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OPERATOR 5

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Full Name: Jimmy Christopher
Codename: Operator 5
Nationality: American
Organization: Secret Service
Occupation Agent

Creator: Curtis Steele
Time Span: 1934 - 1939

ABOUT THE SERIES

       Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, is an agent with the American Intelligence Service.
       Going by the codename of Operator #5, as stated, he works for Agent Z-7 who runs the secret bureau known as the AIS (my acronym). While there are many references to his being with the Secret Service, this is not the same arm of the law that was with the Treasury Department for a hundred years and is now with Homeland Security. This Secret Service is more to imply that the organization employing Christopher is very hush-hush.
       Christopher, when we first meet him, is described as a young man, "smartly tailored", walking "brisk, alert" into a skyscraper for a meeting. He possesses deep blue eyes which are constantly keeping track of his surroundings.
       As an early opponent mentions, it is to Christopher that the organization routinely looks for their "most difficult and dangerous cases" because Christopher has "where older and more experienced operators have failed". From this same individual we learn that the person who would become Operator #5 studied for some time jiu-jitsu under the Master of that martial art in Tokyo. He also spent three months as the sparring partner of Gene Tunney, then heavyweight champion in boxing. And still more from that person tells us that on occasion Operator #5 helps the head of the code breaking division of U.S. intelligence handle encrypted messages too tough for others to unravel.
       Helping this intrepid and extremely qualified agent are a group of very skilled and talented people. First there is Nan, his twin sister, who is every bit as good as her brother. His father was himself an operative, codename Q-6, before he had to retire from a gunshot wound to the chest. Tim Donovan is a young boy that Christopher would save and who, a few short years later, would be his most gifted assistant.
       And then there is Diane Elliot, an acclaimed reporter who is the love interest of Jimmy Christopher and who takes part in many of his missions, proving over and again how resourceful and needed she is. There is little to no chauvinism in this relationship; Operator #5 knows just how good she is in a pinch.
       Over the years, Operator #5 will face incredible enemies and seemingly invincible obstacles but his determination and his optimistic outlook will never be daunted.

BOOKS

Number of Books:9
First Appearance:1934
Last Appearance:1935

       Two decades after the last issue of Secret Service Operator #5 hit the newsstands, a small paperback company named Corinth Press released 8 of the 48 stories in paperback. This was around the time that Bantam was having success bringing back Doc Savage so I reckon it seemed like a good idea. Apparently it was not that successful, though, because the run did not last long.
       After that, a couple of smaller attempts to resurrect the line was made but nothing came of them.

       I have listed all the ones I know about. There may be one or two more.


1 The Masked Invasion The Masked Invasion
Written by Curtis Steele
Copyright: 1934

The Masked Empire is an organization threatening America with a power over darkness, turning day to night, making night more frightening, and bringing ruin to thousands. Operator #5 is the man to stop it.

2 The Invisible Empire The Invisible Empire
Written by Curtis Steele
Copyright: 1934

How do you fight an enemy you cannot reach? That is the problem facing Operator #5 going against the Yellow Empire, out to steal America's gold and using a flying fortress 13 miles above the ground.

3 The Yellow Scourge The Yellow Scourge
Written by Curtis Steele
Copyright: 1934

Again the Yellow Empire is attacking America but this time it is using a stolen submarine to make it seem the US is attacking other countries like the UK and Canada.

4 Master Of Broken Men Master Of Broken Men
Written by Curtis Steele
Copyright: 1934

Again the Yellow Empire is attacking America but this time it is using a stolen submarine to make it seem the US is attacking other countries like the UK and Canada.

