DETECTIVE COMICS #371 January 1968
Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson original artists
I was thoroughly embarrassed by this comic when it first came out. I was fourteen years old, and while I'd faithfully been buying DC Comics since 1961, this travesty of a cover was further evidence that the folks up at National Periodical Publications were losing their grasp on what the audience wanted. Frankly, what we wanted were more Marvel Comics and less stupidity inspired by the fluke success of that somewhat lamentable Adam West "Batman" television program. I found myself increasingly fed up with DC's cluelessness, and began shedding tiles from my "must buy" list at an alarming rate. Unbeknownst to me, some of the bigwigs must've seen the writing on the wall as well, since there was soon to be a big editorial shift that would restore some sense of dignity to their line and lure back wayward readers such as myself, but I had no way of knowing this as fall gave way to winter back in 1967. This cover may very well have been the nadir of the "camp" era of the More-Doofus-Than-Darknight Detective.
The story? Oh, please. Essentially, on several occasions, the hapless Batgirl allows bouts of stereotypical female vanity to distract her while accompanying the Dynamic Duo on a case, inadvertently causing the crooks to escape scot free. Ultimately, she pulls the stunt depicted here on page 14 of a 16 page story, and her actions are sufficient a distraction for the male baddies to easily be taken down by several well placed jabs from Batman and Robin (who apparently remain unmoved by Batgirl's anatomical display. Hmm, I'd never really stopped to consider THAT before-- think it could mean anything?...). Letting her mentors believe it was just a happy circumstance, the readers are let in on Barbara Gordon's innermost thoughts in the tale's concluding panel. Seems she planned it all along! Yup, Babs felt while her "feminine weaknesses" (her term, not mine, folks) had indeed betrayed her in the past, she could also prove that they could work to her advantage as well!! What she didn't think was, "Men! They're such animals! Except Batman and Robin, of course. Say, I wonder why THAT is?..."

All these years later, I just look at this cover and laugh. It's almost adorable in it's total dopiness, indicative not only of what DC thought of the kids plunking down their pennies for a four color thrill back in '67, but also what men thought of women in that not so bygone era. Ironically, a scant few years later, DC would engage noted feminist Gloria Steinem to write an introduction for a Wonder Woman hardcover collection, and while I've no way of knowing how they were able to woo such a high profile personality to complete said task, I'm reasonably certain a copy of DETECTIVE COMICS#371 wasn't included in any complimentary goodie package as an inducement!?!...