How Fans Immediately Reacted to BATGIRL’s Debut — Over Five Decades Ago

The response was swift and strong…

UPDATED 8/9/22: Everybody’s still talking about Batgirl! So dig this 2020 piece that looks back at how fans first responded to her late 1966 debut. Right on. — Dan

This week — Wednesday, Jan. 15 — DC is publishing the Detective Comics #359 Facsimile Edition, featuring The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl!, sure to be one of the more popular entries in the company’s burgeoning reprint line. (And Sunday happens to be the anniversary of the Batman ’66 show, which was integral to Batgirl’s creation.)

Now, if you want an INSIDE SNEAK PEEK at what the issue has to offer — story pages! ads! letters! — click here. You definitely want to.

But as it happens, for the last couple of years I’ve been quietly doing a Silver Age Batman re-read and one of the best parts has been seeing how fans at the time immediately reacted to what would eventually become comics-history landmarks.

Well, Detective Comics #363 — which featured Batgirl’s second appearance — includes two full letters columns devoted to the November 1966 debut of the Dominoed Daredoll:

Check out some of the more compelling comments:

— “Barbara Gordon impressed me as a gal with a lot of spunk — and, more importantly, a lot of potential.” — Irene Vartanoff

— “Sorry to tell you this, but I am disappointed with everything about the new Batfemme except her snazzy costume.” — Loren Liberthal

— “I think Batgirl would add just the right amount of zest to the television show. And may I be the first to suggest Ann-Margaret (sic) for the role! They were quite obviously made for each other.” — Autumn McCulley

To which Editor Julius Schwartz replied, “You think good! As of this writing, plans are actually under way to incorporate Batgirl into the TV show — with former Miss America, Mary Ann Mobley, a likely candidate for the role!”

Of course, the role ultimately went to Yvonne Craig instead:

But dig the letters columns in full, including a missive from future Bat-scribe Mike Friedrich.



— INSIDE LOOK: The DETECTIVE COMICS #359 Facsimile Edition. Click here.

— The Exact Issue When BATMAN ’66 Took Over the Comics. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. I noticed a “Dennis Palumbo” on the letters page. Wasn’t that Mark Evanier’s writing partner on the TV show Welcome Back Kotter?

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  2. I want Batgirl to go back to wearing this costume.

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  3. The original black was the best look. While I was a fan of the Batwoman and Batgirl characters from the late 50s, I still loved this new take. I always figured the others were on Earth-2.

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  4. Mary Ann Mobley was also originally going to be the Girl from U.N.C.L.E. So she missed out twice.

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  5. The new Batgirl debuted in the November 1966 issue of Detective. But the issue dated “November” actually went on sale sometime in September or October, right? Even before this issue, there was surely some other DC comic published that announced the upcoming November issue of Detective, and what date it WOULD go on sale. And when did THAT issue go on sale? And when was its authorship deadline prior to going on sale? As early as THAT date Batgirl’s debut was being planned: August or September 1966. So much for the notion that Batgirl’s creation was conceived as a way to boost the ratings of the Batman TV series as they began to sag DURING season 2! Clearly her creation didn’t actually have anything to do with declining TV ratings.

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