Friday, October 26, 2007

Home Is Where The Heart Was

If you haven't read "The Death of the New Gods" yet, then you may want to wait until you do to read this.

That said,

I am so glad Barda got to die in her kitchen.

Raised in the cruel environment of Apokolips, poor Barda didn't grow up with the same secure home that so many of us Earthlings take for granted. She grew up in strife, trained from birth for combat, violence, killing. But, she got to leave all that behind and come to Earth to make a new home for herself with the person she loved.

I remember her most from her series with Mister Miracle, where they were living in, mm, Vermont, I believe it was. One of the running comedy bits was that Barda's upbringing hadn't really prepared her well for the kind of domestic life she had chosen for herself. But Barda strove to be more than just the killing machine she was raised to be; she worked had to be a respected costumed adventurer in her own right, and good partner with her husband, in both their professional and homemaking goals. When Barda finally had a home, she didn't take it for granted, and sought to make the most of it.

How I used to chuckle at Barda padding around the house in bunny slippers screaming at Scott on the phone about his needing to come home for dinner! You could take the girl out of Apokolips, but not Apokolips out of the girl. But she always remembered what sometimes seemed to slip Scott's mind: how important and special it was for them to have a home together and to make that a priority in their lives. I was glad to see she remained in character in her final story: Barda was concerned about getting home to prepare for their guests but Scott was focused on doing some crimestopping.

I know a lot of readers, particular female ones, may have seen Barda as a role model of the tough warrior woman. She was. But it was always pretty clear in most stories that Barda saw herself as much more than that; indeed, she never would have left Apokolips if she hadn't. She saw herself as a well rounded person who may have fought for a living, but who lived for her home life, not for fighting.

Her home life was her focus. Do you know where the word "focus" comes from, by the way? It's the Latin word for "hearth", the kitchen fireplace where meals were prepared and shared, in that most intimate of family traditions, the family meal. Barda sought to put hearth and home at the focus of her life, and while she was never a whiz at cooking (!), that was never the point.

Bored readers like us dream us of grand battles and grander deaths. But Barda dreamt of a quiet life at home. And, while, having your heart ripped out isn't a completely, er, peaceful way to go, at least her death wasn't a battle. At least her death was at home. At least it wasn't a titanic gritty slugfest rendered in detail for our prurient amusement.

You may think you deserved for her to die to differently, but I think she deserved to die in her kitchen, in the home that she worked so hard for and meant so much to her.

28 comments:

Brushwood said...

If the Seven Soldiers series is anything to go on, the New Gods are only mostly dead, their souls trapped in dysfunctional mortal shells. An event for which Metron tried to prepare Shilo Norman.

ticknart said...

I don't mind that she died in the kitchen, but I wish she had the opportunity to defend the home she loved (because she would defend it with her life) and I wish that we had gotten to see it.

Zaratustra said...

Brushwood: except Grant Morrison wrote it and so people will try to ignore the stuff as much as possible.

tavella said...

It's possible to honor Barda's fondness for her home without dumping her body in the kitchen without a fight, just to piss Scott Free off. True, it could have been worse, past writers have had her mind controlled into doing porn movies, so Tigra'ing her wouldn't have been a surprise, but "less lame than it could have been" is not really an endorsement.

However, I can't in general bring myself to care much, because Death of the New Gods is such a pit of stupid. Either the deaths mean nothing because it's all a pretense prior to them coming back in January, or they trashed an entire line of Kirby characters because they were too dim to do anything interesting with them.

Derek said...

I must be reading the comics wrong, or something. Because so far, from what I've read, every New God that died did so rather pathetically.

Except Knockout, I guess. She got a few snippets of dialogue before she was effortlessly killed off panel. Was her death "just to piss off" Scandal Savage?

I'm thinking this is all leading up to the New Gods merging with the Source Wall and being able to exist in all universes at once. That way, the main DCU won't be unduly warped by the presence of overpowered Kirby creations, and Barda and Scott can choose to remain on Earth-52 (that's the main one, right? Or is it Earth-1?)

Jon Hex said...

-derek
The main one is called New Earth, no number.

Derek said...

Oh, okay. Thanks, Jon.

farsider said...

to jon hex,

which earth are we on?

thanks

whifflebat said...

I wasn't really offended with Barda dying in the kitchen...didn't even occur to me. People die in all manner of unexpected ways and places, and very few of them get to chose those circumstances. Ted Kord certainly didn't. I wouldn't say that his death was any more heroic than Barda's, but it probably is more permanent. Comic-book wise, at least.

