Overview: In Spirit World #3, Xanthe and John Constantine arrive in the spirit world and find Cassandra. Something else also has followed them.
Synopsis (Spoilers ahead):
In Spirit World #3, Xanthe and John Constantine finally have made it to the Spirit World. They are not alone, as a beast with a thousand eyes has arrived with them and attacks the two characters. Xanthe pulls out a sword from the ground and hacks off a tentacle. With its other tentacles, it grabs Xanthe’s arms. Constantine uses his powers to help free Xanthe. Soon another joins the fight, Batgirl (Cassandra Cain). Unfortunately, Xanthe lost their sword in the fight and is not able to make a new sword because they ran out of paper. All they have left are the items their client requested. Xanthe uses a pot to act as a shield, and they use an ax to hack off some additional tentacles. The three characters are successful in vanquishing the creature.
Soon Po Po and Bowen arrive, and Xanthe hugs them both. Constantine tells Cass that it is time to head back home. However, Cass cannot, there are people she has promised she will help. Constantine insists that he and her need to leave. He reminds Cass that Xanthe says that the Spirit World is bad for the living. Xanthe adds that the longer Cass stays, the more dangerous it is going to get. Cass just says that she is a Batgirl and helping is what she does.
More people in the Spirit World are going missing, and Cass came to this place for answers. Xanthe realizes that Cass went to Shen, who is the Spirit World’s most dangerous information broker. Shen adds that she knows all the information but it is expensive. Shen asks Cassandra what she will give Shen in exchange for answers about the missing neighbors and her missing memories of the Spirit World (It was revealed in an earlier issue that this is not the first time Cassandra was in the Spirit World, she just does not remember it). Cass asks what Shen wants, and Shen answers that she wants a piece of her living self, perhaps a finger or teeth or a memory of her family. Constantine urges Cass not to make a deal with the demon. Cassandra gives Shen her arm. She allows the demon to bite her arm once and to stop only when Cass says to. Shen agrees, and she remembers.
Her mother killed her and brought her back. When she was in the Spirit World the first time, a spirit attacked her and tried to fuse with her. Shen explains that that is the way of the Spirit World. It takes slowly but never stops. It consumes the person until there is nothing left.
While we are hearing this explanation, we find another creature with a man it has captured in a magic web. The spider-like creature consumes the poor man. While the man is consumed, it senses life and fire. We see in its hand Cass’ Batgirl mask.
Po Po gets a message from the warding spells. She says that they need to get back to the apartment immediately. Xanthe asks if someone crossed the wards, Po Po tells them that something destroyed the wards. That something is the creature from earlier. It has sensed tobacco smoke and foreign magic. Metal and burning flowers. Blood and oiled steel. She creates a spell to find the source of the scent and to retrieve it.
Constantine asks how far the apartment is. The only way will take an hour’s climb on foot. Bowen, however, can think of another way, and Shen responds that the heroes will have to pay handsomely for that favor. Xanthe magically picks John’s pocket and produces a pack of cat treats that they call genuine human food from the land of the living. Shen accepts the payment, snatches the pack, and transports them all to the apartment. But they are not alone.
The biggest complaint I have with the art in Spirit World #3 is John Constantine’s hair. I picture the character to have blond hair, and his hair is noticeably a darker brown than I usually see it. Unless there is an explanation in another story that I am not aware of, it is a little jarring to see on first reading, but it is easily overlooked because of this story.
I enjoy these types of stories. I find magic to be always interesting when it involves the occult, and John Constantine is usually the character that is involved in the occult. A chief complaint is the trope that all the writer has to do is come up with the magic spell to solve the problem in the end. I, however, find it more as an exploration, and that is what this story is. Instead of it being an exploration of a place, it is an exploration into Cassandra Cain’s past. How did she die before, and what happened to her the first time she was in the Spirit World? We get a small glimpse of that here, and I am hoping that we will get a further exploration of that story.
The major character of this story is new to me. Xanthe is referenced here as non-binary. Artistically, they are drawn having a distinctly feminine body with a short haircut and a lack of makeup on their face. Their gender identity is not overtly stated, but the use of the they/them pronouns when referring to this character is the indication. I find the use of these pronouns to be consistently used when referring to this character to be wonderful. In writing the summary, I tried to follow suit with these pronoun choices. It is a sign of respect for this character.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with an advanced copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by purchasing this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.