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Lady Cop (DC Comics 1st issue special)

Lady Cop

(Liza Warner)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

Lady Cop was a story by my belief-defying dark nemesis, the dreaded R. Kanigher, in 1975. It was in First Issue Special, a brief-lived DC Comics book where every issue attempted to launch a new character.

Odd as it may seem to younger readers, the notion of female police officers was still controversial back then.

Though the vast majority of First Issue Special characters did not stick, the Lady Cop protagonist did make an out-of-the-blue return in 2007.


Background

  • Real Name: Liza Warner
  • Other Aliases: “Chick” (at least that’s how most people refer to her)
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: None
  • Group Affiliation: The Police Department
  • Base Of Operations: An unnamed metropolis that looks a lot like New York City
  • Height: 5’6” Weight: 124 lbs
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Blonde


Women on the force

Leaving aside the matrons who have been serving in ancillary roles on the force (searching female prisoners and the like) since the XIXth century, women have actually served in the NYPD since World War One.

A lot of these changes are directly explained by the war – both the presence of soldiers in New York, and a lack of male manpower as young men joined the military. This made it necessary for the NYPD to be surprisingly progressive.

Thus, a small number of (armed, but not uniformed) lady officers were tasked with protecting young women from “corruption”. This “corruption” business seems to have referred to young women being seduced and/or abused by soldiers training in the New York area before they were shipped to Europe.

One ex-matron came to be the boss of a large number of policemen, a patrolwoman joined the Homicide bureau, and a Black woman was even recruited — all of this by 1919.

Bureau of Policewomen

In 1930 a special bureau for female officers (the Bureau of Policewomen) was established. Policewomen assigned to the Bureau performed matron duties, participated in undercover work, investigated charges of sexual assault, searched female corpses, took abandoned babies to shelters, and protected women and children by patrolling in plainclothes at beaches, movie houses, and schools. Each policewoman carried her own .32 revolver.

1975 police academy classroom with closeup on DC Comics' Lady Cop

By the 1960s, after Civil Rights trials, women gained the right to pass exams to become Sergeant, and later Lieutenant and Captain. By 1972, the NYPD ran its first experiment with female officers being detailed to full patrol duty.

By the time of Lady Cop, in 1975, several hundreds of female patrol officers were on the force. But it still was the first wave, having completed Police Academy training by 1973 at best. There was still significant social opposition to this, especially from the wives of policemen.


Powers and Abilities

Officer Warner is a gifted patrol officer, who trains very seriously. She has a rare eye for detail, and her athletic and combative abilities, while not staggering, prove very surprising to most people. She’s a solid hand-to-hand fighter despite the limited répertoire of moves taught to her.

She is also unusually charismatic and convincing. One panel also implies that she speaks at least some Spanish, which is rather useful.


History

Liza Warner apparently was a student when a serial killer broke into the apartment she shared with other young women. The “Ace of Spades Killer” strangled her two roommates while Liza hid under the bed in abject terror, but he did not see her.

While she was describing the scene to police detectives, she gave them invaluable details about the distinctive boots of the killer. A policewoman, trying to cheer Warner up and help her get over shock, complimented her over her “camera eye”. The officer told Liza how she wished they had people with talents like this joining the force.

Five O

Realising she would be forever haunted by the brutal murder of her friends until she caught the killer, Liza enlisted at the Police Academy. This had very recently become possible for women. She proved to be an excellent recruit, and on graduation day prevented an insane rebuffed applicant from throwing a grenade into the crowd.

Lady Cop throws a grenade into a bin whilst diving

She then went on to become a beat officer. Ms. Warner patrolled alone in a regulation skirt and dress shoes in the big city.

Officer Warner then vanished in comic-book limbo , though one may imagine that she did eventually get the “Ace of Spades Killer”.

Chief Warner

In 2007, Lady Cop made her return to the DC Universe. Ms. Warner is now the Chief of Police in the college town of Ivy Town.

Ivy apparently became a very weird place as the presence of the Atom (Ray Palmer) attracted various enemies and phenomena. Over the years Chief Warner became used to running into monsters and mysteries.

Her preferred mode of operation seems to be to only contact State and Federal authorities when absolutely necessary. She prefers to rely on local resources (such as the then-new Atom, Ryan Choi) with whom she has established personal ties.


Description

She’s the proverbial sexy woman in a uniform.


Personality

In 1975, Warner is a dedicated beat officer who genuinely serves and protect. She’s particularly vigilant when it comes to harm done to women and children.

She will routinely do such things as buying ice cream for street kids, counselling young women on how to deal with their conservative parents after they caught a VD (as they said back then), or asking troubled female passerbies if they are alright.

Of course, she suffers lots of social pressure and insults about her job. Most people strongly believe women do not belong on the force. Her boyfriend Hal, in particular, would prefer her to quit. Maybe his full name is Hal Trevor.

