Classic Comic Cover Corner – Detective Comics #359

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Every Sunday morning we showcase a classic comic cover, complete with compelling pop culture commentary, for your cordial contemplation. It’s the Classic Comic Cover Corner!

Detective Comics #359 – January, 1967

Cover art by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson

Detective Comics #359 – January, 1967
Detective Comics #359 – January, 1967

Fans of the sixties’ Batman television show took a big hit last week with the passing of actress Yvonne Craig, who played Barbara Gordon (AKA Batgirl) for 26 episodes of the classic Bat-series. But nine months before Commissioner Gordon’s favorite daughter appeared on television she made her official debut in Detective Comics #329.

Legend has it that the ABC network executives behind the Batman television adventure series were eager to have a woman protagonist for the show’s third year, who would help bring in the young girl demographic. The producers allegedly approached DC editor Julius Schwartz about having such a character originate in the comic book and ZOWIE – Batgirl was born!

Batgirl - Yvonne Craig
Batgirl – Yvonne Craig

For many of us the beautiful Yvonne Craig will live forever in our memories as the spunky brunette librarian who would don a red-haired wig and skin-tight purple spandex to become the sixties’ greatest TV heroine. And who could forget her famous Batgirl Cycle?

Ms. Craig had a ton of nerd-cred beyond her best known role as Batgirl. She also appeared in genre fare like the original Star Trek series, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Wild Wild West, Land of the Giants, The Six Million Dollar Man and the sci-fi cult-film, Mars Needs Women.

Although she saved Batman & Robin on multiple occasions, Batgirl, unfortunately, was not able to save the TV series from being canceled and the sexy crime-fighter only battled TV evildoers for the show’s final season.

As for Barbara Gordon in the comics, she would eventually suffer one of the most hideous episodes in superhero history, in the pages of Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke, where she is savaged and paralyzed by the Joker; a comic-book event that was all the more horrific due to fans’ fond memories of the innocent and wholesome Batgirl that Yvonne Craig brought to life.

Better to remember Yvonne Craig as Barbara Gordon, riding her awesome Batgirl-cycle off into the Gotham City sunset and that big henchmen throw down in the sky. Rest in Peace, Yvonne Craig.

What was your favorite Batgirl episode of the Batman television show?
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Bob Leeper
Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.