5 The Army of the Dead The Army of the Dead
Written by Curtis Steele
Copyright: 1935

Everyone in America is talking about the man who has been bringing people back to life; celebrating the cheating of death. Operator #, Jimmy Christopher, is not one of them and wants to learn what the trick is but looking for it makes him an enemy of the would-be Emperor of America

6 Blood Reign of the Dictator Blood Reign of the Dictator
Written by Curtis Steele
Copyright: 1935

An insane but powerful man is determined to become the dictator of the country and no one is available to stop him except Operator #, Jimmy Christopher, and his friends.

7 Invasion of the Yellow Warlords Invasion of the Yellow Warlords
Written by Curtis Steele
Copyright: 1935

A modern day Genghis Khan is threatening the West and is using modern technology like biological weapons to pull it off unless Operator #, Jimmy Christopher, can stop him.

8 Legions of the Death-Master Legions of the Death-Master
Written by Curtis Steele
Copyright: 1935

The one with the latest plan to take over the country is doing so by harnessing the wealth and intelligence of those he has lured to his cult, nearing his goal of disarming the entire country so he can take over. Operator #, Jimmy Christopher, thinks otherwise.

9 Hosts of the Flaming Death Hosts of the Flaming Death
Written by Curtis Steele
Copyright: 1935

A vicious and clever gang has managed to steal all the gold in the U.S. reserves using horrific weapons. Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, must get it back and bring them to justice.

DIGESTS

Number of Digests:48
First Appearance:1934
Last Appearance:1939

       From what I've read, the publishing house of Popular Publications rivaled Street & Smith for dominance over the pulp fiction world during the 30's. One of its successes was this magazine which sold for 10ยข and came out each month for a year and a half and then every two months until its end.
       Frederick C. Davis was the author who fleshed out the character and penned the first 20 episodes until he decided he had had enough. I read that he was tired of having to come up with yet another Dictator or would-be Dictator to wipe out the country again. Might be true, certainly I would have grown tired of reading it month after month so imagine having to think it all up. Nevertheless, I have given him creator credit since I could not find anyone better.
       Emile C. Tepperman took over the typewriter and churned out more U.S. destruction for a while before he came up with the idea of one long storyline which is known nowadays as The Purple Invasion. When you consider that the 13 episodes really make up one very extensive saga, it was impressive. I do wonder how he felt when he brought it to a conclusion and then had to come up with a "and then what happened" the next month. Since he only did one story more and that was a rebuilding the country tale, I guess he too had had enough.
       Wayne Rogers (no middle initial of 'C' like the other two) continued the adventures and brought the character, and the fictional nation, closer to the real world with a faux Japan and a faux Germany being the aggressors. He crafted the tales up until the publication ceased.
       I read there had been a #49 written but unpublished. Cannot vouch for that.

       In addition to the "complete novel" detailing Operator #5's adventures, each issue contained a couple of short stories by other authors, some of which comprised series of their own.


1 The Masked Invasion The Masked Invasion
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 04/1934

The Masked Empire is an organization threatening America with a power over darkness, turning day to night, making night more frightening, and bringing ruin to thousands. Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, is the man to stop it.

2 The Invisible Empire The Invisible Empire
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 05/1934

How do you fight an enemy you cannot reach? That is the problem facing Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, going against the Yellow Empire, out to steal America's gold and using a flying fortress 13 miles above the ground.

3 The Yellow Scourge The Yellow Scourge
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 06/1934

Again the Yellow Empire is attacking America but this time it is using a stolen submarine to make it seem the US is attacking other countries like the UK and Canada. Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, has his hands full with this one.

4 The Melting Death The Melting Death
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 07/1934

Imagine your latest battleships crumbled to dust, your skyscrapers practically melting. That is what is happening around the nation and it is up to Operator #5 to stop it.

5 Cavern of the Damned Cavern of the Damned
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 08/1934

With a glazed look in her eyes, a young woman walked in the flames of an altar, killing herself. She was not the first and there would be many more if Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, cannot find who is behind such behavior.

6 Master of the Broken Men Master of the Broken Men
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 09/1934

Overnight the political and financial leaders of America have turned into gibbering lunatics and the country is in a panic. Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, is tasked with finding who caused them all to go insane and why.

