Hey, can I tell you a love story?
It's a good one, I promise. It's actually, maybe, not even really a love story. Not how you're thinking, anyway. It's only one in the sense that it's about two people who love each other.
Scott Free and Big Barda have been together for a really, really long time. I mean that both in the narrative sense, but also in the real life sense. Jack Kirby created them back in the ’70s. That means they've at least been in one another's orbit for over forty years. That's a pretty long time to exist with another person, fictional or otherwise.
When Scott was given up to Apokolips against his will, he was all but sentenced to death—an eternity of torture and horror and agony. He didn't have much to look forward to, to say the very least. That is, until Barda.
Mister Miracle might be the god of escape, but Barda? Barda is his skeleton key. Falling in love didn't immediately whisk the two of them off of Apokolips. It didn't save them. Not right away, and not literally. But falling in love did prove that, without a doubt, it's absolutely possible to escape something without actually going anywhere. Escape can be a person as much as it can be an action, a thing as well as an idea, a concept and place.
That's Barda. That's why this is a love story, or, a story about two people who love each other, because sometimes getting out means going further in first, and isn't that what love is at the end of the day? Two people digging in to one another until they find somewhere they can stay forever?
So, Scott escaped Apokolips, and Barda did too. But before that happened, they found escape in each other, and that's the real story. More than any dimension hopping superheroics, more than any war, or treason, or conspiracy. Barda has always been Scott's first and best way out.
Pretty romantic, right? It is, until it's not. Until it's sad and messy and dangerous.
This week, in MISTER MIRACLE #5, that became pretty literal. The walls of Scott and Barda's condo have the blood splatters to prove it. Funky Flashman is dead—or if not dead, very, very hurt—and Scott's execution sentence is belayed, if only temporarily. So that's the good news. The bad news is the fact that now both Scott and Barda are traitors to their people who are essentially out of options. Barda may be Scott's lifeline, even when she doesn't really want to be all the time, but what happens when the person who usually throws you the rope jumps down into the hole with you?
Then again, maybe that doesn't even matter, since the hole is where they both started in the first place.
What I mean to say is, I don't know how Scott is going to escape this one, and I don't know what Barda is going to be able to do to help him, now that she's already stuck her hands in as deep as they can go and came back covered in gore for her efforts.
For all Scott's been ruminating on the nature of God and the self and existence (all those philosophers are real, by the way), I think the real question here is a lot simpler, or at least, a lot more self-contained: If both life and death are traps, what's love? If Scott's the God of Escape and Barda is his way out, what does that make her?
Barda's name might not be in the title, but in a book that's as much about finding meaning and purpose in a world you don't understand as it is about trying to run from the inevitable, I think it'd be reductive to say she's only a supporting character. In fact, it may be Scott's story at the end of the day, but so far, I'd say Big Barda's been the real hero. And if I had to venture a guess, I'd say Scott doesn't mind that one bit.