Art by Stephane Roux.
|First appearance||Mister Miracle #4 (October 1971)|
|Created by||Jack Kirby (writer & artist)|
|Alter ego||Barda Free|
|Place of origin||Apokolips|
|Team affiliations||New Gods
Birds of Prey
In a reversal of the stereotype associated with female characters at the time of her creation, Barda is physically more powerful than her husband, Mister Miracle, and very protective of him.
Jack Kirby based Barda's physical appearance on Lainie Kazan, who had recently appeared topless in Playboy. Mark Evanier, Kirby's assistant on the Fourth World comics, has stated, "Jack based some of his characters (not all) on people in his life or in the news... the characterization between Scott 'Mister Miracle' Free and Barda was based largely—though with tongue in cheek—on the interplay between Kirby and his wife Roz." Big Barda was ranked 75th in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.
Fictional character biography
Barda is a member of the race known as the New Gods. She was born about 250 years ago, on Apokolips. Her mother was named Big Breeda, but Barda was taken away from her at an early age to be trained as a warrior. She was a product of Granny Goodness' Home for Orphaned Youth. Granny's motto is "Die for Darkseid" (the planet's evil ruler). Granny groomed Barda to one day lead the Female Fury Battalion, a ferocious pack of warrior women. However, during a raid, Barda meets Scott Free, Darkseid's adopted son, and, sensing a peace about him, fell in love.
Barda risked her own safety to work with the rebel cell led by the New God Himon. This comes directly after the murder of most of Himon's cell by the local authority, Wonderful Williki. This includes one of Barda's people, Auralie, who was tortured to death for the 'crime' of dancing. Moments later, Himon kills Willik with a bomb. Barda, her Furies, Himon and Metron assist Scott in escaping Apokolips. Darkseid himself calls for Scott to return but doesn't actually stop him as he wishes Scott to leave so a war with New Genesis can start. Barda doesn't leave at that point for she is not emotionally ready. Eventually, Barda completely turns her back on Granny Goodness and came to Earth herself. Scott had become an escape artist called Mister Miracle, and is teamed with Oberon, his diminutive manager. Oberon and Barda become close friends. For a while, Barda's Furies assist Scott in his showmanship efforts but they return to Apokolips by themselves. Scott and Barda are married by Scott's father, the Highfather of New Genesis.
For a number of years, Barda followed Scott and Oberon on tour. Eventually they retired as superheroes and moved to Bailey, New Hampshire. However, despite their best attempts, a normal life eluded them. Disasters plagued them; Barda, Scott, and Oberon left Bailey and moved to a loft in Greenwich Village. Barda formed a defense-training program for women called the New Female Furies.
Though naïve regarding Earth customs, Barda relished her roles of wife and housekeeper. However, when duty called she never hesitated to assume the posture of a warrior; and when Scott joined the Justice League, Barda participated in several missions. In one instance, while training Fire, her weapon, the Mega-Rod is stolen from her car. With the assistance of her husband and the Huntress, she gets it back, but not before many innocent people were killed by its wielder who was unable to resist the corrupting influence of the Apokoliptian technology. Barda also led a JLA mission to rescue her husband after he was lost in space. The mission was a result of Manga Khan selling Scott to Granny Goodness. Her teammates included Martian Manhunter, Rocket Red, and G'nort. In an attempt to dissuade their successful pursuit, Manga Khan hired Lobo, paying him in dolphin feed, to kill them. He almost does, before Barda teleported him to a random location, that being ten feet behind Guy Gardner's skull. The repercussions of that literal meeting of the minds would last for years.
After their time with the JLI, the two left Earth for New Genesis. However, they soon returned to Earth and took up temporary residence aboard the Justice League Refuge. During this period, the couple separated briefly due to Scott's lack of consideration for her feelings. Barda also perishes; but is reborn via Scott's temporary access to great cosmic power.
Barda has served as a member of the JLA in her own right as well. At Takion's order, she and fellow New God Orion were sent as agents of New Genesis to serve on the team. Takion predicted that the Earth faced a grave threat. Their mission is to help mobilize Earth's heroes against the omnipotent Mageddon. Over time, they become involved with several other JLA missions. Adam Strange, needing help with an alien invasion, enslaved the JLA as part of a bluff. The League worked for days, turning the planet into a giant teleportation beam. The aliens were sent off to the prison planet of Takron-Galtos, which Barda had mentioned several times during the ordeal. In another instance, Barda was badly wounded fighting the Queen Bee, a member of the newly reformed Injustice League. Once Mageddon was defeated, Barda and Orion resigned from the JLA.
