Each Friday, we'll be letting a different DC.com writer share what they'll be reading over the weekend and why you might want to check it out. Here's this week's suggestion for a perfect Weekend Escape!

There’s a chill in the air—and it’s just not because it’s winter. Those goosebumps and tingles down your spine are coming from somewhere other than the dropping temperatures. Could it be…a ghost?!

For this week’s Weekend Escape, let’s get lost in Spirit World! Xanthe Zhou is a spirit envoy who specializes in getting whatever people need—dead people, that is. When Xanthe gets stuck in the Land of the Living, they’ll need all the help they can get to get back home to the Spirit World—even if it’s in the form of John Constantine.

The Premise:

During the earth-shattering event Lazarus Planet, a storm of magic tears a hole between Gotham City and the Spirit World. While fighting off jiangshi in a Chinatown cemetery, spirit envoy Xanthe Zhou crosses paths with Batgirl Cassandra Cain and sorcerer John Constantine. Batgirl is pulled into the Spirit World as the gate closes, leaving Xanthe stranded.

Xanthe doesn’t like being in the Land of the Living for a lot of reasons, but the situation is much more dire for Cassandra: the dead are irresistibly drawn to the living and long to devour their life force. Can Xanthe and Constantine rescue Cassandra in time, or will she stay in the Spirit World forever?

Let’s Talk Talent:

Artist Haining, who previously worked on DC vs. Vampires, returns to horror in style with Spirit World. She brings beautiful, fluid designs to the ghastly inhabitants, both mundane and godlike, who call the afterlife home. As for the land of the dead itself, Haining’s amount of detail is both stunning and unsettling, which is fitting for the disorienting Spirit World. Colorist Sebastian Cheng lights up the afterlife with glowing signs that give the impression they’re constantly fighting off the creeping darkness, adding to the beautifully eerie atmosphere of the Spirit World.

Monsters and magic of the Chinese afterlife blend seamlessly with the existing magic of the DC Universe thanks to the clever work of veteran comics writer Alyssa Wong. The worlds suit each other well, embodied by Wong’s expertly written pairing of Xanthe and Constantine. The two magic users haven’t known each other for long, but Wong’s banter makes them feel like old friends who can take on whatever life (or the afterlife) throws at them—and give each other a ribbing or two while they’re at it.

A Few Reasons to Read:

  • Horror + magic = a vibe. Wong is a self-professed horror fan, and their love of the genre shows on every page. “Horror is a moment of reconnection with our bodies,” they said in a DC.com interview. “It's a reminder that we're alive.” I suddenly have a new appreciation for horror, and I can also see how this book abides by that same philosophy. Combined with Xanthe’s paper-folding magic and the mysteries that make up the Spirit World, this series has an atmosphere that’s all its own.
  • Xanthe is a standout new character. The non-binary Xanthe is a person of multiple lives—and not just the Land of the Living and the Spirit World. They’re unexpectedly confronted with the family members from their old life who still insist on using their deadname, which is brilliantly hidden from the reader. But Xanthe chooses to stay true to themself through their own strength and power. And, sure, there’s the whole paper magic thing, but it’s Xanthe’s indomitable personality and the attentive care they give the forgotten dead that make them instantly likeable and one of DC’s best new characters in years.
  • Spirit World-building. An afterlife apartment complex populated by neighborly spirits. Glowing paper lanterns hanging from awnings. Neon-lit alleys filled with ghosts, skeletal animals and a menacing god or two. Wisps of magic floating through the air. I loved it all.
  • John Constantine. Love him or hate him, or maybe you love to hate him? At any rate, if Constantine is part of the story, you know things are going to be interesting. While the Spirit World is new to the DC Universe, including Constantine as a touchstone makes this series feel strangely familiar. Whenever weird magic is happening, Constantine feels right at home, so we do too.

Why It’s Worth Your Time:

Spirit World is a comic unlike any other, and with just six issues, it’s absolutely worth your time to jump into Xanthe’s story. You can even throw in the prequel in Lazarus Planet: Dark Fate #1 if you want a little more Xanthe in your life. (Which you will.)

While it’s a gripping tale of vengeful ghosts and horrifying monsters, Spirit World is also a story about having compassion for the people in your life, both living and dead. It’s one of those series you’ll want to read again and again for new details you might have missed, or to simply admire the art in every panel. Don’t miss this chance to get acquainted with one of DC’s most intriguing new heroes.

Spirit World is now available to read in full on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE and will be available soon in print as a softcover graphic novel.

Kelly Knox writes about all-ages comics and animation for DC.com and her writing can also be seen on IGN, Nerdist and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk superheroes, comics and pop culture.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Kelly Knox and do not necessarily reflect those of DC or Warner Bros. Discovery, nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.