5701 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Barb Wire (Dark Horse Comics) by Tim Bradstreet, over a white background

Barb Wire

(Comic book version)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Somewhere on a desert highway
She rides a Harley-Davidson
Her long blonde hair flyin’ in the wind
She’s been runnin’ half her life
The chrome and steel she rides
Collidin’ with the very air she breathes
The air she breathes


Context

During the early 1990s, multiple publishers launched new super-hero comic book universes as the market was booming. The indie publisher Dark Horse thus conceived a line called Comics’ Greatest World (CGW). Though it didn’t work out (the market crashed), it was interesting. This universe was later renamed Dark Horse Heroes.

Barb Wire is a tough bounty huntress from a decaying city, with a biker look. She gained indirect fame thanks to a 1996 movie starring Pamela Anderson , but this profile solely discusses the character seen in comic books.

Barb Wire is sometimes assumed to be just one of the “bad girls” characters that were popular during that time, and often judged by her looks (especially with the P. Anderson association). Actually reading the books reveals a more interesting character, though.

This profile covers all of her comic book appearances as to this writing. I’m missing but some promo material. There are small continuity discrepancies between the 1990s series and the 2010s series, but they’re trivial to patch over.


Background

  • Real Name: Barb Wire
  • Former Name: Barbara Ludwika Rose Kopetski
  • Note: Two different middle names were given, so we robertbrucebannerized 
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Charlie (brother), unnamed father, unnamed mother (deceased), unnamed babciu (grandmother, deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: None
  • Base Of Operations: Hammerhead Bar and Grille, Steel Harbor
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 135 lbs. Age: 33-ish
  • Eyes: Quite blue Hair: Quite blonde


Steel Harbor

The bulk of the action in the CGW universe takes place in 4 US cities. Barb is based in Steel Harbor (pop. 784K and falling). Occasionally nicknamed “metal city”, it was described thus :

“Mile after mile of bombed-out, crumbling brownstones, deserted factories, and dingy storefronts surrounded by an infinite sprawl of cracker-box tract homes. Stripped skeletons of abandoned cars line dark sidestreets. A cluster of boxy skyscrapers lies surrounded by ghettos and barrios. Bars cover windows and chain-link fences topped with razor wire encircle homes and prisons alike.

Steel Harbor is a city under siege from drugs, crime, pollution and gang warfare. Here, superheroes and villains butt heads in a turf war of epic proportions, and their tactics are not dissimilar. Whatever gets the job done. Those hardy few who are willing to fight to win back the streets are eagerly welcomed and desperately needed.”

Barb Wire rides away on her bike

Despite the efforts of the (grossly underfunded and understaffed) police, the superhuman gangs are top dogs on the street. The biggest are the Prime Movers, led by the superhumanly strong Mace Blitzkrieg and his cadre of superhuman gang leaders.

Their main rivals are the somewhat more benign Wolf Gang, led by Hunter. Though the Wolf Gang does not have the raw power and numbers of the Prime Movers, they share bonds with some of the toughest operators in Steel Harbor – including Barb Wire and at least 2 of her superhuman former bouncers, the Machine and Motorhead.

The dismal shape of the city is partly explained by riots and superhuman battles, including a huge one in Mill Heights in 1993. These left large swathes of the city uninhabited but for brutal and lawless gangs.


Powers and Abilities

Barb Wire has lightning reflexes, panther-like speed and agility, and remarkable strength for her size. She is incredibly skilled with guns, large motorbikes, strikes-heavy martial arts, muscle cars, and other macho stuff. Barb can knock out or at least stun even a big guy with just one punch or kick. She reliably can beat up 4 or 5 strong, tough brawlers at once.

She is also an experienced and successful bounty huntress, and a pretty good acrobat. She remains highly focused even in the messiest fights. However, she’s a mediocre business manager.

Barb reportedly has a unique knack when it comes to learning how to use weapons and vehicles. It is said she can master any such piece of gear within less than an hour. This is weakly supported by the material – she once learned to accurately aim a strange piece of vehicle-mounted artillery within a minute of seeing it.

Barb Wire's garage with her rides

She is attractive, charismatic, streetwise and has a strong personality. These traits make her a personality in Steel Harbor, and she has numerous allies

She’s sharp and crafty, and is good at deviously planning ahead. Her bouncy blonde image will lead most to underestimate her smarts, which is… unwise.

