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Spirit World #2
DC Comics

Comic Books

‘Spirit World’ #2 continues Xanthe’s gorgeous and terrifying journey to the Spirit Realm

Issue #2 masterfully continues the series’ incredible world building and pitch-perfect dialogue with truly stunning art.

DC Comics’ push to introduce a whole new cast of Asian heroes through their “We Are Legends” line-up, debuting the iconic new heroes The Envoy, City Boy, and The Vigil, continues to impress as Alyssa Wong’s beautiful, emotional, and terrifying series Spirit World deepens its fascinating lore in Spirit World #2. The nonbinary Chinese hero Xanthe Zhou, or The Envoy, was first seen in Lazarus Planet: Legends Reborn, before debuting in Lazarus Planet: Dark Fate, DC Pride 2023, and in their ongoing title Spirit World, which features incredible world building and pitch-perfect dialogue by Wong and truly stunning art from Haining and Sebastian Cheng.

Spirit World #2

DC Comics

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Spirit World is a – in many ways surprising, but honestly perfect – team-up between Xanthe, John Constantine, and Cassandra Cain, with Batgirl being dragged to the Spirit World by a vengeful Collective of spirits at the end of their first story together in Lazarus Planet: Dark Fate. The first issue of Spirit World sees Xanthe and John continue to work together as they attempt to find a new gate to the Spirit Realm so that they can rescue Cassandra, while the lost Batgirl is hunted by voracious spirits before being saved by the kind and caring Po Po and Bowen, all plots that are meaningfully progressed in Spirit World #2.

SPOILERS AHEAD for Spirit World #2!

Spirit World #2 sees Xanthe and John go to dinner with Xanthe’s living family after the shock reunion between them and their mother, who has been grieving them since their death as a child 15 years ago. Xanthe’s history is still unclear in many ways, but they were resurrected in some form as a connection between the Spirit World and the living one, with their sister Stephie eventually revealed as the key to Xanthe’s connection to the living. Xanthe’s reunion with their mother and family is short lived and disastrous, as their mother uses their deadname, misgenders Xanthe, and immediately falls back into a controlling motherly role. Alyssa Wong’s writing is particularly sharp and evocative in this scene, as Xanthe’s warring emotions between loving their family and recognizing they are not who they think they are causes Xanthe to abruptly leave the dinner, after their mother attempts to force them to stay.

DC Preview: Spirit World #2

DC Comics

Spirit World #2 is a glimpse not only into the world of a Chinese-American family living in Gotham, but also the difficulties of being gender non-conforming in an immigrant family with specific cultural and familial expectations. The casual queerness of Spirit World #2 makes this writer, a queer man, especially happy, because it shows DC Comics’ continued dedication to increasing LGBTQ+ representation on panel outside of their (amazing) annual DC Pride anthology. Xanthe is firmly and respectfully established as a nonbinary hero, and Spirit World #2 includes an interesting flirtation between Bowen and the male-presenting Spirit named Shen, as well as an appearance by Constantine’s old lover Oliver.

The appearance of Oliver is a fascinating callback to a time in Constantine’s life when he journeyed to New York City to be a hero in 2015s Constantine: The Hellblazer, which tragically ended with Oliver being dragged to Hell while his daughters and John watched on. This is yet another connection to DC Pride 2023, since the special shows Constantine finally freeing Oliver’s soul from hell, while Xanthe and Batwoman had their own queer adventure in the pages of the anthology. Alyssa Wong also hilariously confirms that Constantine has canonically had an intimate relationship with… himself, as a spirit of another Constantine haunts John on their travel to the Spirit World, with John proclaiming “Try anything once! Or a dozen times!

Wong’s callback to Oliver is not the only reference to a character’s tragic past, as Shen immediately recognizes Cassandra Cain, telling her they have met once before, when she previously died. Batgirl’s death was at the hands of her biological mother, the wildly dangerous assassin Lady Shiva, who then brought Cassandra back to life in 2002s Batgirl #25. Cassandra’s relationship with her mother Sandra Wu-San has always been complicated and layered, and it will be enthralling to see how Wong uses Cain’s death and revival to explore her half-Chinese heritage and create character development for Batgirl, whose ongoing series with Stephanie Brown in Batgirls recently ended.

Spirit World #2

DC Comics

The art in Spirit World #2 continues to be absolutely breathtaking, both visually stunning in its scope and also impressive in the amount of detail Haining – a Taiwanese artist whose work can be followed @haining_art – is able to place into every scene and environment. Haining’s gorgeous art pairs perfectly with coloring by Sebastian Cheng – who also provided the color for DCs 2022 Monkey Prince series – with the juxtaposing vibrancy and darkness of the Spirit World on full display.

A major highlight of Spirit World is that not only is the story fascinating, heartbreaking, and well fleshed-out, but the fight scenes are truly iconic and generously scattered throughout, with Haining’s battle art both dynamic and easy to follow. Xanthe’s ability to magically create incredible objects out of origami as The Envoy is beautifully fleshed out by Haining and Cheng, making the new and unique power a truly remarkable part of the story. It is very exciting that DC Comics is emphasizing representation of not only Asian heroes but also Asian creative teams, with an entire Asian creative team behind the beautiful and exciting Spirit World.

It is truly difficult to find any flaws in Spirit World #2, with my main feedback being “I want even more!” Alyssa Wong’s writing is, unsurprisingly, insightful and delicious, perfectly blending humorous dialogue and emotional revelations to continue the development of new hero Xanthe and classic heroes Constantine and Cain. Chock-full of intriguing action and meaningful plot progression, Haining and Sebastian Cheng’s gorgeous art pairs perfectly with the familial drama and supernatural excitement Wong brings to Spirit World #2, making the issue a must-read for any fan of DCs new hero Xanthe Zhou, or the beloved icons John Constantine and Cassandra Cain.

Spirit World #2
‘Spirit World’ #2 continues Xanthe’s gorgeous and terrifying journey to the Spirit Realm
Spirit World #2
Chock-full of intriguing action and meaningful plot progression, Haining and Sebastian Cheng's gorgeous art pairs perfectly with the familial drama and supernatural excitement Wong brings to Spirit World #2, making the issue a must-read for any fan of DCs new hero Xanthe Zhou, or the beloved icons John Constantine and Cassandra Cain.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.9
Haining and Sebastian Cheng's colorful, detailed, and evocative art is perfect for the Spirit World
The casual queerness of Spirit World continues to prove DCs dedication to LGBTQ+ visibility outside of it's Pride anthology
Wong's writing continues to captivate and excite
I am hoping Bowen and Po Po's backstory is explained more, as they are great additions to Spirit World's lore
9
Great
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