Secret Agent X was the title of a U.S. pulp magazine published by A. A. Wyn, and the name of the main character featured in the magazine. The magazine ran for 41 issues between February 1934 and March 1939.
The Secret Agent X stories were written by more than one author, but they all appeared under the "house name" of Brant House. The first Secret Agent X story, The Torture Trust was written by Paul Chadwick, who went on to write at least fifteen others. Later stories were produced by G. T. Fleming-Roberts, Emile C. Tepperman and Wayne Rogers.
In the stories, the true identity of Secret Agent X is never revealed. He is a master of disguise, known as "the man of a thousand faces", who adopts several different identities in each story. Although he is a dedicated crime-fighter working undercover for the U.S. government, this is unknown to the police who consider him an outlaw. His true role is known only to newspaper reporter Betty Dale and his mysterious Washington controller, K-9. Agent X come close to being undone once by a woman who could recognise him no matter what his disguise. She turned out to be blind and recognised his manner of walking.
Although ostensibly in the crime genre, the Secret Agent X stories were situated at the more far-fetched end of the spectrum, with a number of science fiction elements such as futuristic weapons and mad scientists. They were generally given highly sensational titles such as The Ambassador of Doom (May 1934), Servants of the Skull (November 1934), The Golden Ghoul (July 1935), Satanís Syndicate (August 1937) and Curse of the Crimson Horde (September 1938). There were a number of similarities between Secret Agent X and other pulp heroes of the time such as The Shadow, the Green Lama and Operator No. 5. Authors such as Tepperman and Rogers produced stories for Operator No. 5 magazine as well as for Secret Agent X.
Beginning in 1996 Secret Agent X became the latest in a series of pulp heroes to be revived. In Tom Johnson's short story "Horror's Monster," published in Classic Pulp Fiction Stories Agent X's saga moved into the early days of World War II. Here he squared off against criminals who employed giant spiders to achieve their nefarious ends. Since publication of Johnson's tale, Stephen Payne has penned three novels starring the Secret Agent: The Freezing Fiends, Master of Madness, and Halo of Horror, all appearing under the aegis of Fading Shadows books. Halo of Horror has since been reprinted in a pulp facsimile format by Altus Press. Altus Press has also published other Secret Agent X material: The Stolen Formula, a rewrite of a Secret Agent X story written specifically for the Greek audience, and The Secret Agent X Companion, a comprehensive history of the character by Tom Johnson and Will Murray. Altus Press has also begun an ambitious reprinting of the entire Secret Agent "X" series in nine volumes. In addition, Wild Cat Books issued two collections of novellas showcasing the Agent; Secret Agent X Volumes 1 & 2. These were edited by pulp historian/writer, Ron Fortier and are currently Airship 27 Productions and published by Cornerstone Books Publisher. It is a continuing series of all new stories with future volumes in production. And recently Stephen Payne has begun work on the fourth new Secret Agent X novel, The Resurrection Ring, which will reveal new facts about the origin of the Man of a Thousand Faces.
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