Good old arsenal

Barb Wire’s core equipment during the 1990s was :

  • Shades and biking leathers
  • Paired Colt M1911A1 Argentine Modelo 1927 .45 ACP
  • “Tracer bullets” aka “smart bullets”. These are armoured tracking bugs fitted into .45 ammunition. They are generally shot into cars so Barb can then track them with a compass-like receiver on her bike.
  • Cell phone w/headset – which back in 1993 wasn’t common in the US
  • Armoured Indian 841 motorcycle. Barb has several big vintage American motorcycles, retrofitted with bullet-resistant lightweight armour plating designed by her brother. Her main one is a vintage, rebuilt 1941 Indian 841 (with a “BARB” vanity plate), though she also owns a modified 1930 Excelsior and of course several rare Harleys.
  • Handcuffs
  • Both Barb and Charlie have a tracer implanted within their body, which can be tracked with the same receiver as the the “smart bullets”.

When preparing for a mission, she will often use equipment beyond these basics. Examples have included :

  • Modified Mossberg 500 Tactical pump-action shotgun. The one that was seen had a shortened barrel, a pistol grip and no stock, an unusually heavy heat shield, and a 5-shells holder on the top. One such weapon is kept in an Old West-style saddle holster on her current motorcycle, and it is her usual weapon when she expects heavy combat.
  • Smith & Wesson .44 magnum M29 with 6,5” barrel A high-calibre revolver she occasionally uses for heavy combat.
  • Holdout magnum revolver – which nowadays would likely be something like a Taurus Tracker in .44 magnum A relatively light and compact revolver with a 4” heavy barrel, which Barb packs when she needs something more discreet in hand than her big gleaming Colts.
  • Savage over/under 12-gauge shotgun. A hefty shotgun kept at the bar, along with a bandoleer of shell that doubles as a gun sling. Though not the best choice in an extended gunfight, it can double-tap with powerful ammunition.
  • Ingram M10 .45 machine pistol. Barb Wire always keeps one in the saddle bags of her ride, presumably with one or two extra clips.
  • Jim Bowie-type fighting knife
  • Barb Wire is occasionally seen with a submachinegun – likely be a H&K UMP45 or MP5K
  • A lightweight line is stored in a compact spool that can be towed by .45 ACP bullets. The spool can be attached to the side of one of her Colts, and I assume there is some sort of “bullet catcher” attachment that is fitted over the barrel so the shot will trail the line and embed it into whatever obstacle it hits.
  • Typical surveillance “shotgun” microphones.

Barb Wire dodges a baseball bat blow

Charlie Kopetski

Charlie is Barb’s brother – he’s probably the younger sibling, since Barbara is protective of him. He’s blind, flaky, good-looking and technologically gifted. His job is to maintain and improve Barb’s arsenal and vehicles. He’s not a computers man, though the Machine eventually procured a braille keyboard and a voice synthesiser so Charlie could learn.

Charlie developed an alcohol problem at an unclear point, though during the 2015 series he stated that he’d been dry for 6 months.

Charlie is capable of building comic-book-style super-tech, though this is expensive and everything has to be built by hand. Except for the “tracer bullets” above, Barb doesn’t like using such equipment. She can’t wrap her head around, and trust, gear that seems to come from a sci-fi serial. Still, this tech can be necessary in her least favourite kind of job – recapturing superhumans.

Examples of such advanced gadgets :

  • “Stun grenade” aka “sleepers” – a modified Russian RPG-7 with a warhead that generates an incapacitating electrical field
  • Power-dampening goggles – once fitted on someone’s head they’ll probably neutralize their superhuman abilities
  • A modified M16 rifle using gas cartridges to shoot a sort of harpoon, towing a line spooled within a cylinder under the barrel. It seems to drain and knock out people with electrical powers, sucking their energy into the cylinder.
  • Charlie even made realistic holograms projectors or blasters, but his sister would only use this stuff is there was no alternative.

The original Hammerhead Bar And Grille

Barb’s main business interest was an industrial building converted into a bar. It had ample floor space with the usual stolid red brick construction, large and visible industrial piping hanging from the ceiling, resilient furniture, a stage for a band, etc.

It had a well deserved rep as a rough place with some dangerous lowlives, especially when Barb and her bouncers were away. The main attractions were of course cheap beer and hard rock. However the original Hammerhead was already considered by some to also be a key place in Steel Harbor, where being seen and hammering out deals would enhance one’s street rep.

Barb Wire dodges shotgun fire

The basement of this building was huge. It was likely intended to be an industrial storage space, with vehicular access ramps for deliveries. This is where Barb’s brother Charlie spent most of his time, and where Barb stored her arsenal and vehicles. There were at least 2 stories above the ground floor, and the main room of the bar was circled by an elevated walkway.

Barb’s fleet includes a genuine restored 1924 Ford Model T, a rebuilt BMW Sahara (with sidecar, on which was retrofitted a Six-Pak multiple-barrels machinegun, facing backward ; there still is room for a passenger), a 1956 T-Bird, and a 1959 Cadillac Coupe (supposedly once owned by Montgomery Clift ).