7 Invasion of the Dark Legions Invasion of the Dark Legions
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 10/1934

The vision of the ghost ship manned with dead men was Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, saw as evidence of the bacteriological weapon a dictator had to attack America.

8 The Green Death Mists The Green Death Mists
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 11/1934

A Mongol leader, wanting to be another Emperor, has a greenish poisonous mist that spreads quickly and kills even faster. Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, must stop him.

9 Legions of Starvation Legions of Starvation
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 12/1934

Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, is out to stop the insidious plan of a powerful American who has stockpiled tremendous amounts of food and then unleashed millions of hungry insects on the farmland to create a famine and get richer.

10 The Red Invader The Red Invader
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 01/1935

America is being bombarded by bombs dropping from the sky but who the enemy is remains unknown, making it very difficult for Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, to stop them.

11 League of War Monsters League of War Monsters
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 02/1935

Seeking to become the richest man in the word, a would-be dictator has provoked the nations of Europe into another war and is planning on pulling America in as well unless Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, can stop the Masked Power.

12 The Army of the Dead The Army of the Dead
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 03/1935

Everyone in America is talking about the man who has been bringing people back to life; celebrating the cheating of death. Operator #, Jimmy Christopher, is not one of them and wants to learn what the trick is but looking for it makes him an enemy of the would-be Emperor of America

13 March of the Flame Marauders March of the Flame Marauders
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 04/1935

Enemies of a foreign power, knowing how reliant the US was on oil, is out to destroy all the stockpiles of it to make the country weak. Operator #, Jimmy Christopher, is determined to stop them.

14 Blood Reign of the Dictator Blood Reign of the Dictator
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 05/1935

An insane but powerful man is determined to become the dictator of the country and no one is available to stop him except Operator #, Jimmy Christopher, and his friends.

15 Invasion of the Yellow Warlords Invasion of the Yellow Warlords
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 06/1935

A modern day Genghis Khan is threatening the West and is using modern technology like biological weapons to pull it off unless Operator #, Jimmy Christopher, can stop him.

16 Legions of the Death-Master Legions of the Death-Master
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 07/1935

The one with the latest plan to take over the country is doing so by harnessing the wealth and intelligence of those he has lured to his cult, nearing his goal of disarming the entire country so he can take over. Operator #, Jimmy Christopher, thinks otherwise.

17 Hosts of the Flaming Death Hosts of the Flaming Death
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 08/1935

A vicious and clever gang has managed to steal all the gold in the U.S. reserves using horrific weapons. Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, must get it back and bring them to justice.

18 Invasion of the Crimson Death-Cult Invasion of the Crimson Death-Cult
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 09/1935

His name is Kasma and all in the deserts of Asia worship him. He has now decided to use a deadly weapon to bring his wrath on America unless Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, can stop him.

19 Attack of the Blizzard-Men Attack of the Blizzard-Men
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 10/1935

Someone has created a horrible weapon that can create blizzards on demand and is freezing all the cities of America. It is up to Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, to find it and destroy it.

20 Scourge of the Invisible Death Scourge of the Invisible Death
Written by Frederick C. Davis (writer)
Copyright: 11/1935

Misguided patriots have decided to strike at America's air power to change the course of history. Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, is ready to stop them but they strike at him first by kidnapping his beloved Diane.

21 Raiders of the Red Death Raiders of the Red Death
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 12/1935

The would-be conqueror of America was called Montezuma the Third and he had recreated the Aztec Empire. Using a powerful new weapon he plans to take control of the US unless Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, can stop him.

22 War Dogs of the Green Destroyer War Dogs of the Green Destroyer
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 01/1936

Etoria, a Mediterranean country determined to destroy America's defenses so it could be pulled into that nation's empire, has a weapon which sends a strange green mist across the water. It is using it to advance up New York harbor and all ships that enter it are immediately engulfed in flames. Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, has to stop it.

