Aside from “Who would win in a fight?” nothing gets comic fans more heated than the question of whether or not superheroes should marry. In this mini-feature, former Bride Rebecca Henely-Weiss and her Maid of Honor Kayleigh Hearn take a trip down memory lane to the most significant times comic companies took the plunge and got their characters hitched! Did we like the couple? Did we like the dress? And more importantly … why did (or didn’t) the marriage last? Today we look at the wedding of Mister Miracle and Big Barda …
The Couple: Big Barda and Scott Free
The Issue: Mister Miracle #18
Published: March 1974
Today: Still married.
Rebecca: In the course of this series, we’ve been running into our share of superhero wedding issues where the ceremony itself takes up only the barest part of the issue. Unfortunately, Mister Miracle #18—where Scott Free marries his long-time love interest Big Barda—is one of those. Still, as one of the few comic book couples that have managed to make a marriage work for decades, we thought they were still worth a look.
Kayleigh: Maybe the secret to a long-lasting comic book marriage was just “be drawn by Jack Kirby”? Like Sue and Reed, Scott and Barda’s relationship seems to be pretty indestructible; it helps that Barda and Scott feel like they were made for each other (literally, of course). They complement each other’s personalities, character designs, and superheroic skill sets perfectly, so why split them up when they’re better together?
Rebecca: Jack Kirby’s Fourth World for DC is one of those complicated, long-form, kind of confusing-sounding storylines that many fans may know more by reputation than first-hand experience. Granted, Scott and Barda have had a full life in the DC universe since then, not only appearing in comics like Justice League and Birds of Prey, but also making cameos in various DC animated series and films. I’ve never taken the deep dive into the Fourth World that I know I probably deserve to give it one day, but I enjoyed this one a lot.
Kayleigh: Everything I know about Mister Miracle and the New Gods comes from that one early issue of Sandman and the Superman: The Animated Series two-parter where Darkseid wastes Dan Turpin. But then, I definitely heard Ed Asner’s voice as Granny Goodness when I read her scenes, so maybe that left a bigger impression than I realized. I’ve liked every glimpse I’ve had of Big Barda, one of the few big, brawling female superheroes out there, and pictures of Barda carrying Scott around like a rag doll are very, very cute.
Rebecca: We open on Mister Miracle planning an escape act from a tube full of water surrounded nitroglycerine, but the session is foiled by the nefarious Virman Vundabar, who shoots some projectiles into the pit, causing an amazing “TSKAASH!” explosion. Mister Miracle manages to tunnel away in time with Barda, and the near-death experience makes them realize their love for each other, as well as decide to get married right away. An attack from Granny Goodness involves strapping Scott, Barda, Oberon and Shilo Norman to a ridiculously wonderful bomb clock; however, Orion and Light-Ray come to rescue them. The story ends with Scott and Barda marrying via touching the Highfather’s Wonder Staff (insert immature chuckle here), and then fleeing as Darkseid arrives, who is just happy he made their special day suck a bit.
As someone who just learned the difference between New Genesis and Apokolips in writing this review, I absolutely know I’m not getting the full impact of this. Mister Miracle and Barda have a pretty fun and progressive-for-their-time dynamic, with Scott being the clever man who can wriggle his way out of any situation while Barda prefers kicking its butt. They seem like a couple in love (Kirby apparently based Barda in part on his wife), but you don’t really get to know them in this issue. Also, it’s still pretty weird to me that when Mister Miracle confesses his love Big Barda basically says, “Wow, me too!” and then they’re engaged. (Granted, my immediate response to my own proposal was a flabbergasted “What brought this on?” so I can’t be too hard on Barda.)
Kayleigh: This is the second DC wedding issue in a row where the couple declares their love for the first time and then immediately gets married, but it felt somewhat more appropriate here, since if you’re constantly performing death-defying stunts or getting strapped to Bomb Clocks you maybe don’t want to waste time. That Bomb Clock, though! God, I cackled at that thing. Get ready, “Jack Kirby was pretty great” is my scalding hot take of this article. Can you handle my truth, comics Twitter?!
Rebecca: As we said before, this isn’t really much of a wedding comic. No dress in this one. No big crowd full of cameos from other comics. Still, Kayleigh pointed out in our spotlight on Donna Troy/Terry Long that it was frustrating how Donna was from a pre-Christian culture but had a typical Christian wedding. I actually did appreciate how this comic implied the New Gods do have their own unique wedding rituals. It’s something I’d like to see more often in mainstream comics.
Kayleigh: I was let down by Barda’s brown sackcloth dress, not going to lie. She doesn’t really strike me as the veil type, but come on, Kirby, where’s the utterly bonkers 8-feet-tall wedding headdress? At least Scott kept the mask off for the kiss. Their wedding vows were simple but very powerful. “I am eternal with Barda” just sounds beautiful, doesn’t it?
Rebecca: There were a lot of parts that made me laugh out loud, even if I’m unsure whether those laughs were intentional—like the panel of three projectiles zooming into a pit full of nitro next to a sign that reads “DANGER HIGH EXPLOSIVE IN PIT,” Mister Miracle defeating a guy by screaming at him through a microphone or him calling Granny Goodness an “armored old war-wagon.” Jack Kirby’s insult game was on-point. I definitely don’t mind this being my first introduction to the Fourth World/New Gods, even if I wish I had a better introduction to the main pairing.
Kayleigh: I loved that Darkseid at the end of the issue was basically Lauren Hutton in Once Bitten, when she’s too late to stop her would-be virgin sacrifice from having sex but still gets in a smug zinger: “But you didn’t have time to enjoy it!”
Rebecca: So, between this comic and our first wedding issue with Susan Storm and Reed Richards, we’ve read two Jack Kirby-drawn (and, knowing the Marvel method, likely Kirby-plotted) wedding issues. Both of them were wedding issues that didn’t focus very much on the “wedding” part, and yet they both led to two of the longest-lasting marriages in comics. I’m not sure if that’s because Kirby had a particular magic touch or because the marriages occurred so early on in the mythos that they became inseparable from the characters, but it may go to show that, as in real life, the ceremony is less important than everything that comes before and after … and I should really look into that for this couple.
Kayleigh: Mister Miracle #18 was the end of the series for Kirby, and it does feel like the closing of the book: Scott and Barda marry, say goodbye to Oberon and Shilo, and narrowly escape Darkseid. So while the impact for us probably isn’t as great as it would be if we’d read the previous 17 issues (it feels a bit like we quietly crashed the wedding right at the vows ceremony and are hoping nobody noticed), it left me with warm feelings toward the central couple and a renewed appreciation for Jack Kirby’s unmatched creativity. Viva Scott and Barda!