Ask anyone who the biggest female superhero in the DC Universe is and they’ll usually tell you it’s Wonder Woman. And in terms of name recognition, they’re right. But in terms of size, attitude, and general bad-ass-ness? That crown might very well go to Big Barda, a prominent member of Jack Kirby’s New Gods.
But don’t take my word for it. Take the word of Cavalier and Clay author Michael Chabon, who typed this ode to Barda, “A Woman of Valor.” Chabon argues that while Wonder Woman exhibits many of the superficial traits of a feminist icon and progressive woman, it’s Barda who grew up under adverse conditions–she was raised to be a fierce warrior for the evil Darkseid–but rebelled against what she knew in her heart was a corrupt and immoral society.
Barda met her soul mate in Scott Free, a.k.a. Mister Miracle, and the two entered a long-term relationship. Barda became both doting lover and aggressive protector of Scott. As Chabon writes, “She was a valkyrie with a brain and an aching heart.”
While Big Barda recently received a Kirby-styled figure in DC Direct New Gods line, the Four Horsemen weren’t going to pass up a chance to give their take on her. There’s also an un-helmeted variant.
Born on the evil, warlike planet Apokolips, Barda was specially trained in all forms of combat by Granny Goddess. However, she fell in love with Scott Free, a child of peaceful New Genesis raised on Apokolips, and used her warrior skills to help him escape to Earth. Barda accompanied Scott, and they married after he assumed the name of Mister Miracle, world’s greatest escape artist. Since then, she has fought evil alongside her husband, both of them serving in the Justice League of America.
Sculpt: I have to remember to ask the Horsemen whether figures with scaled armor, like Aquaman, Deathstroke and Barda, require entirely new tooling for those limbs, or whether the scales are simply added to the existing molds somehow. In any event, Barda’s armor has a lot of detailed scaling, and thanks to excellent paint applications, it comes off looking very good.
The sculpt is based on Kirby’s original design, though it’s been interpreted into the Four Horsemen’s own unique style. In terms of the design of the body and armor, I have no complaints. I do think the DC Direct figure better captured Barda’s facial likeness as Kirby drew her, but since DCUC isn’t intended to be an artist-specific line, that’s not a major problem.
No, the real problem is the size of the figure itself. Her name’s Big Barda. While the DC Comics Encyclopedia lists her as being 6’2″ tall–two inches taller than her beloved Scott Free–she’s not only shorter than the Mister Miracle figure, she’s also smaller. Barda’s “bigness” lies in her immense strength and full-figured proportions, but the DCUC Barda is as slender as Wonder Woman–or maybe even Harley Quinn.
I suspect either something went wrong in production or, more likely, the budget just wasn’t there to make a properly-sized Big Barda. There just doesn’t appear to be much room for subtle size variation in DCUC yet, so in order to get a Barda, we have to settle for one made from the existing molds, which means she’s just not going to be the “Big” Barda we really wanted.
All that said, the sculpt is still quite excellent and makes up a lot of the ground lost due to the scale issues. Also note, Barda suffers from the “over-starched cape” syndrome, though it’s still more pliable than the Eradicator‘s cape, which remains the standard for capes that can hammer nails.
Plastic & Paint: Another area where this figure excels. The paint and wash on the scales of the armor is very well done, and an example of just how good this line can be.
The rest of the paint applications are strong, with one exception: I don’t understand why the “skirt” and the breastplate are gold, while the helmet has a yellow trim. It should all be one color or the other. I don’t actually have a preference either way, I just wish it had all been the same color instead of splitting the difference.
Articulation: Barda has the standard DCUC articulation. Her ball jointed neck is very limited, however, due to the huge helmet.
Accessories: Aside from her Atom Smasher part, Barda comes with her Mega-rod, an Apokoliptian weapon that can figure concussive blasts in the comics. It’s often depicted as a big, simple cylinder with maybe a few bits of tech on it. I have to be honest, this is one of the rare times when I think the Horsemen’s more detailed work might not have been the best way to go…the DCUC Mega-rod is just a bit…suggestive. (Insert your own joke about Mister Miracle here.) But who knows, maybe that was Kirby’s little in-joke to begin with.
Quality Control: I had no problems with my Barda.
If Barda were half an inch taller and a bit broader, she’d probably be close to a 5-star rating–the sculpt and paint work are that good (aside from the helmet trim). I’m happy to have a DCUC version of her, but I hope we get a larger one down the line.