Big Barda. If there is MORE woman in comics, I can’t think of her. I’m not all that familiar with the character in details. Or, let’s say if I was, I don’t have the memory that I use to. I know the basics… She’s Mr. Miracle’s main squeeze, she can kick most anyone’s butt, and she was created by Jack Kirby. And… if she was created by Jack Kirby, that causes an instant woosh of shimmering metal, inkblack power dots and really thick fingers.
And now we have Chad’s version.
I like that Chad make’s no pretention in his ability at illustration.
Instead of a 3/4 view with photoshoped lensflares, we get what a straight on view that is reminiscent of the a fertility statue I recall from my art history books. If it’s not obvious, I picked to review this design because I think it’s one of the best that has been done. I love clean simple lines, and this design has it in spades. But let’s start with the best and work our way around. I LOVE the black arm bands and leg bands that can get “lost” in her waves of flowing hair. A very neat trick that isn’t overdone.
Also, the costume reminds of the motherbox for some reason. (Disclaimer time.. I might assume this design is based on the new Mr. Miracle design? I haven’t read that comic, but just found out it’s not even Scott Free, so it’s not really Mr. Miracle in my mind. Back to the review…) The inclusion of the miniskirt gets a big thumbs up for retrochic. I also think the new face painting would add much interest to talking heads.. when they appear in comics. But IS it face painting or a mask or something else? And working our way around the design.. I’m not sure about the feet. I think she needs souls. And maybe some toe coverings. But then again, it is cool to see painted toes, and if they’re indestructible, yeah, why not go for comfort!
And best of all.. she’ll give the Jack of Hearts a run for one of the toughest costumes to draw. Rock.
When I first saw this design at thumbnail size, I was pretty excited. We all know that Kirby was one of the Great Original Visionaries of American Comics, and that the Fourth World stories were Kirby at his most Kirbyesque. Not many people seem to be able to hone in on that weird Kirby vibe, and it’s sad to see his stuff get slowly homogenized over time. This thumbnail didn’t look like Kirby, but it seems to share in the same essential weirdness. And that is rare and interesting.
But then I clicked on it, and saw the enlarged version. Micro-mini-skirt? Stockings with garters? Headlight boob cups? On Big Barda?
Barda’s not some little club-scene sexpot. Comics are full of those, and I’m not sure we really need another. Barda is one of superherodom’s more realized female characters. She’s more Hestia-played-by-Lucy-Lawless than Circe-played-by-Catharine-Zeta-Jones. I highly recommend Michael Chabon’s excellent ode to Big Barda Woman of Valor. It’s a smart little essay, and an astute articulation of Barda. Some of this character can be seen in the face, which is the best part of the design, but the rest of the design undermines it.
I hadn’t planned on reviewing this design, because I didn’t want to seem to be slamming it. But, the truth is, I’ve thought about it several times since I first saw it. There is something quite arresting going on here. I’d like to applaud the visual sensibility that informs this design, and encourage it to be taken further. Embrace that weirdness. But this design is not right for this character.