Barbara Gordon/Batgirl isn't the first Bat-lady of the DC universe, ya know.
That distinction goes to Batwoman, who had been fighting crime a good ten years before Babs arrived on the comic book scene (and even before Barbara, you had the first Bat-Girl: Betty Kane, who was created by writer Bill Finger and artist Sheldon Moldoff for Batman #139 back in 1961).
The original Batwoman, Kathy Kane, was created for the pages of Detective Comics #233 in July 1956 by Edmond Hamilton and Moldoff, and was partly introduced as a love interest for Batman to counter rumors that he and Dick Grayson/Robin were gay. When Detective Comics got a bit of a reboot in 1964, Batwoman was removed from the series but made a brief comeback in the 1970s before being erased from continuity, while Betty Kane's Bat-Girl also disappeared in 1964 (but was also briefly revived in the 1970s).
Betty was later replaced by Barbara Gordon in 1967, who became the Batgirl we all know and love when she debuted in Detective Comics #359 as the daughter of police commissioner James Gordon and creation of writer Gardner Fox and artist Carmine Infantino… but we digress.
The most popular version of Batwoman, however, was Kate Kane, who made her debut in DC's New 52.
Whew! SYFY WIRE’s Jackie Jennings is on hand to bring you a concise history of the DC Comics character in two minutes, so hold on to your bat-cape and dig into the video below.
Additional material by Nathalie Caron.