Alonzo

Alonzo has been Barb Wire’s employee since she dropped out of college. He seems to be 4-5 years younger than she is. He’s just an ordinary bloke and an avowed coward, though he can drive okay and can apparently play a passable bass guitar.

Alonzo was Barb’s helper and driver when she became a skip tracer , and became the gopher at the Hammerhead Grille and Bar. At the Hammerhead, he apparently worked for food and shelter. Alonzo looks shaggy and harmless, which often allows him to avoid trouble. Barb has often used that to have him in reel in quarries.

Alonzo was also involved in a band called Death March. Death March amounted to little for 10+ years, though Barb Wire often gave them gigs at the Hammerhead. Death March exploded in the college charts circa 1995, resulting in a major case of ego inflation for Alonzo and his buddies. However, it seemingly cratered soon after.

Alonzo was still working for Barb Wire as of 2016, again as a general helper and driver.

2015 changes

The depictions in the 2015 series are more grounded – presumably because Barb has steered clear of superhumans for a year or two. The main differences are :

  • The vehicles fleet seems down to a few bikes, and a van for her helpers. Perhaps she sold her cars to pay the Hammerhead’s bills. Her usual bike is an Indian (though maybe not her old one), but she also owns a high-performance crotch rocket when speed is essential.
  • Her equipment is now much closer to what you’d expect from a real-world bail enforcer. Normally it’ll be a semi-automatic pistol, a large spray of high-concentration pepper spray, a tactical vest, an older cell phone with a light (but firmly affixed) headset, and handcuffs. She also packs a flash-bang grenade if she’s expecting serious problems.
  • The pistol that is briefly seen (next to a box of 9x19mm ammo) evokes a SIG P228, though she seldom uses it (the pepper spray is much safer on every level)
  • Charlie is still technologically gifted, but no longer appears to build comic-book equipment.
  • She now works with a few guys, but she’s the point woman. The helpers are mostly there to help wrap up, run surveillance, run interference and the like. They also have first aid qualifications. Her musclemen are called Bruno and Mealoa. Alonzo is still around, driving the van.
  • Her crew also includes a camera operator (Tony Tanaka), as Barb sells the footage as an additional income source. They are often accompanied by a network representative named Guy, who seems to be Cajun.

Barb Wire (Dark Horse Comics) in 2015 with vest and baseball cap

Barb and her crew in 2015


History

Barbara “Barb Wire” Kopetski’s father is a former steel worker and U.S. Marine. He reportedly fought in Korea, but is now bed-ridden and suffers from Alzheimer’s. Barb’s mother was a cop, who died in unknown circumstances. Barb was also close to her babciu (grandmother), who took her bowling.

Between her parents and the particularly tough atmosphere of her home town, little Barbara grew up an all-American fighter. She also inherited such traditional tastes as big chromed motorbikes, fast cars, high-caliber guns and heavy metal.

While Steel Harbor was prosperous — even booming — when Barb was a little girl, the situation soon soured. By the time she was a teenager, the town was already in dire shape.

Apparently she briefly tried to live in the outside world during her late teens or early 20s, but that did not work out and she came back to the Harbor. One suspects that she spent a year or two at a college outside of Steel Harbor.

Brazen youth

After dropping out of college, a young Barb came to work for the ageing Michael O’Brien, the most reputed bounty hunter in town. This apprenticeship worked well, but O’Brien was an alcoholic with wandering hands. Kopetski beat him up and became a skip tracer on her own. She was assisted by Alonzo, then a teenager.

During that time Barb was also Hunter (Wolf Ferrell)’s lover. Hunter was already a noted gang leader, with remarkably disciplined troops, though he presumably yet had to recruit his superhuman lieutenants. While Kopetski seemed proud of being with the handsome, smart and feared Hunter, they eventually broke up in violent circumstances.

Barb Wire (Dark Horse Comics) in 2015 with a red bandanna, leaping

The very first contract the Barb closed solo was locating one Avram Roman, who would later become the Machine. With information from Hunter, a fair bit of luck and a lot of guts, Barb did capture the superhuman Roman. However, Mick O’Brien and his crew came after her to get Avram, and the situation degenerated.

Barb had Alonzo call Hunter just in time. Though Avram and Kopetski was captured by the O’Brien crew, the bounty hunters were surrounded in turn by the Wolf Gang. After the skip tracers left, Barb let Avram leave as they had saved each other’s life during the fighting.

