Hogtown Spirits #1: Wyatt Blake

Written by: Kevin Parnell

Art by: Barb Felix

Publisher: Self Published

Launched this week on comixology is Hogtown Spirits #1: Wyatt Blake, a done in one noir story focusing on down on his luck Wyatt Blake who has one night to turn his luck around. I went into this story not quite knowing what to expect, but came out having really enjoyed myself and desperate to return to Hogtown sometime soon.

I was really impressed by the atmosphere and setting of this book which managed to be authentically noir without ever feeling cliché. When Wyatt Blake rolls up to the story with his internal monologue the mood was immediately set, I could almost hear the trumpets playing in the background. The city feels like a character in and of itself and I left the book truly feeling like I’d travelled to a unique place rather than just a typical New York Slum. What impressed me further is that Wyatt manages to be a likeable and interesting character outside of his noir roots. His dialogue is witty and his goals are relatable and heartfelt, he helps carry the story and makes for a very interesting character to follow through the story.

The story itself really got its claws in me and was actually quite a heartfelt and nostalgic tale. I was initially prepared for a very hard-boiled story but instead got something that actually had quite a few melancholic elements and focused greatly on character. It’s really impressive how in only 22 pages Parnell managed to really make me care about the character and in turn where their story would end up. It’s very impressive to see a story include a romance that doesn’t feel typical or shoe-horned in and actually managed to stir up some emotions in me.

The art too further enhances the atmosphere and gives the book a very expressive and immersive look. The characters themselves each look great and manage to have very emotional reactions and facial expressions which is crucial to the story. The backgrounds too are absolute great when necessary, Silver’s entrance in particular carried effectively established her character using only the art and a later double page spread looked fantastic and carried a great deal of emotional weight.

Really my only disappointment with the book is how short it is. While the story is a great done-in-one tale, the characters had really grown on me by the end of the book, so it was sad to have to say goodbye to them so soon, as I could easily see this series being lengthened into a mini-series or something. Given the book is self-published however I can understand Parnell’s limitations, and can only hope he and Barb Felix get to tell more stories in this world sometimes in the future, as I would gladly return to Hogtown for anything these two have up their sleeve.

Overall, Hogtown Spirits #1: Wyatt Blake is a great done-in-one story which should entertaining anyone interested in noir comics and beyond. While the story may have ended sooner than I liked, what time I did spend with the book was highly enjoyable and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good time.