Today we’re going to look at a comic that did for the women’s movement what Lois Lane #106 did for racial issues.

It’s 1968. The Batman TV show is still running. DC, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that the Batman comics should reflect the camp style of the TV show – definitely a case of the tail wagging the dog!

Anyway, Detective Comics #371…

Detective Comics #371

Batgirl pretties herself up

Batgirl’s Costume Cut-ups begins when the Sports Spoilers Gang use their soccer skills to rob an armoured truck delivering cash to Gotham Bank. Yes folks: their soccer skills… Obviously fear that kids would be led into a life of crime was the reason soccer never caught on in the US! Witnessing this event, Batgirl springs into action successfully tackling a couple of the raiders. Unfortunately her mask is twisted and so she stops to put it right, thereby giving the Sports Spoilers a chance to get away.

Just then Batman and Robin show up to join the fray. “You may go for soccer,” shouts Batman leaping from the Batmobile, “But my speciality is sock-em!” What a wag that caped crusader is, eh? Doubtless stunned as much by Batman’s quip as by his punch, one of the gang is captured but the others flee. Batgirl is distraught: her feminine vanity in putting her mask straight allowed the gang to get away.

Batgirl muddy

The next evening the Sports Spoilers attack a sawmill out near the Gotham River. When the Dynamic Duo show up the gang flee down the river on logs. Oh yes. However, Batman and Robin aren’t far behind. “They didn’t expect us to be expert log rollers too!” explains Batman. A fight ensues as, on the shore, Batgirl arrives. Trying to help from the riverbank she is splashed by some mud. She stops to wipe it off, but the momentary delay once again allows the Spoilers to make their getaway. The poor girl is inconsolable.

Later that week Batman and Robin – disguised as hippies, no less!!! – go to see an informant only to find him slumped over a card table. “Dick — in his hands!” shouts Batman. No folks, it’s ok, the poor man wasn’t shot whilst masturbating; Batman is merely pointing out to his young ward Dick Grayson (Robin) that the informant is holding two playing cards. The fact that the cards are a King and a Queen enables the keen Bat-brain to work out that the next robbery is going to take place at a ‘Royal Happening’ in Gotham City Park. Boy, he’s good…

Batgirl's problem

At the park, the Sports Spoilers attack once again only to run into Batman and Robin. The duo embroil themselves in a rollicking good fight. Batgirl, who has been disguised as Queen Victoria (don’t ask…), goes to join in, but slides to a halt: “I have… a run in my tights!” she cries. As she bends to inspect the problem, the crooks are mesmerised by her shapely leg, “What a pair of gams!” coos one thug, admiringly. Batman and Robin are able to make short work of the love-struck gang. “Batgirl’s femininity gave us a break this time!” concludes Robin.

What a pair of gams!!

Later that evening as she takes to a bit of sewing, Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) ruminates on the events of the day and reveals that she deliberately tore her tights to give herself an excuse to show off her legs to distract the crooks. “I had to prove my femininity has its strong points,” she thinks. So that’s all right then.

Barbara sewing


Detective Comics #371, January 1968. Gardner Fox wrote it, the great Gil Kane drew it, and Sid Greene had a hand in the inks. The lovely cover is by the incomparible team of Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson.

Rumours that Germaine Greer read this just before writing The Female Eunuch have yet to be confirmed…