Martial manhuntress

Barb Wire became Steel Harbor’s #1 skip tracer, displacing O’Brien. Part of her success laid in her friends. After their breakup she rebuilt professional bridges with Hunter, and the elusive Machine often sent her information about the most elusive skips.

She also took to running a big bar, the Hammerhead. The bounty payments kept the Hammerhead running despite the perpetually-depressed economy in Steel Harbor. Inevitably, Barb Wire got involved in the high-powered gang warfare that dominates the embattled town.

(Why Barb runs the Hammerhead is never explained, but it may have belonged to her dad before his Alzheimer made him unable to manage it. It’s just a No-Prize Hypothesis  though.)

Her first documented job was nabbing Ignition, a psychotic pyrokinetic  working for the Prime Movers. While nobody else dared to confront Ignition and his entourage, Barb Wire felled them with a non-lethal rocket-propelled grenade built by Charlie.

This landed her in significant trouble. She had underestimated the wealth and pull of the Movers. Ignition was back on the street within less than an hour and looking for revenge. Barb’s friend the Machine helped repulse the attack, and the bounty huntress tracked Ignition to his hideout. There she saw Mace Blitzkrieg discipline Ignition.

Mace also mentioned that he would soon conquer the whole town. Deducing that he would start with the Wolf Gang, Barb Wire rode to warn them. However, superhuman Wolf Gang members who did not know her slowed her down. By the time she could warn her ex, the Movers were practically there and the Wolf Gang was overrun.

Despite their superhuman OGs and heavy firepower, the Wolf Gang and the neighbourhood were taking a murderous pounding. At that point the other bouncer of the Hammerhead Bar and Grille, Frank Fletcher aka Motorhead, came looking for Barb.

Barb Wire with her motorbike and guns

Fletcher’s frequent absences had recently led Kopetski to fire him. Frank’s no-shows were caused by massive telekinetic powers swelling within him, resulting in crippling migraines.

His power considerably enhanced by the latest painful episodes, “Motorhead” Fletcher dispersed the Prime Movers. He then asked for his job back, and he and Barb worked something out.

After another major clash with the Prime Movers to defend Barb and the Wolf Gang, Motorhead had to leave town. His tremendous power made a normal life impossible and threatened to turn the Hammerhead and Barb into targets for even more powerful parties.

Barb Wire then attempted to collect a bounty on a minor superhuman biker leader. Calling himself Fearless, he had the power to remove fear from people for a short while through his touch. Barb got rid of his suicidally fearless one-percenters , and cornered her prey.

Fearless used his fear-suppressing touch on himself and overwhelmed Barb. She was forced to exploit his fearless state to dare him to do a suicidal jump. Fearless was killed in the fall, costing Barb the bounty but saving her life.

Born to be wild

Barb then got into trouble caused by Deathcard. This assassin was piggy-backing on her manhunting skills to find and kill his targets. She expertly turned the tables on him, though Deathcard escaped.

Some time after that, Mace Blitzkrieg learned that Fletcher had left. Mace launched a major terrorist campaign in Steel Harbor, razing several police precincts with car bombs and putting the police in a state of siege.

The situation worsened when Titan was sent in by the Federal government. Titan was beginning to suffer from a major nervous breakdown, which also increased his immense power. He thus got into a pointless fight with the Wolf Gang. Their leader Hunter called Counterstrike, a superhuman friend who had gone corporate. Counterstrike held his own for a while, but was eventually overcome.

The catastrophically escalating situation was halted by Motorhead, who came back to Steel Harbor after hearing about the earlier bombings.

Barb Wire rides with Ghost

Some time later, the government project behind the transformation of Avram Roman into the Machine tracked him down to the Hammerhead. The Machine wanted to face them alone to protect the Kopetski siblings – the only persons treating him like a man. Barb nevertheless investigated and joined the conflict, arresting the Federal agent hunting down the Machine.

Knowing he was ineluctably becoming less human with each passing day, the Machine eventually left. He asked Barb to tell his father, who had gotten wind of his survival, that he was dead.

Hard liquors and fire do not mix

During a subsequent case Barb got careless. She nearly got killed by a common punk, which cost her more than she made from the bondsman.

She decided to concentrate on running the Hammerhead full-time and drop the whole skip-tracing business. She had the bar renovated, set up events and gigs for local bands, and even started wearing dresses and being “Ms. Kopetski”. The Hammerhead remained in the red, though.

A Steel Harbor street and Barb Wire

Large version

Barb improved the cash flow by working full-time on developing the bar for a while, but the financials remained sickly. Furthermore, she craved adrenaline and spent more and more time at the gym. Feeling betrayed by her inability to stick with the bar, some of the staff angrily left.

