DC Comics’ latest initiative, We Are Legends, kicks off its first title with Alyssa Wong’s Spirit World #1. We Are Legends focuses on newly created AAPI characters who take up their own unique spot in the DC Universe.
Spirit World #1 combines the worlds of magic, the supernatural, and the usual superhero landscape one would expect with the majority of DC titles. With beautiful visuals and easily likable characters, Alyssa Wong shows why they are one of the top writers in the game right now.
*Warning: This review contains spoilers for Spirit World #1
What is Spirit World about?
Introduced in the Lazarus Planet event and shown again in a DC Free Comic Book Day issue, Spirit World follows the story of Xanthe, a mysterious character who is a Spirit Envoy. They deal with the supernatural in the Spirit World and only comes to the “land of the living” if things get bad.
Unfortunately for them, things do get bad and force Xanthe to come to Earth to stop what appears to be a zombie apocalypse in Gotham. Batgirl, Cassandra Cain, meets them at the scene, but is sucked into a portal to the Spirit World—trapping Xanthe on our Earth with no way to get home.
Xanthe’s journey then merges with John Constantine, a detective and sorcerer, as they search for a way to get Xanthe back to the Spirit World. The story then goes back and forth between Xanthe’s and Cassandra’s perspectives. While Xanthe looks for a way home with Constantine, Batgirl runs for her life from the spirits who seek to eat her for her life energy—pretty typical stuff in the everyday life of the Bat-family.
Cassandra eventually runs into Xanthe’s found family in the Spirit World: Bowen, a younger man who plays like a brother character to Xanthe, and Po Po, an adorable grandma who wields a magical staff. Po Po explains that Xanthe was an orphan when Po Po took them in and is always willing to help those in need. The two assist Cassandra and prepare her for the horrors that will inevitably come her way as a human in the realm of the occult.
As Xanthe and Constantine chase the essence of a Collective’s energy, Xanthe hears a voice in a distant alley—their mother! With scribbles over where their name should be in the speech bubble, the mysteries pile up as a cliffhanger on the final page!
What makes Spirit World #1 special?
First and foremost, Haining‘s art is outstanding. The character designs are extraordinarily put together, with Xanthe instantly recognizable and incredibly unique. The pencils compliment Sebastian Cheng’s colors to perfection. The Spirit World stands out as a place of intrigue, with dark skies contrasting the glowing neon signs. Floating ghostly skeletons of fish, dragons, and whales adorn the pages, and I cannot wait to see more down the road.
As a character, Xanthe is extremely likable right from the start. The issue starts with a nod towards It as a little girl in a yellow raincoat slips in the rain and slides towards a storm drain—only for Xanthe to save her. Xanthe appears to have powers of matter manipulation as she grabs a small cocktail umbrella and transforms it full-sized for the little girl. This also plays a big part in Xanthe’s primary weapon—a giant, anime-style sword that they carry around as a tiny version in their back pocket. Incredibly handy and great for travel!
Is this book good for new readers?
I cannot recommend this book enough for newer readers. First issues are typically a good place for anyone to start, and Spirit World #1 is no exception. The story has already kicked off the main plot prior to this debut issue, but Alyssa Wong and Haining do a wonderful job catching readers up in just a single panel.
It’s not only a good introduction to Xanthe and their world but also Cassandra Cain and John Constantine. The reader can quickly pick up whom these characters are and what they represent. Cassandra comes across slightly more talkative than usual, but she still feels like Cassandra.
In the end, this is a fantastic first issue from Alyssa Wong and crew. They manage to hook me on this entire world, the new characters, and the story in just a single issue. This is a quick add to the monthly pull list! And one final shout-out to Alyssa and Haining for this new gem of a “bonk” meme.
Pick up your copy today at your local comic shop!
Spirit World #1
Writer: Alyssa Wong
Colorist: Sebastian Cheng
Letterer: Janice Cheng
Spirit World #1 ReviewSpirit World #1 Review