Spirit World #2 Review

Writer: Alyssa Wong
Art: Haining
Colors: Sebastien Cheng
Letters: Janice Chiang
Publisher:  DC Comics
Price: $3.99
Release Date: June 13th, 2023

Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) is in big trouble in Spirit World #2!  She has been transported to Spirit World, where dead spirits of various forms exist and dine on the unfortunate living souls who go there.  Meanwhile, Xanthe Zhou and John Constantine are trying to find a portal that will take them to Spirit World to rescue Cassandra, but along the way, they run into the most terrifying menace of all:  Xanthe’s mother!  It’s another issue drenched in fascinating Asian mythology and spell craft, with Xanthe and John Constantine having the potential to become the most enjoyable duo since Booster Gold and Blue Beetle.

If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read the Spirit World #2 Review.

The Story

Spirit World #2, much like last issue, follows two plot elements:  Cassandra Cain continuing her journey in the Spirit World while Xanthe Zhou and John Constantine struggle to find a portal that will get them to Spirit World to rescue her.

I found Cassandra’s part of the story more interesting this issue.  Cassandra has been given sanctuary by Po Po and Bowen, an elderly woman and young man living in Spirit World.  Po Po is the most badass grandmother you’ll ever see, wielding magic with her staff, which is topped with a dragon’s head and serpentine body.   She’s sweet but deadly when necessary.  She and Cassandra have formed a bond of sorts, and when they’re attacked by a dead soul this issue, the two team up to fight it.  We also get a stunning revelation for Cassandra.

These scenes set in Spirit World have the same creepiness and atmosphere of Asian Horror films like “Macabre” and “Train to Busan”, where the dead spirits transform into monstrous devourers, moving fast and spitting gore.  It gives the scenes set in Spirit World a tinge of horror that I hope will continue in future issues. The other plot thread in the book has Xanthe and Constantine having dinner with Xanthe’s mother, father and younger sister.  Xanthe’s mother is the epitome of passive-aggressive and she’s as formidable with magic as Xanthe is.

Constantine is surprisingly quiet throughout the dinner.  It seems since he’s met Xanthe, he’s had to devote all his skills to keeping Xanthe from totally losing it and lashing out with her powers.  It’s a strange but hilarious role for him, serving as a mentor of sorts for Xanthe.  It’s an Obi-Wan/Luke Skywalker-type relationship, but in this case, Obi-Wan is a chain-smoking grouchy misanthrope.
We get to see more aspects of Spirit World this issue, including how to travel there.  I love learning about new worlds and the rules that apply to those worlds, and we get more of that here, including the arrival of an H.P. Lovecraft style horror that promises to be a HUGE problem for Xanthe and Constantine next issue.

The Art

Haining’s art in Spirit World #2 is lovely, blending humor and dark fantasy, and sets the book apart visually from other DC books.
I especially love Cassandra’s costume “upgrade” given to her by Po Po, from magic cloth that prevents the dead souls in Spirit World to smell her presence. Cassandra’s costume upgrade is a beautiful design and I hope she keeps that costume if she makes it back to the world of the living.


Final Thoughts

Spirit World #2 mixes humor and horror, giving us some great action scenes with Cassandra and Po Po along with lots of dazzling magic from Xanthe.  For anyone who loves Asian mythology and wants to see a different twist on magic use in the DC Universe, check this out!


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