Things came to a head when Maureen Skach, the new Ignition, came to the Hammerhead to avenge the first Ignition. Since Barb was away, Skach grabbed Charlie instead.

Barb quickly found her brother, but was outmatched by the powerful Ignition. The bounty huntress nevertheless killed Skach’s psychotic and heavily armed sidekick. She then managed to take Ignition down by rigging up a taser staff hooked up on a large generator.

Skip tracer

Barb Wire returned to occasional bounty hunting and skip-tracing to stay in the money. During that era, the Mask came to Steel Harbor. Despite the Mask’s sheer power, Barb and the Machine energetically took the green-faced psychotic nuisance down. Kopetski finished the Mask off with a solid kick to the testicles with her steel-shod cowgirl boots on.

Barb then tracked down the superhuman Reddy Kilowatt into the city of Arcadia. She bagged him with the help of the local, supernatural vigilante Ghost (Elisa Cameron). Intuiting that the gruff Cameron felt lonely, Kopetski gave her her card as a gesture of friendship.

Ghost did contact Barb Wire when she came to Steel Harbor to locate a runaway girl. The pair eventually tracked the girl down, though she turned into a monster who begged Ghost to kill her after spouting some enigmatic warnings. Ghost left, still having trouble with Barb acting friendly and ignoring her brooding and spectral behaviour.

Ace of spades

Thanks to a lasting truce between the gangs, Steel Harbor became more peaceful. Barb seized this swell of cautious optimism, and had another go at developing her bar. She hired a new, better staff – including an assistant manager, the punk-chic Lacy. She even shot commercials broadcast on local channels.

Barb soon moved the Hammerhead Bar and Grille to a better location, in a former industrial warehouse on Harbor Drive at Industrial Way. The new Hammerhead became the quasi-official neutral zone of the city and the premier watering hole in town. It drew in large and mixed crowds, and was treated as a DMZ by the SHPD.

Though her business was finally making money, Barb felt miserable. It was far too much work and took too much time. She was particularly annoyed when having to play hostess for wealthy and influential locals slumming in her bar. She also suspected that when violence would return, it would happen at the Hammerhead.

As business boomed and her temper got worse, Barb alienated every single one of her friends by being increasingly self-centred and using people. In particular, the Machine left, never to return.

Barb Wire in the renovated Hammerhead Bar and Grille

The renovated Hammerhead Bar & Grille

This played right into the mysterious plans of an unrevealed interest, who sent a new Deathcard (this one a woman) as its agent. Deathcard II expertly set every power player in Steel Harbor against all the others, convincing most that Barb Wire had always been a double agent on their enemies’ payroll.

The brutally re-ignited gang war. With Deathcard II stroking the flames the crisis left dozen of corpses lying across town. It also seriously damaged the Hammerhead. Barb Wire realised that for once she hadn’t been the one who was two steps ahead of the opposition – and, worse, that she had lost sight of her own better human qualities and frienships.

Unknown legend

Coincidentally, in Arcadia, Ghost was also having a rough time. She contacted Barb Wire, hoping to talk. Barb seized the occasion, bought her a bike and took her on a road trip. They eventually ran into trouble with another group of bikers, whom Ghost soon realised served one of her enemies.

Barb decided to get involved in odd events in the creepy, eerie burg of Black Heart, Nebraska. This was a trap set by a demonic foe of Ghost, and the place soon became an utter nightmare. They attempted to flee, but were overwhelmed.

Ghost came to realise that the gory horrors and hallucinations bringing them down had been set to exploit her weaknesses. They were magically keyed to her neuroses about men, and she intuitively realized that she could disrupt them by stepping outside of her fixation on gender roles. She achieved this by giving a flabbergasted Barb Wire a big long kiss, breaking the abominable spell.

The pair was left in a particularly awkward situation, and rode away in separate directions. However, they soon got over it.

When they saw each other again, Barb Wire had been captured by Mister Borazzon’s mob. Borazzon, one of Ghost’s enemies, was a creepy crime lord with a medical condition and a brutally ruthless nature. Though Borazzon was amply prepared for Ghost’s special abilities, she found a way to blow up everything and send him and his flunkies to Hell while rescuing Barb.

Barb felt humiliated by her capture, and was creeped out by the supernatural horrors unleashed by Ghost to defeat Borazzon. They awkwardly parted ways again.

The rent is too damn high

(The 2015 series seems to take place a relatively short time after Ace of Spades – perhaps a year or two. At the same time, it is clearly the 2010s in term of tech, language, etc.)

Barb Wire continued her work, with the Hammerhead getting back slightly into the black despite her so-so financial skills. She also developed more income and rep by having a camera crew film her work as a bail enforcement agent.

