Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Taking a large step back from what we know as fandom today, it’s amazing to imagine what things were like in the beginning — before we had the Internet to produce original material, before we had hundreds of pay channels. Long, long ago in the far away time of the 1960s, when a show reached a generation of people in a surprising new way.
The best stories sneak in moral lessons or truths about ourselves and our society, not in a preachy direct way, but couched in the comfort of fantasy and fable. “Persevere” sounds like a direct command, but “slow and steady wins the race” can be taken however we wish. Star Trek could be about racism, religion, greed or power balance, but because it was set in space and spoken in the language of science fiction, we chose how to interpret its meanings and the messages given to us by Mr. Spock.
A lot of obituaries for Leonard Nimoy, who sadly passed away today at age 83 from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, will mention that Gene Roddenberry called him “the conscience of Star Trek,” something I’d never heard before but that I can believe wholeheartedly.
For many men of a certain age, and more than a few women, Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl represented their first childhood crush. Confidant, sassy and just a little flirty, her heroine was a chaste counterbalance to the overtly sexual Catwoman, whether played by Julie Newmar or Eartha Kitt (there’s probably a master’s thesis in that). She was the purple-suited equivalent of your best friend’s older sister, or your next-door neighbor — the smart-and-pretty girl whom you thought you might have a chance with.
Batgirl was also wildly popular, even as Batman’s ratings flagged in its second season, as these 1967 photos from The Merv Griffin Show demonstrate. While the images have cropped up online before, it was difficult to pass them by when they appeared again overnight on Retronaut; I even poked around to find a couple of more shots of Craig backstage. It’s difficult to imagine an actor like Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson or Chris Hemsworth to appear in superhero costume on The Late Show With David Letterman or Conan, but there Craig is, looking like she’s having a blast.
As a bonus, I’ve also thrown in a photo Leonard Nimoy tweeted earlier this week of him drumming with Adam West, presumably in the late 1960s.