After the League
Barda accompanied Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman to Apokolips to rescue Supergirl from Darkseid's clutches, and accepted an invitation from Oracle to become the heavy-hitter on the Birds of Prey.
A similar-looking character named Little Barda appeared as a member of the Teen Titans in 52 #21; the character leaves the group in the same issue. Her relationship to Big Barda is unknown, though she escaped from Apokolips with Power Boy.
In a confrontation with the Secret Six, she engaged Knockout, another ex-Fury, in hand-to-hand combat. Although the fight was long and continued in the midst of other larger concerns for her team, it ended in a draw.
Big Barda was killed in the first issue of Death of the New Gods; her funeral occurred in the second issue of the series. Infinity-Man was later revealed as the killer. He had been slaughtering all the 'New Gods' in the name of restarting a new age of deities.
The New 52
Powers and abilities
Barda is a New God, a race of people who evolved into genetically advanced beings thanks to their proximity to the Source. As such, she possesses immense superhuman strength that puts her into the same strength class as Superman and Wonder Woman. She is also highly resistant to blunt force trauma, temperature and pressure extremes, and is partially bulletproof. Her Apokoliptan physiology prevents her from aging and makes her immune to disease. She is a master combatant, having been trained in all forms of Apokiliptian warfare. Her skill and strength is such that she has fought Wonder Woman to a draw.
Barda also wields a high tech weapon of Apokoliptan origins called a "Mega-Rod." The rod is capable of producing extremely powerful concussive bolts capable of felling beings as durable as Superman, allows Barda to teleport herself and others long distances, can increase gravitational forces, and can be used as an indestructible club in melee combat.  Barda also has access to other forms of Fourth World technology, including Aero-Discs that allow her to defy gravity and fly, Apokoliptan battle armor that augments her already impressive durability, and a Mother Box, which she can use to create Boom Tubes for transportation over long distances and between dimensions.
Barda appears in the limited series Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, which is set in an alternate future timeline of DC continuity. Orion has overthrown Darkseid and is the reluctant ruler of Apokolips. Barda (now sporting an eye-patch) and Scott Free work to teach the "lowlies" to think for themselves, with Orion's approval. The two have a daughter, Avia, who deploys a mega-rod and wears an outfit that combines elements of those of her parents.
In Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Strikes Again, as America descends into anarchy and chaos, a former porn star called Hot Gates (a reference to Miller's 300 comic) takes up the mantle of "Big Barda" in order to declare herself dictator of Columbus, Ohio.
Superman/Batman #24 depicts "Big Bard", the male version of Big Barda from a reverse gender universe, who is married to Miss Miracle.
In JLA: Another Nail, Barda becomes a Green Lantern Corps member, although her power ring having fused to her Mother Box has made her a rather unusual Green Lantern. Mister Miracle's consciousness also inhabits the ring and he can project himself as a spectral green figure.
Barda appears in two graphic novels that DC loosely based on the animated series Batman Beyond, Justice League Beyond and Superman Beyond: Man of Tomorrow, where, as in the animated series, she belongs to the Justice League during the tenure of Terry McGinnis as Batman. Justice League Beyond contains a separate section at the end titled "Beyond: Origins" that briefly summarized the origins of Warhawk (Chapter 1), Aquagirl (Chapter 2), and Barda (Chapter 3). Chapter 3 gives an origin story for Barda similar to her canonical mainstream comic book continuity storyline, but sets the events later so that in the Beyond universe she was born later and didn't join the Justice League until Superman had already visibly aged and begun wearing the black and white costume he sports in the Beyond stories.
In other media
- Big Barda makes a cameo at the end of the second part of the Superman: The Animated Series episode, "Apokolips...Now!". When Orion appears to declare Earth under the protection of New Genesis, she can be seen in the background as part of the defensive army in her trademark battle armor.
