***SPOILERS ahead for last issue's surprise ending!***
In the wake of Aurelie's murder, something has stirred within Barda. She knows something is fundamentally flawed on Apokolips... and the renegade Scott Free is doing nothing to clear her of these thoughts.
Scott, though, is intent on leaving Apokolips for Earth, to get away from its madness forever. He reminds Barda that they knew one another as children trying to survive Granny Goodness's Terror Orphanage - something she had long forgotten. She relents, and decides to turn the other cheek as he accesses a boom tube to escape. Right as he's about to make his leave, though, two guards show up and catch her in the act of treason.
Naturally, Barda's actions make their way up the chain of command, and she's sentenced to punishment. One of those punishments is to train with Aurelie's tormenter, rapist, and ultimately murderer Willik - something she refuses to tolerate!
In an act of supreme defiance, Barda confesses to both Granny and Darkseid that she and Aurelie were responsible for Rublon's murder, thus ending his Willik's blackmail over her! Barda then prepares for the worst - but is surprised by what happens next...
Female Furies pivots in a new direction with issue four, and indeed to a new protagonist as well. Last issue, a retelling of 1973’s Mister Miracle #9 from Aurelie’s perspective and with a #MeToo twist, ended in tragedy. Aurelie’s death was not something Kirby had really even alluded to in the original comic; in fact she’s a one-off supporting character helping to prop up the backstory of Scott and Barda’s escape from the hellworld of Apokolips. So to turn the focus to that seemingly-forgotten character, and give her an earned backstory and interior life of her own – only to have it cruelly and unexpectedly ended a mere halfway through the series – is a masterstroke in storytelling. All due respect to Cecil Castellucci for thinking of it at all, let alone pulling it off so deftly.
And now, it’s Big Barda’s time to shine. The latter half of the series, still hammering home its core feminist themes, becomes the story of Barda picking up the torch from Aurelie and honoring not only her memory but herself and women everywhere by eventually escaping. It also becomes the origin of Barda and Scott Free’s relationship, although some would argue that shouldn’t become the focus (I doubt it will, but it’s there nonetheless). And it isn’t – at least not yet – as Barda’s enabling of Scott’s escape becomes the catalyst for her treason against Apokolips’ patriarchy.
It’s a hell of a risk, killing your lead character a mere halfway through the story. But Barda is a more than strong enough character to carry the load, especially now that she’s being propelled by her righteous anger at Aurelie’s murder, and the system that allowed it.
Adriana Melo’s art is mostly good, although from time to time she seems to have some difficulty conveying motion, particularly in action sequences. Too often, her characters look like they’re posing rather than moving. A similar recurring issue is the often-blank stares she gives Scott Free in lieu of any other emotions. It’s not an issue with everybody – Granny, for instance, crackles with wicked glee – but just occasionally, her characters’ faces are too vacant for my liking. The coloring is still top-notch, though, which makes each panel pop off the page. Bonus: Walt Simonson cover out of nowhere! Always nice to see a modern master at work, especially when it’s unexpected.
Continuing its trajectory as a Fourth World retelling for the age of the Me Too movement, writer Cecil Casellucci manages to restrain the ham-fisted feminism - for the most part - and tells a solid story about a woman who is sick of being treated like garbage and isn't going to take it anymore.
Female Furies #4 (of 6): Barda’s Way
Writing - 7.5/107.5/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 6.5/106.5/10
Color - 7/107/10
Cover Art - 8.5/108.5/10
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