23 Rockets from Hell Rockets from Hell
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 02/1936

Invaders have attacked and taken control of New England. Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, would love to fight them but he has trouble with his bosses' indecision. Meanwhile, his love, Diane Elliot, is wondering who holds her allegiance.

24 War Masters from the Orient War Masters from the Orient
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 03/1936

"Veteran military leaders turned craven" when faced with the coolie emperor from the "fleshpots of Asia" and the murderous horde he brings with him on his attack against America. Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, is the only one able to stop them.

25 Crime's Reign of Terror Crime's Reign of Terror
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 04/1936

The bad guy is the Scarlet Baron, a criminal "demagogue", who has promised each American can become rich and talked many of them into joining him on his wild rampage of plunder and murder. Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, is determined to stop him but it looks like it means sacrificing his love Diane and his friend Tim.

26 Death's Ragged Army Death's Ragged Army
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 06/1936

1st of 13 tales of the Purple Invasion - Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, and his colleagues, go up against the son of Emperor Maximillian, Rudolph, and his unstoppable horde, beginning the Second War of Independence.

27 Patriots' Death Battalion Patriots' Death Battalion
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 08/1936

2nd of 13 tales of the Purple Invasion - Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, is one of the few still able to stand against the invaders but suddenly he, attacked from within, has disappeared.

28 The Bloody Forty-Five Days The Bloody Forty-Five Days
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 10/1936

3rd of 13 tales of the Purple Invasion - Rudolph I seems unstoppable and his fighting machine unbeatable but Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, has one last desperate maneuver in mind.

29 America's Plague Battalions America's Plague Battalions
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 12/1936

4th of 13 tales of the Purple Invasion - The Purple Invaders of Rudolph I have pushed all of America's defenses into one spot and plan to destroy that last stand unless Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, can pull off a miracle.

30 Liberty's Suicide Legions Liberty's Suicide Legions
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 01/1937

5th of 13 tales of the Purple Invasion - It is nearly certain that Rudolph I has won in his attack on America but Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, does not know the meaning of quit.

31 The Siege of the Thousand Patriots The Siege of the Thousand Patriots
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 02/1937

6th of 13 tales of the Purple Invasion - Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, has a crazy, impossible plan to strike at the enemy deep behind his own lines. Success is impossible but necessary.

32 Patriots' Death March Patriots' Death March
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 03/1937

7th of 13 tales of the Purple Invasion - There is only one chance left to stop the Purple Horde. And it is doomed to fail.

33 Revolt of the Lost Legions Revolt of the Lost Legions
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 05/1937

8th of 13 tales of the Purple Invasion - Rudolph I has won. America is his. Still Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, does not give up.

34 Drums of Destruction Drums of Destruction
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 07/1937

9th of 13 tales of the Purple Invasion - Apparently word of Rudolph I's total success was premature but his latest gamut is particularly nasty. The eldest child in each family of the conquered land will be killed if the hold-outs do not surrender.

35 The Army Without A Country The Army Without A Country
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 09/1937

10th of 13 tales of the Purple Invasion - Rather than surrender to Rudolph I's latest threat, the remaining American army, lead by Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, makes a bold attack but finds the new front line filled with conquered Americans as shields.

36 The Bloody Frontiers The Bloody Frontiers
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 11/1937

11th of 13 tales of the Purple Invasion - As the war goes well against the retreating Purple Invaders, America is hit by an attack from the Goth warriors of Urslup the Strong, a new player.

37 The Coming of the Mongol Hordes The Coming of the Mongol Hordes
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 01/1938

12th of 13 tales of the Purple Invasion - Things are mighty dicey with the Purple Invaders but the Mongol horde is still advancing.

