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Secret Agent "X"- Volume Five (Volume 5) Paperback – November 13, 2015
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The stories here have something in common with the Star Trek movies: the even-numbered installments are the best (especially the second)! I would recommend reading the stories in reverse order. There's an editorial reason for this (which I'll post at the end, since it is a spoiler), but also because I found the first story to be the hardest to finish, and feels out of place in this collection -- more crime noir than pulp spy. The back cover blurb describes only three of the four stories; it omits a plug for the first story too. But the remaining three stories range widely and well, from early to late in the Secret Agent "X"'s career, and across the globe, on land, sea, and air. Innovative and evocatively pulpy!
***** SPOILER BELOW *****
Pulp heroes sometimes suffer from "power creep" over time, and having multiple authors presenting stories in the same collection sometimes leads to continuity problems. This collection has one good one: in the third story, "from the early days of Secret Agent X's career", X finds that his animal empathy works on sea creatures too, and he strikes a very Aquaman-esque vibe (which some may find eye-rolling, or even deus ex machina). But then in the fourth installment, from later in X's career, he must face off against some sharks. It should have been trivial with his command over sea creatures, but that new bit of agent power doesn't make it across to the different author.