We're back with another Relationship Roundup after a brief hiatus. We’re returning a little bit too late for Valentine's Day, but that's all right, we don't need a holiday to talk about love and superheroes.
This month, we're jumping right back into the thick of things and talking about a couple you may have heard a thing or two about lately. After all, they just won a couple Eisners and had a trade paperback for their universally acclaimed series hit the shelves not long ago. Scott Free, the cunning hero-slash-escape artist known as Mister Miracle, and his wife, Big Barda, went from semi-obscure to A-listers practically overnight with Tom King and Mitch Gerads' twelve issue story and with good reason—they're one of the most enduring love stories in the DC Universe. They’re also, depending on how familiar you are with the work of Jack Kirby, one of the most bizarre. But don't panic, that's why I'm here.
To really understand Scott and Barda, you need to understand something called the Fourth World. This is the catch-all name for the dimension that houses planets like New Genesis and Apokolips along with the "New Gods" that live on them. You know Darkseid? He's a New God.
Anyway, here's the extremely abridged version of events to catch you up to speed. New Genesis and Apokolips have been at war with one another for...well, basically forever. At least, until Darkseid and the ruler of New Genesis, Highfather, came to a sort of truce. There would be a ceasefire, and in order to ensure the agreement held, both Darkseid and Highfather would each offer up a son to the other ruler to be raised on their planet. This meant Darkseid's son, Orion, was given to Highfather on New Genesis, and Highfather's son, Scott, was given to Darkseid on Apokolips. Kind of a raw deal for Scott, all things considered, but no one bothered to give him a choice in the matter.
Life on Apokolips was, unsurprisingly, miserable. Scott wasn't cared for by Darkseid himself, but given to Granny Goodness, one of Apokolips' master torturers, where he was subjected to a basically endless amount of cruelty day in and day out. But he wasn't alone. Barda, an Apokolips native and one of Granny's "Female Furies" in training, was stuck enduring the endless sadism right alongside him.
Maybe "stuck in a never-ending cycle of torture and pain" isn't the most traditional romantic meetcute, but apparently it worked for them. Scott and Barda grew up and fell in love, despite their horrific circumstances, and planned to make their escape from the Fourth World all together.
The thing about Scott and Barda's love story isn't how unlikely it was, it's how perfect it wound up being for both of them. They eventually found their way to Earth (which, wound up nullifying the truce and reigniting the war, but that's a whole other story) to live as part-time superheroes in Los Angeles where they were married, settled down and eventually even had a child.
All told, it's a pretty mundane story for two New Gods, and that's why it works. Neither of them ever asked to be put into the situations they were born into, they never got much of a choice when it came to their families or their histories. But they did get to choose each other and how their lives together would proceed from there. It's almost a Romeo and Juliet story, without the suicide and tragedy at the end. Scott and Barda are two people who should have never worked out, but inexplicably did, and are very much the better for it.
They may be two insanely powerful extradimensional heroes, but the thing that makes Scott and Barda so lovable is just how normal they are. They live in a condo, they deal with cooking dinner and paying bills, they work for their money and have friends over to visit. In more ways than one, these two gods are both more normal than someone totally human like Batman has ever been.
They're so normal that we discovered they work even better in a slice-of-life comic than a superhero story. At least when it’s in the hands of King and Gerads.
Of course, Scott and Barda's lives weren't all sunshine and happiness after they came to Earth and settled down. Apokolips and New Genesis didn't just forget them and now, try as they might to live normal lives, every so often they get pulled back into the war they tried to abandon. Needless to say, getting swept back up in the drama of their pasts is never fun for them, but it does serve to make their whole dynamic even more interesting. The way they're able to maintain their totally regular, everyday married relationship, even when they're being forced to lead armies and fight demons and grapple with convoluted political plots on alien worlds. It just works. It's weird and complicated and probably shouldn't work, but it does. And that's why we love them, and, really, why they love each other.
Meg Downey covers movies, TV and comics for DCComics.com, and writes two monthly columns for the site, "Gotham Gazette" and "Relationship Roundup." You can follow her on Twitter at @rustypolished. For more from Meg on Scott and Barda, read her series of posts on Mister Miracle.