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First Issue Special 4
Lady Cop in "Poisoned Love"

Writer--Robert Kanigher Pencils--John Rosenberger Inks--Vince Colletta

The cover, unadorned with copy or word balloons, pictures a beautiful blond policewoman, nightstick in hand, ducking to avoid a chain being swung through the air by a thug in a suede jacket while a small crowd looks on from beneath a city clothesline. It's uncredited, but appears to have been drawn by John Rosenberger with inks perhaps by Dick Giordano.

Lady Cop is one Liza Warner, a university co-ed driven to become a police officer after witnessing her roommates' murders from underneath a bed in their dorm room. The killer, who wears green pants with a yellow stripe down the leg and yellow and white boots adorned with a dangling black skull-and-crossbones charm, takes great delight in killing women ("After the first one--chick--the rest comes easy! Droppin' one by one--like cards!") and leaves his calling card--literally--an ace of spades. This one-page sequence draws upon memories of Richard Speck, the convicted killer of several nurses in Chicago around 1966, and the Charles Bronson film "10 to Midnight", which features actress Lisa Eilbacher hiding under the bed as her roommates are murdered by psycho Gene Davis.

Officer Henley, the kindly policewoman taking Liza's statement, compliments the witness' attention to detail under stress ("You've got the camera eye of a born police officer, Miss Warner!"). That, in addition to Liza's nightmares, in which she vows never to "sleep easy" until she tracks down the murderer, leads her to join the police academy, where recruits are taught guns are "to arrest--not punish", "a clear conscience is the softest pillow", and to "stop--not kill". The training montage, reminiscent of the opening credits to "Charlie's Angels", culminates in graduation, where Liza's commencement is interrupted by a madman with a grenade ("You ruined me with you flunked me out of the academy for being unfit! I'll show you how fit I am--!"). Liza, quick thinking as always ("He's flipped!"), takes the grenade away from him and tosses it into a nearby trashcan. BLANNGG!

Now walking a beat in the unnamed city, Liza, looking quite fetching in her uniform shirt (often partially unbuttoned), skirt and blond hair tucked under her cap, stumbles across a thug attempting rape upon Nina, an underage Latina. Nina makes her escape, but Liza is pinned by the thug and his previously hidden partner. As the first guy makes his move ("Watch me heat up the fuzz--" "Go--man--go!"), Liza responds with a kick to the knee, dropping the first guy, and a vicious backwards headbutt to drop the second. "The Stone Age is over! The dinosaurs are extinct! You can't club women over the head and drag them away by their hair!" Lady Cop's first on-the-job enemy isn't deterred, however, exclaiming from the backseat of the squad car, "You won't have to look for me, Lady Cop! I'll be back! You can't bust me up for kissin' a cop!" Liza's response: "I should be getting combat pay on this beat!" No kidding, considering what she has to face on what must be a typical day on the beat!

After buying a poor little black girl an ice-cream cone ("That little girl made me feel it's all worthwhile! Her kiss wiped out Mister Bad Mouth's!"), Liza overhears Nina on a pay phone talking to her boyfriend Eddie. "Wh-what--? Y-you just found out you have V.D.? Th-then I must have it too! What'll I do? M-my father'll kill me!" Unfortunately, before Liza can butt in, Nina bolts. "I've got to catch her!" Except her chase is interrupted by a grocery store robbery. "Drop that knife!" she demands. "Sure--Lady Cop--I'll drop it--six inches inside your gut!" She takes a slash on the arm, kicks the robber's butt, and performs mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to save the grocer's life.

At the end of the day, "--Here's where the cop becomes a lady!" Liza is met out front of the precinct house by her hunky boyfriend, Hal, who takes her home long enough to change into a yummy red striped bikini for an afternoon at the beach. "Liza--I'm tired of being kidded by my friends when I tell them you're a cop! Resign!" Boo-freaking-hoo, Hal. "I can't marry a working man--" "--Woman!" Liza corrects, as she puts a powerful smooch on Hal again. Still, even while making love, Liza is haunted by her past ("I can't stop thinking of finding the killer of my roommates...24 hours a day...even--now..."), which isn't surprising, considering what a jackass Hal is.

Three days later, Liza's back on the beat when she runs across Nina "at the edge of the pier" contemplating suicide. "It's not the end of the world!" "It is--for me!" It looks like Kanigher studied a few of those hokey venereal disease educational films for dialogue. "VD's deceptive!" says Liza. "Girls may not have symptoms. But it's a secret destroyer--poisoning you like an underground river! It can cause blindness! Insanity! Death!" Clearly, Liza has much to learn about cheering up suicidals. Her advice is to go straight to her family doctor. "The way to stop a forest fire is by stepping on the match--crushing it before the spark spreads!" Kind of a kinky metaphor if you ask me, but it seems to break through to Nina, who's more afraid of her "dock worker" father than anything else. "He'd kill me if I told him!"

Papa, who would be played in the Lady Cop movie by actor William Smith, doesn't take the news well and swings a left cross at Nina that connects right in the jaw. This is one tough lady cop, barely batting an eye, using the guilt of his dead wife to shame him into accepting Nina's condition. A lone tear drips from his eye, as he holds Nina and apologizes for his behavior. "Thank you--for reminding me I am Nina's father!" "Take her to the doctor! It will be all right! The fire inside her will be put out!"

Another good day for Lady Cop! Doh! Look out! It's that rapist again, leaping out of nowhere, chain in hand! "You're gonna wind up in the river for bustin' up my pals--you chick in fuzz!" (Whatever that means) After a (very) brief fight, the two combatants plunge into the river, where a police boat comes to their rescue. "Looks like you've had a busy day," says Liza's compadre. "The usual."

The story ends with Liza, a half-smile on her face, gazing across the cityscape, thinking, "Wonder if I'll ever find the killer in boots?" I guess we'll never know, since this appears to have been the first and last appearance of Liza Warner, Lady Cop!

1st Issue Special was DC's attempt at showcasing both new and existing characters to see if sales were enough to warrant giving them their own book or backup feature elsewhere. Of course, DC had great success with their Showcase title, which introduced the Silver Age Flash to audiences in 1956. I don't know why DC didn't just bring back Showcase in this case, although they did briefly a few years later. Besides Mike Grell's Warlord, none of the characters featured in 1st Issue Special went on to their own books, including Jack Kirby's Atlas and Manhunter, Metamorpho, the Creeper, the Outsiders (not the team Batman worked with) and Assassin.