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PULP HEROES: The Originals
Return of the ORIGINALS!
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Operator 5
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Operator 5
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Operator 5...deceiver…manipulator…thief…hunter…sanctioner…patriot….partisan…undercover man…dangerous man.

Popular Publication’s Operator 5 title ran as a monthly then bi-monthly for 48 issues from April 1934 to November 1939. Under the house name Curtis Steele, three writers told the adventures of Jimmy Christopher, Operator 5 of the American Intelligence Service. They were Frederick C. Davis (issues 1-20, and he also wrote hardback mystery novels), the enigmatic Emile C. Tepperman (issues 21-39), and Wayne Rogers (born Archibald Bittner, issues 40-48).

Tepperman was responsible for the 13 interconnected novels, starting with #26, that make up The Purple Invasion, a series in which the Purple Empire (a thinly veiled Germany) conquers the United States after conquering the rest of the world. The indomitable Jimmy Christopher leads the bloody insurgency to free the country. This year-long story arc is seen as the War and Peace of the pulps as millions die and heroes rise and fall in the course of the story.

This too was a hallmark of the Operator 5 stories in that there was continuity from story to story so the effects of the Purple Invasion reverberated through the issues that followed. Jimmy Christopher would journey across the country after the defeat of the Purple Empire helping rebuild the country and face down such villains as the crypto-fascist Brown Guard Party and Kasma, leader of a cult who uses a sonic weapon to topple buildings.

The series ended mid-stride due to cancellation when the Yellow Vulture (leading a thinly veiled Japan) mounts another invasion of the United States. While Jimmy Christopher had many blood and thunder adventures, a consistent critique raised by reviewers is he himself was something of a cipher -- stalwart, brave and all that as any other pulp character, but few quirks.

With the Moonstone reincarnation, my intent is to emphasize the psychological toll going undercover has on Operator 5 as he'll have to do questionable acts at times to maintain his disguises -- how this then also affects his relationships with his lady love, reporter Diane Elliot and others. Also, I’m very interested in providing some depth between Jimmy and his dad, John Christopher, a retired spy once known as Q-6. What was it like growing up with a secretive father? Who at some point makes the decision to train his son in spycraft…to lie, cheat, and steal in the service of your country. Additionally I plan to weave in historical figures and situations from the era of the Great Depression to better ground the character and his life and times.

Gary Phillips
Moonstone's "Return of the Originals"
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