38 The Siege that Brought the Black Death The Siege that Brought the Black Death
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 03/1938

13th of 13 tales of the Purple Invasion - The Purple Invasion ends as Rudolph I tries to destroy everything with a Black Mist but ends up getting killed by one of his own men he had tortured by accident. American is free again.

39 Revolt of the Devil Men Revolt of the Devil Men
Written by Emile C. Tepperman (writer)
Copyright: 05/1938

As America tries to rebuild, an evil band of Brown Shirts tries to wrest power away from the new government but Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, will have none of that.

40 The Suicide Battalion The Suicide Battalion
Written by Wayne Rogers (writer)
Copyright: 07/1938

Three nations of Europe have banded together to bring their mechanized technology across the ocean to attack America. After a vicious blow wipes out the American forces ready to fight them, it is up to Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, to fight alone.

41 The Day of the Damned The Day of the Damned
Written by Wayne Rogers (writer)
Copyright: 09/1938

A combination of Japanese mechanized weaponry and terrible tropical disease is the latest threat to American that Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, must fight.

42 The Dawn That Shook the World The Dawn That Shook the World
Written by Wayne Rogers (writer)
Copyright: 11/1938

With most of the world in either anarchy or under a dictator's rule, it falls to Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, and his band of loyal men to travel to Europe to tale on the evil Dictator.

43 When Hell Came to America When Hell Came to America
Written by Wayne Rogers (writer)
Copyright: 01/1939

The evil Dictator of Europe has acquired a horrible weapon that can destroy whole cities and he is using it against America. Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, must put an end to this terrible device.

44 Invasion From the Sky Invasion From the Sky
Written by Wayne Rogers (writer)
Copyright: 03/1939

Giant enemy airships are raining destruction down on the cities of the Eastern United States and heading west. Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, must find a way to destroy them all.

45 Winged Hordes of the Yellow Vulture Winged Hordes of the Yellow Vulture
Written by Wayne Rogers (writer)
Copyright: 05/1939

The Western United States are being bombarded by terrible bombs from an army from Asia and soon all will be lost unless Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, can put a stop to it.

46 War Tanks of the Yellow Vulture War Tanks of the Yellow Vulture
Written by Wayne Rogers (writer)
Copyright: 07/1939

A consortium of Asian nations have divided up the Western U.S. into three sections, putting good Americans to death for fighting back. Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, is on the lookout for a way to oust them all.

47 Corpse Cavalry of the Yellow Vulture Corpse Cavalry of the Yellow Vulture
Written by Wayne Rogers (writer)
Copyright: 09/1939

The Asian tyrant, the Yellow Vulture, will not give up the lands that he controls in America and it is to Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, and his band of stalwarts to change his mind.

48 The Army from Underground The Army from Underground
Written by Wayne Rogers (writer)
Copyright: 11/1939

The Yellow Vulture has won. All of America's great cities are in ruin. Is there anything at all that Operator #5, Jimmy Christopher, can do?

MY COMMENTS

       In all the many series I have read, spy related or otherwise, I do not think I have seen any that has such tremendous amounts of destruction as does this one concerning Operator #5. Month after month impossible amounts of enemy soldiers, horrific weaponry, and dastardly chemical and biological threats hit America and leave gaping wounds. Thousands die every mission. Major cities are totally, absolutely destroyed and then rebuilt only to be smashed again. John Creasey's Dr. Palfrey comes to mind, of course, especially the later books, but if I had to pick the more destructive of the two, Operator #5 gets it.
       And through it all, one lone group keeps plugging the holes and leading the charge and defeating one enemy after another - Operator #5 and team.
       Now, I am in awe of people like Frederick C. Davis and Emile Tepperman who could draft such large adventures month after month. Walter Gibson did it for The Shadow and Lester Dent did it for Doc Savage, even longer, but that does not mean what the first two fellows did was not super impressive. But I do have to wonder how they both had such stories in them!

       The Operator #5 stories are meant to be completely over the top and they were.

GRADE

My Grade: B-

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