Publisher: Image Comics
Mission Briefing: Antony Johnston
Hidden Cameras: Shari Chankhamma
Publication Date: 11th November 2015
You might think she’s a hero. That would be a mistake. Baboushka is an enigmatic heiress to a noble Russian line and is a socialite by day and assassin by night. Her name is whispered in fear by criminals and she is being blackmailed by the US government into doing the CIA’s dirty work.
That’s what Antony Johnston keeps telling us at the beginning of both issues so far. I have to say that so far, I have to agree, she isn’t a hero. She is quite an interesting protagonist though.
Plot wise, this issue picks up right where the first issue leaves off. It’s quite straightforward and pleasantly linear. An attempt by Baboushka to insinuate herself into an information auction attended by some high flying criminal overlords, is rudely interrupted when the cruise liner they are on is hijacked by Somali pirates. Much mayhem and a little intrigue ensues, and the final panels do leave you dangling on a little cliff.
Antony Johnston is an able world builder, (just read the 60 issues of Wasteland if you want a taste) and the feeling here is that he is building for the long haul. There hasn’t been any major exploration of Baboushka’s past, and he has taken his time in the first two issues to make sure we know that she can kick arse with the best of them. Also, if you buy this comic, check out the book that Baboushka is reading at the beginning. A BCP “no we don’t have a prize for this” (no prize was taken) for anyone who can tell me the movie that it was made into, and whether you think it will be significant to the plot.
I must confess that I was concerned when I read the premise for the series that we would be getting a Natalia Romanova clone. So far I’m not 100% convinced that Annika Malikova (our girl Baboushka) will stand out from the Widow, but she isn’t the cheap Barras knock-off I feared. There are similarities, which are unavoidable given the Russian “kickareseness” of both characters, but so far she seems somewhere between The Black Widow and Silver Sable, and I am interested in finding out how Johnston plans to differentiate Baboushka from what we have seen of the previously mentioned characters.
Shari Chankhamma is the artist on this book and has previously worked with Antony Johnston as the colourist on The Fuse. Her own artistic style seems quite light and whimsical, and there’s something Manga-esque in the way she draws facial expressions… and facial hair. I have to say that the art is quite refreshing in this spy/action setting, steering well clear of dark and gritty corners.
Overall Codename Baboushka is a nicely put together book. It’s decent rather than exceptional. It doesn’t really surprise in any way, but it is entertaining. It’s a plot twist and an “I never saw that coming” away from a 4.
The writer of this piece was: John Wallace