However, the area around the Hammerhead gentrified, and the landlord cashed out – which would likely make the rent too damn high. The network also wanted to see superhuman action on Barb’s segments, as the super-gangs had been relatively quiet in recent months.

Though she hated arresting superhumans, Barb was forced by her poor finances to set her sights on “Wyern Stormblüd”. This man was a super-strong alcoholic with probable brain damage, who acted like an incoherent, bargain-basement Thor.

Hunter provided her with information and a power-neutralising pistol. As it turned out, Barb had been manipulated by the super-gangs to do their dirty work. They forcibly took custody of Stormblüd right after she perilously captured him.

Mace even used part of the money to buy the block the Hammerhead was on, though he let the bar keep on running and didn’t raise the rent much. He also used these events to order his gang not to attack Barb Wire despite mounting pressure caused by her bounty-hunting activities.

Back to the Machine

The power-neutralising pistol used to took down Stormblüd had actually been sent by the Machine via Hunter. It was a trap laid by the Machine for the Federal forces who had been hounding him for years. As he hoped, they arrested Barb Wire, threatened her with extraordinary rendition, then forced her to hunt down the Machine. Avram had Hunter give his location to Barb.

The Machine was apparently planning to kill all pursuers to stop their efforts, but Barb Wire interfered and kidnapped the special agent in charge. This convinced the Machine to stop fighting and explain what he could do to the Federal government if they didn’t let go of their hunt. A deal was reached, the Machine left town again, and Barb went bowling.


Description

Barb is the very model of the hot blonde. Being a biker, she dresses in jeans and leather, with cowboy boots and a low-cut black top (or a black leather bra). She always wears big black shades and racing gloves. She is a left hander, with a barb wire tattoo on her left upper arm.

Though she was drawn like a typical comic book super-heroine, it was eventually decided to draw her more like a body-builder to make her more distinctive. Since Barb Wire vol. 1 ended at this point it never fully materialized, except for a B&W concept sketch (the one with the big revolver in her left hand). She did look markedly more muscular in her Ghost appearances, but not later on.

Barb expressed disappointment at her voice not being deeper and at “sounding like a girl”, which I assume means she has a normal voice.

After the movie was released, Barb started resembling Pamela Anderson. That was gone in her 2010s return.

By 2015, Barb is usually wearing typical biker/metalhead clothing – tight black leather pants, black T-shirts with a metal band logo, bandanna, big leather boots, etc. It occasionally approximates her old leather outfits with a leather bustier, but generally it’s more covering.

As a 21-year old, Barb looked more like a grunge rocker or punk rocker than a biker or metalhead.


Personality

A fiercely independent, bold, headstrong, steel-willed, bounty hunting biker babe who takes crap from nobody and always stays at least two steps ahead of the game.

Barb is a rough and direct skip tracer. She’s tough, independent, hot-tempered and strong-willed – she was born, born to be wild. She hates being called by her birth name and aggressively prefers “Barb” or “Barb Wire”. She eventually made “Barb Wire” her legal name.

Though her manner is often forceful, Barb’s friends are loyal toward her. She is charismatic, she genuinely cares about her friends, and will unhesitatingly help them even against bad odds. Furthermore she is open-minded and fearless, letting her treat terrifying entities such as the Machine, Ghost or Motorhead as persons and earning their friendship.

Barb Wire and Ghost looking silently at each other

Barb Wire doesn’t like contracts involving superhumans. Even the low-powered ones can be very dangerous. She particularly hates the supernatural foes and psychic weirdness her friend Ghost deals with. There’s usually nothing a normal person can do against those. And though superhumans earn Barb a good cheque, the supernatural usually brings no reward.

Though she acts macho and likes all sorts of manly things, Barb isn’t emotionally repressed. She is open about her emotions and can act in a sensitive, kind manner when appropriate. This is especially true with her friends who live in terrible circumstances, such as Ghost or the Machine. She also knows she’ll usually be the only person courageous enough to be there for them.

Weaknesses

Barb Wire is an adrenaline junkie. If she does not see action for too long, she’ll gradually ramp up her training and sparring time and subconsciously look for trouble.

She is also very goal-oriented and somewhat self-centred. For instance she has come to regard Charlie more as support personnel, employee and frustrating weirdo than as a person. This annoys him – and her, whenever she realises she has been sliding back into that habit. According to her brother, Barb divides the world into 3 kinds of people – employees, customers and Barb Wire.

After opening the new Hammerhead, her self-centred streak got much wider. She leveraged her charisma to just use people and boss employees around. She treated her friends as means to an end without quite realising it, wrecking many of her friendships and connections. She eventually came to realise this, and has since rebuilt most bridges.

