1744 - Big Barda is born on Apokolips and is raised in Granny Goodness's Terror Orphanages, where she becomes leader of the Female Furies.
6 years ago - Barda leads the Female Furies to Earth to capture Scott Free, but betrays Apokolips to join him. They are married on New Genesis by All-Father, and retire to Earth.
4 years ago - Barda & Scott Free are attacked by a Parademon wave. they return to Apokolips to win their freedom in combat.
2 years ago - Barda joins the Watchtower at the request of the All-Father to help prepare them for Maggeddon.
1 year ago - Barda battles Maggeddon alongside the Watchtower. Gives birth to Shiloh Free, her son with her husband Scott Free. Her duty to the Watchtower completed, she joins the Justice League along with her husband.
Barda is awesome. She is exactly as hardcore as Wonder Woman, but without the scrutiny of being the only long-running female superhero in the world, which means she gets to actually deliver on her rampant badassery. She is a Death Metal album cover, a punk rock middle finger pointed straight at the patriarchy. When she is written correctly, she goes off like an atom bomb. You have to be careful with the New Gods because they can be too overpowered to interact with the less Kirby-tastic characters, but certain characters are absolutely worth the effort. I just want to say it one more time; Barda is awesome.
Barda's Comic History
Big Barda first appeared in the pages of Mister Miracle in 1971, one of the new series depicting Jack Kirby's revolutionary fourth world. She was evidently visually based on actress and recent playboy playmate Lainie Kazan, who I know as the mom from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. She was a foil and eventual romantic interest of the hero Scott Free, their interaction supposedly based on Kirby's relationship with his wife Roz, which really makes me want to know more about their relationship.
Barda was definitely conceived as a supporting character for Mister Miracle, and perhaps that was part of what allowed her to be SO cool. She's clearly a deliberate reversal of traditional female character stereotypes, but that probably wouldn't have been permitted if she was being asked to carry the narrative herself. Even when Mister Miracle joined various incarnations of the Justice League, Barda was never really considered a full member herself. She was still a supporting character, no more an actual active member of the League than Elongated Man's wife Sue Dibny. The fact that she would regularly suit up and fight alongside the team didn't really change that fact.
She finally actually joined a Justice League team in the pages of Grant Morrison's JLA when he was building an allegory for the greek pantheon. We finally saw just how lucky we were that she had been a more peripheral character for so long because once she was finally up front with the big guns she totally stole the show. She continues to be a side character in the current continuity, but whenever she shows up you know that literally everything is getting punched real soon.
Our Big Barda Story
We tried to tread carefully when adding certain characters from the cannon of the New Gods. Kirby's fourth world has always seemed oddly distinct from the rest of DC. It's meant to be a self-contained story, and to use them too much very much undermines the power levels of the Earth-based heroes. At first we even considered not touching them at all, but you can't not use Barda. Barda rules.
We tried our best to be very careful with just how and when we included her, which went on to inform the way we used any other New God characters. Her story unfolds much like the comics. She grows up in Granny Goodness's Terror Orphanages where she was given a name meant to insult her that she turned into a badge of awesomeness. She leads the Furies to Earth to track Mister Miracle before she ultimately rejects her brutal upbringing and instead chooses to fight alongside the man she loves. We only used a few of her adventures on Earth, mostly showing them attempting to live a normal life, but ultimately the call to adventure is just too much. She joins the Watchtower at the behest of Highfather to prepare Earth for the arrival of Maggeddon.
What we invented here is her inclusion as a member of our original Justice League team. The idea of trying to assemble a totally new group of heroes and not taking advantage of this incredibly likeable, powerful, empowering hero was just impossible.
Barda & Scott Free
This is a great example of just how awesome comics can be given the opportunity. The relationship between these two characters is born out of a wild, galaxy spanning adventure... but at the same time their romance blossomed from a very human, very true-to-life place. Watching them fall in love was believable. It felt real. They are one of the best couples in FICTION, let alone comics, because the devotion they feel for each other is palpable. The visual of them together, with Barda towering over her totally-cool-with-it husband is one of those iconic images that define the stories of these characters.
Of course, while lots of "future" timelines that have been depicted in comics have featured a child of Barda & Scott, we've decided to pull the trigger and actually make them parents. Comics, like a lot of fiction, really delight in depicting disfunction, but this couple has always stood out in the way they make their partnership work despite the challenges they face. Depicting this sort of functional couple actually succeed in parenting while both serving on the new Justice League is a really great and refreshing new story idea.
Barda 's battle armor is incredibly iconic. One of the best parts of the New Gods is the fact that it feels like Jack Kirby's imagination completely run amok, and Barda might be one of the best examples of that. It's undergone a lot of tiny little changes over the years based on the artist that drew her, but she is always such a unique presence that she is unmistakable.
Now, Barda has ALSO appeared in an alternate costume a few times. It might seem ridiculous, but she has gone into battle wearing a red... battle-bikini? It's ludicrous, right?
Well... yes... but... it... kinda works. Barda is such a unquestionable badass, and she also managed to be incredibly sexy even when NO skin is on display. Somehow she manages to have the exact same aesthetic when she is wearing this joke of an ensemble. It's actually kinda badass. You can kind of imagine that she actually would wear this in less formal battle scenarios?
Still, obviously the correct look is her full battle armor. How could it not? It's one of the coolest superhero costumes in existence.
Barda has always been one of the most visible of the New Gods; actually living on earth with her husband. There was a long-standing notion that she was trying to live a very domestic life; I actually own a trading card that features her vacuuming a carpet with a framed photo of her in her costume in the background. It's funny, I guess, but what a massive waste of one of the single coolest characters comics have ever created.
Barda HAD to be in the Justice League. This is a character that should be in four comics every month. She should be on lunchboxes and have a dozen movies with a new actress playing her every few years. We should never, ever get enough of her. She was a member of the Watchtower briefly, but that team is incredibly distant from humanity. Her new status as part of the new Earth-based Hall of Justice League puts her front and center in the superheroic community; she is going to be on the front lines of every major battle, fighting alongside the best of the best. Where she SHOULD be.
Moving forward, we get to watch her and Scott as parents. She's always been this fantastic juxtaposition of what women are expected to be vs just how powerful and awesome they actually ARE, and watching her absolutely crush motherhood is going to rock.
Allies & Teams
I didn't mind the idea of final crisis. ALL Things must end eventually and while there were a few good things in the 90s there were also elements that were painfully stupid (just like New 52. A few ideas like the court of owls were fantastic but unfortunately there were also downright pants on head idiotic elements too.)
I absolutely agree that Final Crisis was fantastic. I'm a huge Grant Morrison fanboy, and it was amazing watching him essentially write the literal end of the DC Universe.
BUT... that story really doesn't belong in the mainstream continuity. I love that it exists, but I certainly wouldn't include it here. Having the New Gods come to earth and participate in the stories happening here is cool if you do it sparingly (like in Tom King's Mister Miracle miniseries), but I very much prefer not to have the larger stories of the Fourth World happen on earth because the scope is so widely different. When the actual in-continuity tale of the fall of the New Gods is told, I'd want it to happen in THEIR world, not here.
Of course, as a child of the 80's and 90's, I'm very much in favor of the concept of elseworlds comics. I love stories like Final Crisis or Dark Metal or Kingdom Come... just... stop trying to make them be part of the regular continuity. Let them stand on their own.