Full Name: K-51
Codename: K-51
Nationality: American
Organization: U.S. Secret Service
Occupation Agent

Creator: Willis B. Rensie
Time Span: 1939 - 1941


       K-51 is an agent with the American Secret Service.
       Z-19 is an agent with the American Secret Service.
       The series is definitely that of K-51 for his is the codename decorating each adventure and he is the focus of each one. In most, though not all, however, he has the partnership of fellow agent Z-19. For that reason, she gets nearly equal billing.
       The term "Secret Service" may or may not be a catch-all term for American Intelligence. Regardless, K-51 is an internationally traveled and recognized agent of considerable repute. Sometimes too easily spotted for who he is, K-51 is known to be a dangerous adversary so his enemies are often on their guard against him. Being so apparently well known, however, has its advantages because bad guys seem to relish explaining their plots to him.
       The missions that K-51 get sent on are by no means easy or light-hearted. In the third recorded adventure he heads to China where he meets a diabolical would-be world ruler named Lin-Sun and her evil machine to kill from a distance. The first victims are residents of a convent and school in a nearby village. Innocent children and nuns are shown "falling to Earth dead". Many another innocent will die at the hands of bad guys who are hunted by K-51 showing how vital his efforts are.
       K-51 is a blond-haired good looking man with a pencil-thin mustache (at first but a lot bushier as time goes by) and a propensity for sudden action. He loves using his fists and uses them freely. The same holds for his gun hand which dispatches a fair number of adversaries. He is not always victorious at first, though, and he must surely have a cast-iron skull considering the number of blows it receives on his every mission.
       While we never learn his real name, we can see over the many adventures he has that his lack of a known name is not a hindrance since apparently everybody knows him by his codename. We have no information as to his background other than he is likely well-to-do because he has a personal valet named Wong, seen in a few occassions. In one adventure half-way through his recorded career he is visited by a scientist with some incredible powders he has developed which give K-51 super-strength (and one that lets him shrink to a few inches) but he only used his "vitamins" a couple of times before he apparently ran out and they were never mentioned again.
       Early in his recorded adventures he comes upon a woman he suspects is an agent for a foreign power. He is partially correct in that she is an agent but it is for his own organization. She is named Claire (no last name given) and she has the codename of Z-19. They save each other and complete the mission, getting friendly along the way. By the end of the next assignment which they happen to share, they become engaged. From then on, though he often works alone, he is joined on many an occasion by his lovely bride-to-be and she shows over again how capable she can be as an agent.
       On at least one occasion, K-51 is seen getting his marching orders at the F.B.I. headquarters and he is once referred to as a G-Man but I found no evidence he was in fact a Fibbie, especially since near the end of his tales, K-51 is promoted to Chief of the Espionage Bureau of the National Defense Committee. That does not stop him from getting personally involved in cases.


Number of Stories:27
First Appearance:1939
Last Appearance:1941

       In the tail end of the 30s, the Fox Syndicate of comic book publishing was, for the most part, Will Eisner. He wrote so many stories under so many different pen-names it is stunning. K-51 is one of his creations.
       Fox released a new line of comics called Wonder Comics in the spring of 1939. One of the many tales in this anthology was that of an operative named K-5. It was a quite short story with a fair amount of action in it, produced by Ned Coe, one of Eisner's aliases. The next issue of the magazine, one month later, had K-5 replaced by K-51 and the "author" was now Willie B. Rensie, another Eisner incarnations. The K-5 story had the tag line of "Spies at War". The first K-51 did not have that tag but subsequent ones for K-51 did.
       Was K-5 really K-51? Why the switch in codename? Why the switch in writer names? Why the switch in the general feel of the story (my opinion)? Who knows!?!
       One month after K-51 usurped K-5's position in the magazine, the name of the magazine itself changed from Wonder to Wonderworld though the numbering continued on from 2 to 3.
       One interesting tidbit about the Wonder/Wonderworld comics. The first issue had the lead character being a creation of Eisner named Wonder Man (hence the name of the comic). Immediately DC brought suit against Fox for copyright infringement. Wonder Man is seen leaping over tall buildings like Superman had already done. "Too close" claimed DC. "Not so!" denied Eisner. Eisner lost and the character vanished with only the one outing. The comic continued with the second issue having the lead character being Yarko the Great but after that, possibly to avoid further complications, the title changed to Wonderworld and though Yarko would still be a part of it, it introduced The Flame.
       Just as Wonder Man came and went with the first issue, so did K-5. I personally do not consider K-5 being the same as K-51. Just an opinion. However, since they were in the same comic line and the name is so close and so on, I include the sole K-5 story in the line-up, with that caveat.
       Wonderworld Comics would continue until issue #33 but K-51's missions ended with #27.

Note: Titles in quotes are mine. Titles not in quotes come from those given on Comic Books Plus and I liked them.


       Well, there really isn't a great deal to recommend about K-51 and his exploits but there is not too much to say badly about him either. The plots are routine ones for that era in that very nasty foreign agents want to do very nasty things to America and its allies and the intrepid K-51 is there to put a stop to them, often in a very nasty way. The things the baddie do are normal blow up factories and drop the odd bomb here or there. The things K-51 does to stop them is standard as well - find 'em, pound 'em, get bumped on the head or shot at, find 'em again and get your revenge.
       But at least K-51 has Z-19 to help out and she, for once, is not just a tag-along usually needing help. She is independent and self-sufficient. That is a nice change.


My Grade: B


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