Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Spirit World #2 Review

All My Exes Live in the Spirt World

Writer: Alyssa Wong
Artist: Haining
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: June 13, 2023

The first issue of Spirit World took me by surprise.  I try to give every issue a fair shake, but I'd be lying if I told you that I thought the We Are Legends books would be half as good as they turned out to be.  Yet here we are, and I have been looking forward to Spirit World #2 since I finished #1.  So, was it as good?  Let's find out...

The issue opens with Xanthe giving us a personal recap and origin story, and while it doesn't provide any shocking details, it's a bit too close to how the first issue started up.  I know that's the play here, but it made it feel redundant instead of unique, and I wonder why Alyssa Wong went that route.

Unfortunatley, my confusion over story choices continued as we dealt with the last issue's cliffhanger.  Xanthe returned to their family, and this scene felt odd.  Connecting to anything playing out here without any setup to the family is hard, making Xanthe feel distant and cold.  That's not a great light to put your main character in, and it's a shame since later, it is evident that with just a tiny bit of setup, there is ample opportunity for some real feels here.  We may get back to it, but instead of showing the tragedy and emotions of losing a child and suddenly, miraculously finding them again years later, we get a passive-aggressive scene more for social commentary than storytelling.

Things do pick up as we head off to the Spirit World, where Cassandra Cain and her two new friends, Po Po, and Bowen, are dealing with a neighbor who has become very handsy.  Again, this scene would have had more weight to it with a bit more setup, but at least Bowen comes out of it looking better than Xanthe.

At this point, I was slightly frustrated with Xanthe and Constantine's lack of urgency, but after throwing in an oddly placed Constantine flashback, Wong gives us the book's best scene. 

Watch our Spirit World #2 Video Review

Stephie, Xanthe's younger sister, catches up to our duo, and through a short series of flashback panels and dialogue, we get solid information and, thus, some real emotions.  There is nothing fancy going on here, yet I  like Stephie now, and it all makes Xanthe a ton more likable than just a couple of pages before.  It also helps Xanthe and Constantine get back to what's important - getting to the Spirit World to save Cass!

It feels like Wong thinks she needs to equal out both parts of her story, so while I wanted to stick with Constantine and Xanthe, we zip back to the Spirit World and get Bowen seeking help from a sus ex that once again feels more like it's setting up commentary than story. 

While I praised Wong's depiction of Constantine in the last issue, he reverts a bit to the dummy we saw in the Lazarus Planet prologue story here.  I get that it's to make Xanthe feel more important in her book, but it's such a lazy shortcut to get there.  However, Wong throws in a couple of cool Constantine easter eggs that almost make up for all that...almost.

Spirit World #2 ends with a decent enough cliffhanger, and while I might have come off as very negative here, I am still into this book.  It looks like our characters will be getting together soon, and that will undoubtedly improve the overall pacing and give Wong more space to tell her story.  I like Haining's art so far.  It won't blow any minds, but it fits the story and is easy to follow.  Overall, I am still riding high on the fact that this book was such a pleasant surprise, but that can only take me so far.  I hope Alyssa Wong steps things up a notch next issue and keeps me on the Spirit World trolley.

Bits and Pieces:

Spirit World #2 is not as good as the first issue, but I hope that what Alyssa Wong sets up this month will pay off.  I still recommend everyone checks this out; I hope I don't look like a fool for doing so when all is said and done.


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