Barda may have chosen to go another way, in battle, but that's not this story. I'll reserve judgement for a few more issues, till we see where this is really going. I agree that this probably isn't the end of the New Gods story, and somewhere along the way we will see a "5th World" series.

suedenim said...

Broadly speaking, I think the point of the "New Gods Killer" is that he/she/they can kill people like Barda and Knockout that easily. I.e., the staging is meant not to make the "killer" look scary, not to lower the status of the victims.

(My suspicion, by the way, is that nobody's *actually* dying, and that something along the lines of Derek's suggestion is happening.)

All that aside, Scipio has a typically great evaluation of Barda here. In a way, Barda's true victory over her Apokoliptian upbringing, the real revenge against Darkseid and Granny Goodness, would be not to defeat them in battle, but to have a happy, quiet, loving home with her husband, a bunch of kids and puppies and kitties and bunny slippers. THAT is the sort of thing Darkseid can't even comprehend, much less defeat.

Jake said...

Well, Barda looks like she was holding her Mega Rod, so presumably she at least sensed that someone was there and was turning to fight them when she was killed.

That or she took mashing potatoes incredibly seriously.

Jacob T. Levy said...

Maybe no one else will use the Seven Soldiers stuff-- but I presume that Death/ NG is leading right into Final Crisis, which Morrison himself is writing, so I'd bet on the 7S rules still being relevant.

The Fortress Keeper said...

My main regret about Barda's death is that Kirby modeled the Frees' relationship after his own long-lived marriage.

It represented a piece of Kirby's life, immortalized in comics form.

So, to hear she was katma-ed in the kitchen kinda sucked, but that's the way it goes in a work-for-hire universe.

No wonder few creators bother to come up with new characters these days.

John Foley said...

You obviously hate women.

Scipio said...

LOL, that's one theory, John!

Anonymous said...

Didio killing off Kirby creations is just par for his course. He might as well kill them off, because he'd just end up replacing them anyway.

Get ready for phase two: the Return of Big Barda! This time, it's a black, lesbian, legally-blind paraplegic who receives godhood after years of being a penpal with Granny Goodness... (Based on Didio's track record, of course.)

Scipio said...

Interesting. So, you think they are going to be re-imagined, with new bodies/looks? Hm.

Grebok said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Scip. Suedenim too. And I loved Barda a lot more than these 11th hour sycophants did.

I find people who are most critical of writer's decisions often don't understand writing.

Or how little DiDio actually has to do with reimagining anything. That's like blaming the General Manager for the Coaches decisions.

KingAndy said...

"Barda was concerned about getting home to prepare for their guests but Scott was focused on doing some crimestopping."

Just for the record - according to these scans it's Barda objecting to the burglars and Scott who wants to get home for dinner: http://community.livejournal.com/scans_daily/4316619.html?#cutid1

Anonymous said...

You make some good points, but it still bugs me quite a bit that she died off-panel. Seems like she deserved more.

Scipio said...

King Andy; I am so VERY wrong in that; thanks for correcting me. I was obviously allowing my past understanding of Barda to color my memory. I hope it doesn't completely undercut my argument!

As for her dying off-panel... I see the point, but isn't that how most of the New Gods are dying?

Anonymous said...

"Or how little DiDio actually has to do with reimagining anything. That's like blaming the General Manager for the Coaches decisions."

Bad analogy. Instead, it would be like blaming the General Manager for personnel decisions. Oh wait, that's his job.

Do you seriously believe that characters can be revamped or killed WITHOUT Didio's say-so?

bram said...

"More than that, Barda! Living, or dead...you and I are proof to all of Apokolips...that it can fall!!"
Scott Free, Mister Miracle #7, series one.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Scipio. I have been a huge Barda fan from the time she first appeared. I am upset that she got killed off so cavalierly but your post let me reconsider it.

Anonymous said...

"I hope it doesn't completely undercut my argument!"

You don't really HAVE arguments to overcome, you just regurgitate whatever DC's shoved down your throat.

Sloth said...

DC recently announced the 5th World relaunch of the New Gods.

Rev. O.J. Flow said...

I think it's funny, as a figure collector, that DC Direct FINALLY got around to doing some kickass New Gods figures based of the art designs of Jack Kirby (coming April 2008), and they're somehow killing off the characters we know and love. HUH???

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