I like this sort of comic: early Golden Age, a bit crude around the edges, and lots of detective stories.
Cover: They lie! "The Phantom Killer" is by George Brennan but it's not a Clock story. Inside Cover: Johnson Smith was around forever! Many of these gimmicks were still being sold when I read comics as a kid in the 1960s.
I appreciate that the contents page lists writers and artists, like pulp magazines did. I wish comics had continued to do that. It would have made art-spotting a lot easier.
"Diamond Dick": No, it's not a weird porno story. In fact it's not really a story--just a sequence of incidents. The presentation and dialogue remind me of radio plays, especially the way the characters keep naming each other. The art needs better backgrounds but isn't bad. The penwork gives the drawings a pulp-magazine feel. Why would a cop "sight his gun to shoot high?" Unless he'd always figured someone might take his gun away. At any rate at this close range I doubt the crook would have used the gunsight to aim.
"Murder in the Blue Room": The cartoony artwork clashes with the story, which is a typical drawing room mystery with a couple of weak jokes. The mystery's contorted solution is something else! I wonder why the writer has Spurlock say "Th'" all the time. Usually that signifies a lowbrow character.
"Police Patrol": Interesting to see Ed Moore in his formative days. There's a lot of Raymond influence here, but Moore is already developing the clean-line, shadow-free ink style he used in Charles Biro's comics. Moore certainly got a lot better with backgrounds and vehicles. That soap-foam gag must go back to Joe Penner. Usually it's applied to dogs.
"The Phantom Killer": The heck with the set-up, let's get to the action! That's what George Brenner does here. Brannigan certainly takes a beating. And Killer Krautz gets the drop on him twice. Good thing Krautz is a lousy shot. Speaking of twice, this is the second story in which the crook tries to bribe the cop. Brenner's art is appealing if a bit clunky, and he keeps the story moving.
Sorry, I didn't read the chapter of the serialized novel.
"Wings of Crime": The story's somewhat confused, but Victor Dowling seems to have put honest effort into it. He tries for naturalistic poses and doesn't scrimp on backgrounds. With a little more work on staging and figure drawing, he could be pretty good.
"Roadhouse Racket": The amateurish art almost sinks the story by itself, but the script does its part. Even in a comic book I find it hard to believe Miss Perry spends an evening with this bozo yet doesn't notice when he's replaced by a ringer. Buresch's drawing is just competent enough for a reader to spot the Roy Crane swipes. It's funny that the hero resembles Buz Sawyer, whom Crane hadn't invented yet.
"The Tale of Timothy O'Toole": Finding this story is like finding a pearl in the compost pile. Even at this early stage Bert Christman stands head and shoulders above the other contributors in writing and art. We can already see the Noel Sickles-influenced style that Christman perfected when he took over Scorchy Smith. Though the story wanders a bit, it has some good scenes. I like the old-fashioned auto chase at the end. I believe that if Christman hadn't run off to the war and got killed, he would have become a major figure in American comic strips.
"The Bogus Bills": I'm confused by the business about radio static. At the end Thurston talks as if he's just discovered that the counterfeit press creates static. However on the first page he already seems to know all about it. Pinajian's art is easy on the eyes, except for the big panel on the last page.
Summing up, this was a fun book. That subscription offer is sure a good value. Twelve 64-page issues for a buck!