Jack Kirby’s original plan for Big Barda and the Female Furies was a dedicated comic series based on a spy storyline.
Kirby adapted his plans, leading to Barda debuting in “Mister Miracle” #4 instead.
Barda and Mister Miracle’s marriage then marked the original conclusion of Kirby’s Fourth World Saga.

Welcome to the 930th installment of Comic Book Legends Revealed, a column where we examine three comic book myths, rumors and legends and confirm or debunk them. In the first legend of this installment, we discover the surprising original plans that Jack Kirby had for Big Barda.

Comic books, and really, all creative works when you’re dealing with a shared universe of characters, is often an example of having to fit an idea that you have into the greater framework of a comic book “universe.” Jack Kirby is a perfect example of a brilliant comic book creator who was constantly having to adapt to whatever the situation was in his career. One of the most famous examples of this is Kirby’s iconic Fourth World characters, who Kirby initially created while still working for Marvel. As I noted in an old Comic Book Legends Revealed, Kirby was fine with using these new characters at Marvel, but he wanted a special deal from Marvel for the use of these new characters. He was no longer willing to, in effect, just “give” them new characters. The deal was unable to be worked out, and so Kirby brought the characters to DC, instead. True, DC basically got the characters for “free,” as well, but at that point in his career, it was more of a principle thing for Kirby to no longer be willing to work for Marvel (of course, DC was also a disappointing experience, but that’s a story for another day, or more specifically, a different Comic Book Legends Revealed).

In a similar situation, Jack Kirby created Black Panther and the Inhumans as characters who would launch in their own series, but since Marvel couldn’t find the room for two new series in 1966 (Marvel was still constrained by a deal it had cut with its distributor to only put out a specific number of comic book titles every month, which is why it had so many comic book titles that were “split” between multiple heroes), so Kirby was forced to adapt his plans, and instead introduce both the Inhumans and Black Panther into the pages of Fantastic Four. Interestingly, a similar thing happened for Kirby and the character of Big Barda! See what Kirby’s original plans were for Big Barda and the Female Furies!


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How did Big Barda make her comic book debut?

In Mister Miracle #4 (by Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta), an issue that MIGHT have played a role in Kirby’s New Gods comic book titles being called the “Fourth World”, Big Barda shows up on Earth…

Barda was on the run from Apokolips (which is where Scott “Mister Miracle” Free was raised, before he escaped, as well), where she had been the leader of the Female Furies…

Barda plans on sticking around, but both Scott and his assistant, Oberon, are a bit wary about it…

But then she shows what she looks like under her armor and neither of them have the same objection anymore…

The acclaimed novelist Michael Chabon wrote an amazing appreciation post of Barda for Allure twenty years ago this month. I’ll share a bit from it:

The intricate pop-Zoroastrian theology of the comic books that Jack Kirby drew at DC Comics in the early seventies (in which Mister Miracle, “Super Escape Artist,” figured prominently) is wonderful, nutty, and hard to summarize. For now I’ll just say that Big Barda, commander of the Female Fury Batallion, was born and reared for a life of perpetual combat, on a world called Apokolips, by a Dickensian harridan with the cruel-irony name of Granny Goodness. She dressed in elaborate armor of dark blue scale mail with a vaguely pharaonic battle helmet, and carried a fearsome chunk of hardware, admittedly somewhat ambiguous from the Freudian point of view, called a Mega-Rod. As for her eponymous immensity, it was not merely physical; everything she did partook of the bigness that was the essence of her character. She spoke in exclamations and displayed Rabelaisian appetites for food and drink. She was brusque, sardonic, hot-tempered, and did not endure patiently the doubts and tergiversations of anyone less intelligent or quick to seize the moment than herself. And she was, to my knowledge, the first super-heroine in the history of comic books whose personal courage, moral integrity, and astute intelligence, though they pervaded all her actions, were most joyfully expressed through her willingness, when necessary, to kick ass.

Barda, naturally, becomes Scott’s main love interest in the series. In fact, when Kirby originally drew the Fourth World Saga to a close in the early 1970s, Kirby used the wedding of Scott and Barda as the way that the storyline came to a close (for a time, of course). What, though, was Kirby’s ORIGINAL plan for Big Barda and the Female Furies?


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What were Jack Kirby’s original plans for Big Barda?

At the wonderful Jack Kirby Museum website, Rand Hoppe shared the original pitch that Kirby created for a comic book that would have been called Big Barda and Her Female Furies, and it is AMAZING…

In a further page from the pitch, the series appeared to have been a spy series, with Barda and her Female Furies being based on some mysterious Beauty Rock Island that covers up their spy business…

Obviously, either the pitch was turned down, or Kirby himself decided to move on from it, and he instead just worked the characters (including The Lump) into the pages of his Mister Miracle series.

Wow, imagine how different things would be if Barda debuted in her own distinctive comic book series!

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Feel free to send suggestions for future comic legends to me at either cronb01@aol.com or brianc@cbr.com.

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