Who's Big Barda?

Who's This? A Female Fury. Some would say, THE Female Fury.
The facts: Though known as Mister Miracle's spouse today, I recently read Jack Kirby's original run on the book (#18), and they only pull the trigger on that in the last issue! Neither Scott Free nor Barda seem to realize they're in love for most of the original stories, and she's more or less a fellow rebel from Apokolips, and a "magician's assistant" to his feats of escapology. She first appears in Mister Miracle #4, though chronologically, Kirby has her and Scott are both mentored by Himon when they were younger. After Kirby's Fourth World books get cancelled (MM the last hold-out), Barda has to wait for Scott's star to shine again, which will be his inclusion in Justice League International in the late '80s, getting him his own book in which Barda features prominently as they try to live a "normal" life in the suburbs. She participates in several JLI missions, but isn't really considered part of the team, only becoming a Justice Leaguer under Grant Morrison's JLA, when the team is expanded (between #17 and #41). In the 2000s, she appears only sporadically, but joins the Birds of Prey, and later gets killed in Death of the New Gods only to be reborn in Final Crisis. Flashpoint would soon reset continuity anyway.
How you could have heard of her: In the New52, Mister Miracle and Big Barda are on Earth-2, and in Rebirth, Batman recruits them to help in the Drowned Earth event. Alternate versions of Barda have appeared in DC Comics Bombshells and DC Super Hero Girls, but watch for her to surely appear in Ava DuVernay's New Gods movie (her scriptwriter Kario Salem has said publicly that Barda was her favorite superhero).
Example story:
Mister Miracle #4 (September-October 1971) "The Closing Jaws of Death!" by Jack Kirby, with Vince Colletta
Yes, why NOT her first appearance? Because it's all there already. The short temper of a FURY:
Oberon is naturally a little shocked, but she describes herself as not so bad, "a little rough, maybe! But once you get to know me -- I can be a real pussycat!" "The kind that stalks you in a jungle, I'll bet!" is his retort. In the comics, the sight of this alien warrior giantess is often contrasted with domestic surroundings. How about a sandwich and a glass of milk?
And it all goes flying when she hears of Mister Miracle's abduction by Baron Bedlam. She teleports to the Baron's death trap to free the man she doesn't know she loves.
Of course, he's already escaped the falling safe, that's his whole brand. Hers is total devotion to Scott (it's mutual) and rock'em-sock'em super-strength.
The building reminds me of the one in Dredd or The Raid, but those movies would last about 5 minutes with Barda in the lead role.
Granny Goodness' former pupils are finally reunited and we learn that Barda helped Scott escape Apokolips but chose not to come with him. Maybe she should have. Well better late than never. And that first issue, also introduces her unarmored, "civilian" look:
That's Big Barda in a nutshell, and even in the early '70s, it felt pretty progressive to have the physical powerhouse of the book be a woman. Mister Miracle was all about finesse, a sort of passive hero figure who thwarted plans and escaped traps. Barda was the passionate, impulsive brawn of the operation. Eventually, she event "turned" the other Female Furies and integrated them into the act. If Kirby had been allowed to bring his Fourth World epic to term, I wonder how Barda would have fit? As was, Mister Miracle more or less went on as a superhero title divorced from the bigger story until its last issue.

Who's Next? Another Kirby Kreation.


ten-cent media said...

Nicely drawn and Vinnie Colletta gets the most out of Jack's somewhat grotesque females.


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