Big Barda and Mister Miracle are hands down my favourite couple in comics, yet as I sit down to write about why, the words escape me. If I think too much about it, I get misty eyes. They’re the best example of a monogamous relationship I’ve ever seen.
Mister Miracle and Big Barda both came from the mind of Jack Kirby as part of his legendary Fourth World Saga for D.C. Comics. The New God known as Scott Free is High Father’s son, given to Darkseid in exchange for Darkseid’s own, Orion, in an attempt to broker peace between their two warring worlds. Scott grows up on the war world Apokolips, raised by part torturer, part general, part mother figure Granny Goodness, whose main goal is to torture the children of Apokolips until they become her perfect soldiers for the armies of Apokolips. This is where Scott first meets Barda: Barda is the fiercest warrior on Apokolips, having risen through the ranks at Granny Goodness’s orphanage to become the leader of the Female Furies, the elite warriors of Apokolips.
Throughout their shared adolescence in The Pit, Barda often caught Scott in his escape attempts, but would let him go and, later, help him escape to Earth despite the severe punishment. She, too, eventually escapes to Earth, and sticks around Scott, joining him in battle and showbiz. From here, their relationship blossoms—Scott is the only person who’s shown Barda any semblance of true compassion and for the first time they’re able to spend time alone together. Within a few issues, they’re getting married.
Throughout their almost fifty years together, since their marriage in issue #18 of Kirby’s run of Mister Miracle, I have been floored by the love and respect they have for one another. They check off every single box that goes with healthy and stable relationships. Their communication is stellar, due mostly to Barda’s blunt and straightforward personality. She’s a commander and warrior; running away from anything, enemies or emotions, just isn’t her style. It makes a romantic like me tear up, but also get really jealous because I want a giantess to love me that much.
Scott Free, on the other hand, is really, really good at hiding his emotions—he had to be if he wanted to survive living on Apokolips. He goes into professional performance for a reason: he’s got a certain skill set that makes his adoption of the profession from Thaddeus Brown (the original Mister Miracle) very easy. Barda is the one person on all of Apokolips who Scott didn’t have to escape from growing up; she’s one of the only, if not the only, person he trusts for a large part of his life. He showed her compassion—something natural for him—and in return she proves, both to Scott and the reader, that goodness and love—something very unnatural for Barda—can overcome a lifetime of hatred, trauma, and straight up evil. The pair give each other so much meaning in life, and they’ve been through so much together. They are the quintessential ride-or-die couple.
What makes them so different from other couples, to me, is their domesticity. Having a home life is something that is very important to Barda as she has so much of Apokolips to unlearn—and so many years of smooching to catch up on with Scott—and it’s a centrepiece in their story, no matter the run. It’s this sense of domesticity and home life that really attracts the reader to their relationship. It’s so natural and makes the characters more understandable and relatable.
Their home life was something that really came into the light in the eighties with J.M. DeMatteis writing both Justice League International, where Barda and Scott are main characters, and (a little later) a solo Mister Miracle title. He, along with an amazing team of artists, showed the readers a deeper and more intimate look at Mister Miracle, and the sheer intimacy of their moments together is so cute. The page below is one of my favorite pages in comics ever, partially because I too want a big strong wife to throw me over her shoulders, but because, role reversal aside, it’s cute, playful, intimate, and an example of what has been ingrained in my brain as a healthy relationship.
Now let’s talk about Mister Miracle.
Despite the darkness of the current run, King and Gerads are doing a great job of keeping and expanding on the domestic aspects of Barda and Scott’s relationship. Showing us the less cute and more uncomfortable sides to their relationship is only making them even more relatable. Issue five opens with Scott telling Barda he’ll go to war if she tells him to stay, which she dismisses as to not disobey direct orders. Then we get some nice BDSM scenes, with Mister Miracle all tied up followed by the pair trying to spend their last day together as if it was their honeymoon. It’s cute, it’s sad, it’s romantic. In the previous issue Scott had been sentenced to death by Orion, who is now Highfather. His literal last wish before Orion kills him is to be tied up by his wife—that’s some sexy affirmation that Scott doesn’t have to worry about escaping when Barda is the one in control—and then take her out for a romantic day. At the end of the issue Barda kills the guards sent to take Scott to his death, telling him to stay, and he does.
So they go to war with Orion to fight for their life together, talking about redoing their condo and smashing in faces. Barda tells Scott she’s pregnant (after smashing in Lightray’s head) and then this happens and I’m crying.
I believe you, Scott Free. But why might Barda not? Scott, already recovering from a failed suicide attempt, has proven on multiple occasions that he is ready to die. His willingness to go along with his execution before Barda tells him to stay is not only an act of submission, but one of love. If he were to escape his execution, no matter what, Barda would be involved and possibly killed, and that’s not what he wants. He’ll only live for her, but only if she wants him to. He can’t make the same decision for her, so Scott gives Barda the chance to escape him, and she does what she’s done before and heads into the mouth of the shark with Mister Miracle to beat it to death from the inside out.
This is why I get so emotional. After all they have been through in their forty-some years, they’ll still go to war for each other. I’m getting teary just thinking about it right now. Their love is unconditional, whether they’re fighting together through demons/villians or bickering about not having enough time to spend together. They’re always going to be in the other’s corner; to me, that’s what makes them comic’s best couple.