Writer: Alyssa Wong
Colors: Sebastian Cheng
Letters: Janice Chiang
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: October 31st, 2023
Xanthe Zhou, Constantine and Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) have a showdown with Wan Yujing in the Spirit World in Spirit World #6, the conclusion to the Spirit World miniseries. It’s wall-to-wall action as the trio not only have to battle the monstrous Wan Yujing, they also have to take down The Gilded General, who wants to kill them before Wan Yujing can, thus locking in his power in the Spirit World. Also, Xanthe discovers a new power! The Jade Court makes a fateful decision! And Constantine says he’s too old for this $*#%!
I’ve been loving the themes and settings of the Spirit World miniseries, which embraces Eastern mythology and magic. The whole miniseries has had a surreal quality combined with great flashy action and fight choreography. It’s like a comic book version of classic Hong Kong films from the 1980’s and 1990’s like “The Heroic Trio” or “Warriors of Virtue”. 90% of Spirit World #6 is pure action, as Xanthe, Cassandra Cain and Constantine fight a two-pronged battle with Wan Yujing and the Gilded General, both of whom have different goals, but their goals involve killing the trio of heroes.
I’ve enjoyed John Constantine in this miniseries more than in many other books he’s appeared in over the years. He’s a pure action hero here, still smoking the ciggies like a puffing machine and still his grouchy old self, but he slings so many spells throughout the issue, he makes Doctor Strange look restrained by comparison. It’s a fun change to see him in the middle of the action, rather than just standing on the side making his usual sardonic remarks. Amazingly, his character works well with both Xanthe and Cassandra Cain.
Wan Yujing is a terrifying nemesis, looking like a combination of a Peking Opera character and something that crawled out of the darkest passages of an H. P. Lovecraft story, with her gigantic form covered in a tattered red robe, long sinewy arms with massive claws, a rotting, octopus-like lower half and red pulsating eyes. Xanthe tries to redeem her, transform her back to her original form, rather than destroy her. It’s why Xanthe is such a great character and a hero, like the best heroes, she’s willing to sacrifice herself to save others. So even in Wan Yujing’s maelstrom, Xanthe is desperately trying to help her.
We learn a lot more about Xanthe in this final issue too, as she develops a new mystic ability that makes her even more formidable and is derived from her heritage, which we also learn about this issue. I hope DC gives Xanthe her own series, or at least another miniseries, so her heritage and powers can be explored further. Since she and Cassandra are close friends now, it would be a great way to showcase Cassandra, as well. Speaking of Cassandra, I hope she keeps the outfit she wore in the Spirit World, or at least incorporates it into her original costume. There’s a wonderful style and grace to it, a combination of classical China and modern times, and I’d love to see it become permanent garb for her in the future.
Haining’s art on Spirit World #6 makes the other-worldly setting of the story come to life. Wan Yujing and the Gilded General both look suitably terrifying and Xanthe and Constantine’s spell effects burst off the page. Great work from beginning to end!
Spirit World #6 ends the miniseries with a bang, giving us more insights into Xanthe’s history, some fantastic action sequences and a touching ending. I hope DC continues using Xanthe, further exploring that corner of the DC Universe so beautifully steeped in Eastern mysticism. Recommended.