Friday, July 14, 2017

Short(est) Lived Comic Series #6 - Lady Cop in 1st Issue Special (DC Comics)

As a comic fan, I always seem to gravitate to comics with female leads - from Wonder Woman to Batgirl to Supergirl to Ms. Marvel to She-Hulk to Squirrel Girl and so on. So, needless to say, whenever I am combing through comic boxes at comic conventions or at comic stores, when I stumble across a comic with a female lead, nine times out of ten, I'll pick it up.

This is what happened when I stumbled across 1st Issue Special no. 4 featuring "Lady Cop."

1st Issue Special was a series published by DC Comics back in the mid-70s that basically featured "first issues" of various comic book characters.  It seems to have been an attempt by DC to jump-start some new ideas and titles, but out of the 15 issues published, only one character actually jumped from 1st Issue Special into his own series, and that was Warlord.

Issue number 4 of this series featured a character called "Lady Cop." As can be pretty easily guessed by the character name, the issue tells the story of a female police officer.  Liza Warner is a young woman who witnesses the murder of her two roommates - and the only thing she sees of the murderer is a pair of white boots with black skull-and-crossbones hanging from the laces.  Knowing she will never rest easy until the killer is brought to justice, Liza enrolls in the police academy to become an officer and not only protect others, but find that killer.

Unlike today's comics which seem to drag out storytelling so as to pad it into a 6-issue collected trade paperback, this issue tells Liza's "origin" so to speak in a mere 5 pages - from her witness of the murder, to her enrollment in the police academy, her graduation, and her first act of bravery to prove herself.  It was actually refreshing reading this, as the story moved quickly without splash pages every other page and unnecessary drama thrown in to lengthen the story unnecessarily (not that there isn't drama in this issue - after all, it is very much soap-opera-etic by its very nature).  The remaining 15 pages of this issue contain the main story - "Poisoned Love."  (The title alone should give readers the immediate understanding that this story, and potential series, would be much like a soap opera)

And to say those 15 pages are packed with story is an understatement.  Liza, now an officer on the street, rescues a woman from two male attackers and sees them off to prison; she then saves a store owner who is being robbed; deals with a boyfriend who doesn't like the idea of her being a cop; and ultimately helps the woman she rescued earlier face her father and admit that she has a sexually transmitted disease.  There also remains the subplot of finding her roommates' killer (which is never resolved), as well as an introduced subplot of a friend of the two men she sends to jail who is watching her from a rooftop.

It's obvious from the subplots and unresolved story elements that DC was hoping this might evolve into an actual series; however, nothing ever came from it.  The character, though, did appear again - in the All-New Atom series as the police chief for Ivy Town, and then on the television series Arrow, as a member of the Anti-Vigilante task force.  I've never actually heard of the writer, Robert Kanigher; however, the artists, John Rosenberger and Vince Colletta, I have seen their names in other DC Comics from that period.  And speaking of time period, the story is definitely a product of its time.  The comments made by other officers regarding Liza being "the weaker sex," and the references to "V.D." rather than a sexually transmitted disease and Liza's reaction to it - they definitely date the story.

What does carry through to today's time is the character's strength and determination. Liza Warner is not a weak, timid female who needs a man to rescue her; rather, she is strong-willed, determined, and she is not afraid to step in to protect those in need.  She faces down two potential rapists; she faces down a rough robber; and she boldly confronts an enraged father - and for Liza, it's all in a days' work.

I really enjoyed the story, and it's somewhat disappointing that DC never did anything further with this character.  Obviously, I don't see "Lady Cop" as being a successful name for an ongoing comic; however, the character of Liza Warner was actually an engaging character to read, and I would like ot have seen more of her (particularly, I would have like to have seen resolution regarding her search for her roommates' killer).

RATING:  8 lighthouse beacons for floundering humans out of 10 for reminding readers that strong female lead characters in comics are timeless!

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