Overview: In Spirit World #4, Xanthe Zhou, John Constantine, and Cassandra Cain’s trek continues. They find that they are on the most wanted list.
Synopsis (Spoilers Ahead): In the Spirit World, Batgirl (Cassandra Cain), John Constantine, and Xanthe Zhou find themselves alone in an abandoned building. Unaware to them, something is lurking in this building, and it’s reaching for them. Constantine steps in something soft. Then, they discover that they are inside a living collective that has already collected the inhabitants, and now it wants them. The three fight for their lives. All Xanthe is able to create with their paper is a bat, but it’s not enough for this fight. Xanthe can hear the residents calling to them for help. Xanthe calls out not to hurt the inhabitants, and Cass is grabbed by something. She quickly realizes it is a fusion, and she is able to escape while calling out a warning to the others. Constantine is likewise grabbed, and Cass is quickly smothered. Xanthe wishes they had a sword so that they could cut the sorcerer free, but again, they would be slicing into innocent people. Cass suggests an exorcism, but Constantine is able to free her with his magic.
Elsewhere, Po Po, Bowen, and Shen are also fighting. Bowen finds some more Joss paper, and Po Po hops on his back. He and Shen run to try to connect with the others. Shen is touched, and this enrages him for this thing dared to touch a god. Shen changes into the Divine Fox, the Soul Devourer, and attacks. Bowen throws the paper to Xanthe, and they form a sword to perform the exorcism.
Xanthe begins their cutting to pull the people out. They get a message from inside the collective begging Xanthe to free “her” first. Xanthe commands for freedom and a girl is freed. Xanthe is weakened, but they need to keep moving to free everyone. The girl asks Xanthe if they are going to free her mom, and Xanthe, filled with compassion, states that they are going to free everyone, despite Constantine’s protests. Po Po also objects, warning them that Xanthe has to stop; they are pouring their spirit energy, and it will suck their life away. Everyone continues fighting, but Bowen is grabbed by the collective. Xanthe frantically tries to free him. They succeed, but Xanthe faints into Cass’s arms. Constantine grabs Bowen, and along with Po Po, flees the battle.
Three days later, Xanthe awakens. They find Constantine, Cass, Po Po, and Bowen, but Bowen is restrained and is in a catatonic state without any memory. A part of him has been absorbed by the collective. In addition, Shen also has left, and the others were not able to find him for information on how to save Bowen. Can’t suggest the Jade Court, but Po Po forbids it. Bowen starts to speak, addressing the sorcerer, the bat, and the envoy. The collective is speaking, and giving an invitation to the three to descend into the underbelly and find it. The three have to be careful though. Constantine and Bass both lose control of their bodies and attack Xanthe.
Analysis: Spirit World #4 continues the fantastical story of this other realm. The art continues to depict this mystical world in a fanciful and fun way. The chief element here is the collective of souls that the heroes fight for most of this issue. It is drawn as a mass of tissue with tentacles and pseudopodia reaching for the heroes in an attempt to absorb them. What is interesting here is that the two non-resident heroes of the spirit world that are touched during the battle, Constantine and Cassandra Cain, are not absorbed, whereas Bowen is partially absorbed when touched.
Throughout this story, the living people in this world are depicted as having a scent, and that scent is described as being on John, Cass, and Xanthe. The only one of the three who is a resident of the Spirit World is Xanthe, but they spend a considerable amount of time in the living world and possibly pick up that scent through it. This scent is what intrigues the collective and makes it want them. What is also interesting to note is that it is John and Cass that lose control of their bodies in the end, not Xanthe. I am hoping that this will be explored in the next issue, as this creates quite the predicament and also layers in some rules of the Spirit World that could keep coming back into play throughout the rest of the series.
Editor’s Note: DC Comics provided TBU with an advance copy of this comic for review purposes. You can find this comic and help support TBU in the process by pre-ordering this issue digitally on Comixology through Amazon or a physical copy of the title through Things From Another World.