Barb Wire (Dark Horse Comics) in 2015 with her crew

Barb famously hates being called “babe” or “honey” or “chick” or “chiquita” or anything along those lines. This instantly puts her in a hostile mood and can easily result in violence – or have her engage a superhuman she’d normally cautiously avoid. One scene *very* vaguely implies it’s tied to her breakup with Hunter.

Though she’s still young, Barb Wire lives in an idealized heavy-metal-and-chromed-hogs past. She’s out of touch when it comes to fashions, ways of speaking, technology, online cultures, etc. and took forever to get a cell phone.

As she progresses through her 30s, Wire also becomes frustrated that she’s working all the time and doesn’t have much of a life. She’s also going longer on the booze and cigarettes than before.

Youth

At 21-ish, Barb was significantly brasher, prouder and bull-headed – and even less risk-averse. She was out to prove herself a badass no matter what – no compromises, and little common sense.


Quotes

“Don’t call me ’babe‘.”

“This was cleared with the commissioner. There was a check for a hundred K waiting for me here, to be turned over on delivery of this creep.”

“Button up the club ! And shoot anybody who comes near my cars !”

(About superhuman criminals) “Anyway I don’t want to take on any of those flying, fire-breathing wackos anymore.”

“I’ll pick up Hurricane Max for you, but only for *legitimate* bond recovery. None of this ’dead or alive‘ crap.”

“As a concerned citizen of Steel Harbor, I’m placing you under arrest. And I don’t want to see any of those freaks of yours move a muscle.”

“Okay… Smitty, is it ? You’re going to tell us what we want to know, aren’t you ? Because if you don’t, I’m going to let my friend use her guns. Smitty, do you want me to let my friend use her guns ?”

Barb Wire (Dark Horse Comics) in 2015, bowling

Hunter (getting angry at Barb): “Oh — so you the Man, huh ?”
Barb Wire (even angrier): “More man than you’ll ever be and more woman than you’ll ever get !”

“There has to be an easier way to run a bar.”

(Plunged into a really creepy and supernatural nightmare, turning toward Ghost) “Damn it ! What do I do here !? Who do I kill ?”

Assistant manager of the Hammerhead: “Business is killin’ it. We are mad trending.”
Barb Wire: “That gibberish indicates good news, yes ?”
Assistant manager (amused): “Welcome to the 21st century, granny.”

“Don’t forget there’s a *truce* in place. There haven’t been any crew beefs in months. Let’s keep it that way, ‘kay ?”

Mace Blitzkrieg: “Come now, Barbara. Enough of this bickering. Let us drink together.”
Barb: “Not in the mood.”
Mace: “I’m buying.”
Barb (immediately ordering): “Macallan 25. Double.”

“Every kid with a phone probably had you up on snap-insta-chat-face or some damn thing !”


DC Universe History

Barb could have operated for years in Blüdhaven, which has a feel that is not too dissimilar to Steel Harbor — and she would have fitted very well within the Nightwing solo series in the late 1990s.


Sharing

The links to follow us and/or subscribe to our monthly newsletter are at the bottom of this page.



Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Barb Wire

Dex: 07 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Mercenary
Int: 06 Wil: 05 Min: 06 Occupation: Bounty Hunter, Bar Owner
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 023 HP: 035

Powers:
Superspeed: 03

Bonuses & Limitations:

  • Superspeed is only usable for Mental Tasks using Gadgetry (Identify Gadgets)
  • Superspeed is a Skilled Power

Skills:
Acrobatics: 05, Charisma*: 06, Detective (Legwork): 06, Gadgetry (Identify Gadget): 05, Martial artist (incl. Techniques): 06, Medicine (First aid): 04, Thief (Stealth): 05, Vehicles (Air, Land, Water): 07, Weaponry: 07

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Gadgetry (Identify Gadget) is limited to weapons and vehicles
  • Gadgetry (Identify Gadget) is limited to equipment that is physically operated/aimed/driven (rather than programmed or some such)

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Steel Harbor), Confidant (Charlie), Familiarity (Bowling, Vehicular mechanics and maintenance), Headquarters (Expansive – the Hammerhead), Iron Nerves, Language (Might speak a little Polish), Lightning Reflexes

Connections:
Motorhead (Low), the Machine (High), Street (High), Steel Harbor Police Department (Low), Ghost (Low), King Tiger (Low), Hunter of the Wolf Gang (Low), Biker scene (Low), Mace Blitzkrieg (Low)

Drawbacks:
Debt 2 (operating the Hammerhead Bar & Grille), Serious Irrational Dislike of being called “babe” or similar

Equipment:
1990s Barb Wire is, as she would probably put it, a well-equipped girl. As a bounty hunter she uses a lot of specialised gear. Her core equipment is :

