Welcome to Ink Spots, a quirky little corner of DC.com devoted entirely to all of our favorite Young Adult comics and fiction. In this new Book Breakdown, Kelly Knox finally finds her footing in the Fourth World thanks to author Ngozi Ukazu.

Big Barda is big-time intimidating. Not only is she a literal force to be reckoned with, but she also comes from a place that doesn’t exactly welcome newcomers. But at the hands of author and illustrator Ngozi Ukazu, Barda is more approachable than ever in her eponymous new Young Adult graphic novel.

If you’ve ever wanted to know more about the New God and where she comes from, there’s no better place to begin than the pages of Barda. Read on for our big breakdown!

Cover Crackdown

Ngozi Ukazu’s cover has all the elements that make Barda, well, Barda: a golden headpiece, well-worn battle armor, the fires of Apokolips and of course, the iconic Mega-Rod. But there’s a hint of emotion in Barda’s expression. It’s fierce, which is as expected for the leader of the Female Furies, but there’s a tinge of sadness in there as well. It’s a small but compelling hint that there’s more to Barda than just the belligerent warrior we see on the surface.

Tell Me a Story

On the unforgiving planet of Apokolips, love is a crime. But Big Barda can’t help being drawn to her rival, Orion of New Genesis, nor can she resist feeling sympathy for those in pain. Barda is one of the Female Furies, an elite fighting force trained by the ruthless Granny Goodness. When Granny suspects that Barda is getting soft, she assigns her the task of interrogating a prisoner from New Genesis. But when she meets the prisoner, Scott Free, they have an instant connection. Could Scott be the key Barda needs to unlock who she truly is?

Let’s Talk Art

Ukazu’s expressive faces and dark lines are as bold as Barda herself. The art is a stylized version of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World—it feels quintessentially Kirby by incorporating his iconic geometric designs and the distinctive “Kirby Krackle.” But Ukazu also keeps the backgrounds uncomplicated to help make the style feel accessible to young or new readers who are reading their first stories of the New Gods. It’s a beautiful balance that works well to keep the focus on Barda and her journey of self-discovery.

Dialog Discussion

Each one of Barda’s visits to Scott’s cell, cleverly set apart from other panels with the blue tinge of the X-Pit cell he’s in, feels meaningful. Her task is to break him, but Scott doesn’t want to fight. Their first confrontation is with words only—Scott points out that he once saw her show compassion to one of her allies. There’s no malice in his voice, but the effect on Barda is just as devastating as if they’d traded blows. He asks her questions that she doesn’t want to answer, because she’s not ready to accept that she’s not where she’s meant to be. Scott Free sees Barda for who she is, and it frightens her more than any enemy on a battlefield.

Most Embarrassing Moment

Big Barda doesn’t feel embarrassed. No, the most embarrassing moment was my own, when I yelled, “Oh, now I get it!” while reading Barda.

Thanks to Ukazu’s skilled storytelling, I finally understand the New Gods and their place in the DC Universe. Kirby’s stunning Fourth World is one of the few corners of the multiverse that I haven’t explored yet, as I’m slightly daunted by the dazzling amount of detail and imaginative worldbuilding. Barda explains the basics of Apokolips and New Genesis that young adult (and not-so-young adult) readers can easily understand if they’re venturing to these far-flung planets for the first time. This gorgeous graphic novel is a fantastic introduction to Barda and her world that I won’t hesitate to recommend to someone looking to get to know the New Gods.

By the Numbers

Pages: 208
Planets at odds: 2
Female Furies: 6
Times someone says, “Darkside is.”: 6
Meaningful glances between Scott and Barda: I lost count

Most Crushworthy Character

Big Barda is supremely crushworthy because she crushes it in more ways than one. The most obvious way she crushes, of course, is with a swing of her Mega-Rod. She’s an unstoppable, fearless force. She loves to fight—if it’s for what she believes in—and she’s good at it. But when you find out that the young New God also dreams of falling in love, even though there’s no love on Apokolips? Swoon. Barda deserves to be loved and treasured, and it’s a delight to know that she’ll find happiness one day with the inimitable Scott Free.

Ukazu writes Big Barda at her most approachable as she struggles to find her true self in a terrible world. She’s simultaneously strong and soft, tough as nails and utterly compelling. Best of all, now that I’ve found my footing in Apokolips and New Genesis, I’m eager to explore even more stories starring the New Gods. Get to know Barda if you’ve been waiting for the chance to do the same.

Barda by Ngozi Ukazu is now available in bookstores, comic shops and libraries, and as a digital graphic novel.

Kelly Knox swoons over Superman and obsesses over every story told about the first meeting of the World’s Finest. When she’s not reading comics, she’s waiting impatiently for the next books by Tracy Deonn and Kalynn Bayron. Find her on Twitter at @kelly_knox.

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NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Kelly Knox and do not necessarily reflect those of DC or Warner Bros. Discovery, nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.