #1-3, 8, 13, 25
Birds of Prey v1 #100-110, 112
Death of the New Gods #1, 2
Final Crisis #7
Booster Gold v2 #34-36