  • Shades [BODY 02, Shade: 02]
  • Biking leathers [BODY 05, Skin armour: 02, Limitation: Skin armour only vs. most motorcycles crashes]. Of course, Barb never lands on her belly, and all the exposed skin does not diminish the protective quality of her leathers in the least.
  • Colt M1911A1 Argentine Modelo 1927 .45 ACP (x2) [BODY 05, Projectile weapons: 04, Ammo: 07, R#02]. I would assume she packs two or three extra clips.
  • “Tracer bullets” aka “smart bullets” [BODY 02, Radio communications (tracking signal only): 08, Ammo: 08, Limitation: Ammo for the .45]
  • Armoured Indian 841 [STR 04 BODY 08, Running: 06, R#02]
  • Handcuffs [BODY 05], perhaps 3 pairs
  • TRACER IMPLANT [BODY 01, Radio communications (tracking signal only): 06]

Extended Equipment:
This gear is more mission-specific, and she has stocks of those stored in her vehicles and at the bar.

  • Modified Mossberg 500 Tactical pump-action shotgun [BODY 04, Shotgun blast (Range: 03): 06, Ammo: 06, R#02, Drawback: Very long reload time].
  • Smith & Wesson .44 magnum M29 with 6,5” barrel [BODY 04, Projectile weapons: 05, Ammo: 06, R#02].
  • Holdout magnum revolver [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 05, Range: 04, Ammo: 05, R#02].
  • Savage over/under 12-gauge shotgun [BODY 04, Shotgun blast (Range: 03): 06, Ammo: 02, Drawback: Long reload time].
  • Ingram M10 .45 machine pistol [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 05, Ammo: 06, R#02, Advantage: Autofire]
  • Jim Bowie-type fighting knife [BODY 06, EV 03 (05 w/STR, 07 w/Martial Artist)]
  • H&K UMP45 [BODY 05, Projectile weapons: 05, Ammo: 07, R#02, Advantage : Autofire]
  • Line spool and trailing bullet [BODY 04, 4 APs long line].
  • Shotgun mike [BODY 01, Extended hearing: 04, R#02].

Special-purpose Equipment:
This is gear that is built by Charlie and is chiefly intended to give Barb the necessary edge when engaging superhumans (which she hates to do).

  • “Sleepers” – [BODY 02, Lightning (Bashing Only, 1 AP Area of Effect): 08, Ammo: 01, Telescopic vision:01, R#03]
  • Power-dampening goggles [BODY 02, Neutralise: 12, Do nothing: 09, Limitations: Neutralise only affects the subject the goggles have been fitted on (-2)]

2015-2016 Equipment:
The high-end equipment has generally vanished. Ignore the previous gear, and use the following :

  • High-concentrate pepper spray [Chemical Attack: 06, Ammo: 04, Range: 01, Advantage: Scattershot, Autofire, Limitation: Chemical Attack has no Range, use the listed Range instead]
  • SIG P228 [BODY 03, Projectile weapon: 04, Ammo: 13, R#02]
  • TACTICAL VEST [BODY 04, Invulnerability: 05, Skin armor: 02, Limitation : Invulnerability and Skin armor only vs bullets and slashing and piercing weapons ; Real Armour]
  • High-end flash-bang grenade [BODY 01, EV 02 (Area of effect 1 AP), Flash: 06 (Area of effect 2 APs), Sensory block (Audial): 07, Note : all Powers are Combined, Grenade drawback, R#03]

Previous stats

The listed Connections are for Barb at her height. After the new Hammerhead opens she wrecks most of those with her crappy attitude, especially with the Machine, Hunter, Charlie and the SHPD. She has rebuilt them since, but her Connection with the Machine remains Low and she has no way to reach him.

Also, her Wealth increases to 006 after the new Hammerhead starts operating and becomes a source of revenue rather than a constant drain. This doesn’t last for long, though.


Charlie

Apparent stats for Charlie during the 1990s are a Gadgetry Skill around 06, an Expertise in Vehicular Mechanics and Weapon Systems, Extended hearing: 02, Genius, and a SPR (Blind).

By 2015 he simply has Gadgetry: 05, a SPR (Blind), a MIA (Alcohol) and perhaps some technical Familiarities and Expertises. The Genre now uses the realistic Gadgetry rules.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Helper(s): Rafael Sant’anna Meyer, Pufnstuff, Capita_Senyera, Darci

Source of Character: Dark Horse’s Comics Greatest World (CGW) books and related appearances.


Subscribe to our MINI-NEWSLETTER !

One bare-bones e-mail per month. Plain text. Short. To the point. Learn more.