I come in peace

Officer Warner is amazing when it comes to deescalation techniques. She’ll keep trying to establish communication even in the face of violence. She’s entirely willing to take a few punches and being manhandled without resorting to violence herself.

When she has no choice left, she’ll use the least dangerous amount of force. Which usually means she’ll whup everybody’s behind with her bare hands and some compliance holds. Dirty Harry, she’s not.


Quotes

“Cool it ! That girl’s underage ! Don’t you realise I can throw the book at you ?”

“Haven’t you heard ? The Stone Age is over. The dinosaurs are extinct. You can’t club women over the head and drag them away by their hair. But, if you characters would be happier in a cage, I’ll book you. Let’s go !”

“Wait ! Don’t run away ! Let me help you !”

“I’m doing useful work for the first time in my life. I’d rather pound a beat than a typewriter.”

“Nina isn’t an animal to be whipped ! She’s the flesh and blood of your wife, too ! What would your wife do if she were here ? Would she drive her own daughter away ?”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Lady Cop

Dex: 04 Str: 02 Bod: 03 Motivation: Upholding the Good
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 03 Occupation: Police officer
Inf: 04 Aur: 04 Spi: 04 Resources {or Wealth}: 004
Init: 016 HP: 015

Skills:
Detective (Legwork, police procedure): 05, Martial artist: 04, Medicine (First aid): 03, Vehicles (Land): 04, Weaponry (Police): 03

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Her beat), Credentials (Police, Low), Language (Spanish), Police Rank (Officer), Lightning Reflexes, Sharp Eye, Schtick (Precise Blocker (Police cap, only usable against knives))

Connections:
Street (Low)

Drawbacks:
Misc.: Woman Ahead of Her Time (see below)

Equipment:

  • The only visible pieces of equipment on her is a pair of handcuffs on her belt (on the small of her back), and her wallet. She was surprisingly skilled at using her regulation cap for Blocking and disarming knife-wielders, though.
  • On the cover she wields a Nightstick [BODY 05, EV 03, /STR/ 03, Note: /STR/ only for Grappling], and there’s no historical reason for her not to have a .38 revolver [BODY 04, Projectile weapon: 03, Ammo: 06, R#03] if you want to extrapolate.

A woman ahead of her time

This Misc. Drawback functions pretty much as the Age (Young) Drawback, denoting social pressure and lack of credibility due to her unusual profession.


Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Liza Warner (“Lady Cop”) — Averaged PL3.6

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
00 01 01 01 04 02 02 01

Combat Advantages

Close Attack 1, Defensive Attack, Defensive Roll 1, Grabbing Finesse, Improved Disarm, Improved Trip, Power Attack, Ranged attack 1

Other Advantages

Benefit 1 (NYPD beat officer), Inspire, Language (Spanish)

Skills

Athletics 2 (+2), Deception 1 (+3), Expertise (Beat officer) 4 (+6), Insight 4 (+6), Perception 4 (+6), Persuasion 2 (+3), Ranged combat (Firearms) 2 (+4), Treatment 2 (+4) (Limited 2 (Limited to Revive and Stabilise)), Vehicles 4 (+5) (Limited 2 to common land vehicles))

Equipment

In the comics she has no equipment except for handcuffs, though she’s remarkably good at catching the blade of small knives with her regulation hat (thanks to her Advantages). On the cover she has a Light Pistol and a Club.

Offense

Initiative +1
Unarmed +5, Close, Damage 0

Defence

Dodge 05 Fortitude 03
Parry 05 Toughness 01*/02
Will 03

* Without Defensive Roll

Complications

  • Glass ceiling The notion of female patrol officers is still very unpopular, and Officer Warner runs into a lot of social pressure and small aggressions to make her give up her career
  • She’s just a broad! Many physically violent persons are way more liable to attempt to manhandle Liza than they would a male officer
  • In the line of duty Officer Warner is a highly determined idealist, fearlessly helping people in a rough part of 1970s New York City. Ain’t easy.
  • Woman in an uniform The regulation patrol uniform for female officers is complete shite when it comes to practicality in action.

Powers Levels

  • Trade-off areas. Attack/Effect PL 3, Dodge/Toughness PL 4, Parry/Toughness PL 4, Fort/Will PL 3
  • Points total 53 Abilities 24, Defences 8, Skills 10, Powers 0, Devices 0, Advantages 11. Equiv. PL 4.

Notes

As always for our stats for very low-powered characters, this is not aligned with the impressive stats for generic NPCs in the rulesbook.

Her Expertise is a bit low since she’s fresh out of the Academy, but it’ll undoubtedly rise quickly.

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: First Issue Special #4 (1975) written by Robert Kanigher

Helper(s): Gareth Lewis, John Colagioia, Jabroniville, the NYPD Museum 

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