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Friday, January 12, 2007


NOTE: This piece was slightly updated on 1/7/2018.

Everyone goes on about Wonder Woman being the baddest of the super-women, and while I give her much respect for being the first, she sure as shit isn’t the baddest. That distinction belongs to the mighty Big Barda.

In a very wise move, Barda's unveiling was saved for the book's interior, and what a reveal it was!

First rearing her helmeted head in MISTER MIRACLE #4 (Oct. 1971), Barda showed up from out of nowhere, brazenly strode into the hero’s home like she owned the place, was rude to his dwarf sidekick, and, upon hearing that the hero was in mortal danger, wasted no time in rushing to his side to kick as much ass as possible.

Tall, tough, and straight to the point, she’s my kind of gal and has been my favorite female superhero ever since I first saw her over three decades ago.

Created by comics-god Jack Kirby — if you don’t know who he is, look him up immediately — after checking out a PLAYBOY pictorial of Semitic bombshell Lainie Kazan (see below; Gaw-DAMN!!!),

Barda’s a seven-foot tall immortal warrior from Apokolips, a fire-spewing, extra-dimensional planet that could give Hell a run for its money, and its inhabitants are among the hardest the universe has to offer simply by virtue of being able to exist in such harsh surroundings. Bred to be one of the evil lord Darkseid’s elite troopers, Barda underwent the ultra-Spartan mental and physical disciplines required to forge her into a planet-conquering soldier under the sadistic hand of Granny Goodness, along with nebulously defined “special powers training” that honed her already formidable natural attributes into the very definition of superhuman strength and resilience.

Supplemented with the multi-function Mega-Rod (stop snickering) — a high-tech war club that serves as an energy weapon and allows her to fly — and one of the most bitchin’ suits of armor in comics history, Barda’s an imposing figure indeed, sort of a Norse Valkyrie gene-spliced with Slymenstra Hymen of the comedy-metal band Gwar (seen below).

During her centuries as a trooper, Barda rose through the ranks and eventually became the leader of the Female Furies, the gender-segregated cream of Granny Goodness’s homicidal crop, and in no time became so feared that the mere mention of her girls sent the oppressed citizenry screaming in terror.

But also suffering within Darkseid’s military machine was young Scott Free — the pacifist half of an exchange of heirs that cemented a shaky cease-fire between Apokolips and its opposite number, New Genesis — a soldier who was diametrically opposed to his master’s doctrines, and during his time on Apokolips he developed his godlike escape skills, eventually fleeing to Earth where he took up the mantle of Mister Miracle, Super Escape Artist.

When Barda and Scott met as youths it was an instant clash of personalities and ideologies, the battle between the hawk and the dove writ superhuman, so it was only a matter of time before the opposites attracted. Something deep within the seasoned war-goddess was touched by the thoughtful, gentle man who was unlike anyone else on her homeworld, and at risk to her own life she aided in Scott’s journey to the Earth, eventually defecting from Darkseid’s army and joining her lover’s life of staying one step ahead of her former lord’s endless efforts at retaliation.

Once on Earth and utterly taken with human culture, Barda adapted in the most unexpected of ways: when not putting armored boot to ass, the statuesque war-goddess enjoyed being an exaggerated, over-the-top model housewife, content to fuss over her beloved husband and live a life as far removed from her upbringing as possible. But combat is her forte and Barda has fought side by side with many of Earth’s greatest metahuman warriors and proven herself among the toughest of their numbers. No joke, kiddiewinkies, this bitch has taken down Superman, for fuck’s sake, and he didn’t even hold a grudge (which may have had something to do with the porno film the two of them made while under the mind-control of Sleez; no, I’m not making that up)!

In many ways Big Barda reminds me of a much more honest version of what Wonder Woman’s supposed to be about; an embodiment of the fierceness and tenacity of the female, completely indomitable and heroic, yet loving and nurturing with her friends and loved ones, but with the personality quirks and foibles that make an interesting individual. Short-tempered, brusque, apt to respond to a situation with her fists rather than negotiating like a pussy (as she would no doubt put it herself), fiercely protective, very funny without realizing it, rather vulnerable beneath the surface, each of those traits reminds me of many women I know and is what makes Barda unique and a genuine pleasure to read about.

Wonder Woman has little of that, instead being a mostly characterless template (if handled by the wrong writer) from which all other superwomen sprang, and that’s cool, but give me the Aphrodite from Apokolips over Diana any day.

And allow me to go on record and flat out state that the story where Barda hangs out on Wonder Woman’s home island and is defeated in a sparring match against WW is a load of horseshit! Yeah, Diana’s a badass and one of DC’s “big three,” but Barda’s been around for centuries, kicking ass nearly every day against ultra-violent, sadistic shit Diana couldn’t even begin to imagine, so Barda’s got the advantage thanks to sheer hours logged in! That fucking princess gets everything…

Well, at least my girl has made it onto TV screens via the excellent JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED cartoon (below)

and the equally superb,kiddie-ained JUSTICE LEAGUE ACTION (below), 

in which she's given a simpler design that nails the visual weirdness of Kirby, which they managed to accentuate by giving her disturbingly large eyes and a forward-fixed glare.

And talk about what could have been the greatest comic ever, but never came to pass, and drawn by Steve (NEXUS) Rude, just to make its non-existence that much more painful:

So here's to Barda, and may we someday see a DC/Marvel crossover wherein she puts her armored boot right up She-Hulk's wisecracking green rectum!


Anonymous said...

Was I present for the seminal, hrm, discussion that spawned, hem, this article?


Jared said...

Still looking for a women who can beat you up, ay?

Bunche said...

Oh, I've already found women who can beat me up. In fact, you've met at least two of them.