- In the two-part episode titled "The Call" of the animated series Batman Beyond, Barda (voiced by Farrah Forke) is a member of the Justice League forty years in the future, along with Warhawk, Superman, a new Green Lantern, Aquagirl, and others. At Superman's request, Batman investigates the members of the Justice League to find a traitor who has been trying to kill off the members one at a time. Barda at first does not trust Terry and treats him with nothing short of contempt, but after he saves her and the rest of the Justice League Unlimited from Starro, the one responsible for framing Superman for the attempted murders, he gains her respect and trust.
- Big Barda appears in the Justice League Unlimited episode "The Ties That Bind," voiced again by Forke. Her physique is uncharacteristically slender in this appearance. In the episode, Granny Goodness kidnaps Oberon and forces Barda and Mister Miracle to rescue Kalibak from the clutches of Virman Vundabar. With the help of Flash, they rescue Kalibak and trick Granny Goodness into revealing Oberon's whereabouts. After Oberon is safe, the couple leave Apokolips, but not before Barda punches Granny Goodness in the face.
- Big Barda appears in the teaser of the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Last Bat on Earth!", voiced by Diane Delano. Mister Miracle mentions her while he and Batman are chained to a death trap event for charity. After the event, when Mister Miracle brags about his escape, Barda replies, "You know what would be a real miracle? If you would finally clean out the garage," before walking away; to which Batman responds, "Guess that's one trap you can't escape from." She also has a non-speaking cameo appearance in part 2 of the episode "The Siege of Starro!", among the heroes possessed by Starro, and later, she appears among the heroes that have already broken free of Starro's mind control.
- Big Barda appears in the animated film Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, voiced by Julianne Grossman. She retains her characteristic muscular physique in her design, albeit less bulky and more slender, with softened and more feminine facial features. As the former captain of Granny Goodness' Furies, Barda assists Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman in their mission to rescue Supergirl from Darkseid's brainwashing on Apokolips.
- A statue of Big Barda is present at the Hall of Justice stage in Injustice: Gods Among Us.
- Big Barda appears in the online video game DC Universe Online in the DLC trilogy 'Halls of Power.' In the DLC, Barda and Mister Miracle lead the new heroes (players) to the Necropolis to gather Old Gods relics before Darkseid does.
- Big Barda was the 76th issue in the DC Comics Super Hero Collection.
- Greenberger, Robert (2008). "Big Barda". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. London: Dorling Kindersley. p. 47. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5.
- Ro, Ronin (July 2004). Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the American Comic Book Revolution. Bloomsbury. ISBN 1-58234-345-4.
- "The Jack F.A.Q.". Povonline.com. Archived from the original on 17 December 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-15.
- Frankenhoff, Brent (2011). Comics Buyer's Guide Presents: 100 Sexiest Women in Comics. Krause Publications. p. 49. ISBN 1-4402-2988-0.
- Wallace, Dan (2008). "Female Furies". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 120. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. OCLC 213309017.
- Mister Miracle #9 (September 1972)
- Mister Miracle #4 (September/October 1971)
- Mister Miracle #14 (July 1, 1973)
- Mister Miracle #18 (February/March 1974)
- Mister Miracle vol. 2, #1 (January 1989)
- Justice League International #7 (November 1987); Justice League America #28 (July 1989)
- Justice League America vol. 2, #37-40 (April–July 1990)
- Mister Miracle vol. 2, #28 (June 1991)
- Mister Miracle vol. 3, #1-2 (April–May 1996)
- Mister Miracle vol. 3, #4-5 (June–July 1996)
- JLA #17 (April 1998)
- JLA #41 (May 2000)
- Orion #25 (June 2002)
- Superman/Batman #11-12 (August–September 2004)
- Birds of Prey #100 (January 2007)
- Final Crisis #7 (March 2009)
- Earth 2 #11
- "The Multiversity Guidebook" (Jan. 2015)
- Beatty, Scott (November 2002). JLA: The Ultimate Guide to the Justice League of America. Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0-7513-4798-1.
- Harvey, James (July 1, 2010). "Trade Ad for Upcoming Superman/Batman: Apocalypse Animated Feature Title". World's Finest Online. Archived from the original on 10 July 2010. Retrieved 2010-07-02.
- Harvey, James (September 16, 2010). "Animated 'Superman/Batman: Apocalypse' Feature Cast and Crew Details". World's Finest Online. Retrieved 2010-09-16.
- Big Barda at the DC Database Project
- Big Barda at Cosmic Teams
- A Woman of Valor - An appreciation of Barda by novelist Michael Chabon