art by Stephane Roux
|First appearance||Mister Miracle vol. 1 #4,
|Created by||Jack Kirby (writer & artist)|
|In story information|
|Alter ego||Barda Free|
|Place of origin||Apokolips|
|Team affiliations||New Gods
Birds of Prey
|Abilities||Superhuman strength, stamina, durability, and reflexes. Typically carries an Omega Rod and comes with Aero-Disks.|
Big Barda is a fictional superheroine published by DC Comics. She first appeared in Mister Miracle vol. 1 #4 (October, 1971), and was created by Jack Kirby.
In a reversal of the stereotype associated with female characters at the time of her creation, Barda is physically more powerful than her husband and very protective of him. She is more than willing to use her strength in battle.
Jack Kirby based Barda’s physical appearance on Lainie Kazan, “who had recently appeared topless in [an issue of] Playboy.” Mark Evanier, Kirby’s assistant during the Fourth World comics, has stated: “Jack based some of his characters (not all) on people in his life or in the news…. Big Barda’s roots are not in doubt. The visual came about shortly after songstress Lainie Kazan posed for Playboy…and the characterization between Scott ‘Mister Miracle’ Free and Barda was based largely â€” though with tongue in cheek â€” on the interplay Jack and his wife Roz. Of course, the whole ‘escape artist’ theme was inspired by an earlier career of writer-artist Jim Steranko.” 
Barda was born of the race of New Gods 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 is a product of Granny Goodness’ Home for Orphaned Youth. Granny’s motto is “Die for Darkseid” (the planet’s evil ruler). Granny grooms 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, falls in love.
Barda risks her own safety to work with the rebel cell lead by the New God Himon. Both of them help Scott escape from Apokolips. Eventually, Barda turns her back on Granny, and comes to Earth herself. (Mister Miracle vol. 1 #4, 1971) Scott has become an escape artist called Mister Miracle, and is teamed with Oberon, his diminutive manager. Scott and Barda are married by Scott’s father, the Highfather of New Genesis. (Mister Miracle vol. 1 #18)
For a number of years, Barda follows Scott and Oberon on tour. Eventually they retire as superheroes and move to Bailey, New Hampshire. (Mister Miracle vol. 2 #1) However, despite their best attempts, a normal life eludes them. Disasters plague them; Barda, Scott, and Oberon leave Bailey and move to a loft in Greenwich Village, New York City. Barda forms a defense-training program for women called the New Female Furies. During this time, Barda and Superman are captured and mind-controlled by Sleez, who plans to force the two to perform in an adult film. At the last moment they are rescued by Mr. Miracle. (Action Comics #592-593)
Though naive regarding Earth customs, Barda relishes her roles of wife and housekeeper. However, when duty calls she never hesitates to assume the posture of a warrior, and when Scott joins the Justice League, Barda participates in several missions. (Justice League America #7, 28) In one instance, while training Fire, her weapon, the Mega-Rod is stolen from her car. With the assistance of other League members, she gets it back but not before many innocent people are killed by its wielder who was unable to resist the corrupting influence of the Apokoliptian technology. Barda also leads a JLA mission to rescue her husband after he is lost in space. The mission is a result of Manga Khan selling Scott to Granny Goodness. Her teammates include Martian Manhunter, Rocket Red, and G’nort. In an attempt to dissuade their successful pursuit, Manga Khan hires Lobo, paying him in dolphin feed, to kill them. He almost does, before Barda teleports 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 leave Earth for New Genesis. (Mr. Miracle, v.2 #28) However, they soon return to Earth (Mister Miracle vol. 3 #1-2) and take up temporary residence aboard the Justice League Refuge. During this period, the couple separate briefly due to Scott’s lack of consideration for her feelings. (Mister Miracle vol. 3 #4-5)
Barda has served as a member of the JLA in her own right: at Takion’s order, she and fellow New God Orion are sent as agents of New Genesis to serve on the team. Takion predicts that the Earth faces a grave threat. (JLA #17) 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, enslaves the JLA as part of a bluff. The League works for days, turning the planet into a giant teleportation beam. The aliens are sent off to the prison planet of Takron-Galtos, which Barda had mentioned several times during the ordeal. In another instance, Barda is badly wounded fighting the Queen Bee, a member of the newly reformed Injustice League. Once Mageddon is defeated, Barda and Orion resign from the JLA. (JLA #41)
Barda and Scott currently reside in the suburbs of Connecticut and are active adventurers. (Orion #25) Barda never hesitates to lend a hand to her friends when her power and expertise are needed.
Barda accompanies Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman to Apokolips to rescue Supergirl from Darkseid’s clutches (Superman/Batman #11, 12), and accepts an invitation from Oracle to become the heavy-hitter on the Birds of Prey. (Birds of Prey #100)
A similar-looking character named Little Barda appeared as a member of the Teen Titans in 52; the character leaves the group in the same issue. (52 #21) Her relationship to Big Barda is unknown, though she escaped from Apokolips with Power Boy.
In a confrontation with the Secret Six, she engages Knockout, another ex-Fury, in hand-to-hand combat. Although the fight is long and continues in the midst of other larger concerns for her team, it ends in a draw.
Big Barda is killed in the first issue of Death of the New Gods; her funeral occurs in the second issue of the series (Infinity-Man is later revealed as the killer). Zinda Blake, last survivor of the Blackhawk Squadron, places a photo of Barda beside the snapshots of her fallen comrades on a wall of honor in the bar near Edwards Air Force Base, acknowledging her heroic status.
Barda has superhuman strength approaching the level of Superman, endurance, and is virtually indestructible. She can project cosmic energy for destructive blasts, perceive matter and energy on a sub-atomic level, form and manipulate energy constructs, and discharge most forms of energy.
She wields a high tech weapon called a Mega-rod, which produces extremely powerful concussive bursts. She can also summon and uses Aero-disks which allow her to fly, and Apokaliptian armor which augments her already superhuman strength.