How tedious, indeed, Baboushka. How tedious indeed. I don't know what to think of Codename Baboshka. The story read like it was spring-loaded: it drags a bit and then kicks into high gear in its final pages. Baboushka's escape from the first precarious spy situation in which the reader finds her is thrilling. But the background intrigue leading up to that is boring.
There are times in comics (and other forms of storytelling), where I feel like I'm having the stakes handed to me on a silver platter, rather than sussing them out as the story develops. Here, I have to be honest, I just don't care that much about Baboushka. Johnston is at his best when he is building worlds and sending the reader careening through them; but, there's no world-building here. This comic has to lean entirely on its characters and the situations into which they're thrown, both the action and the intrigue.
And that's not to say that I think Johnston can't write a character, since he has excelled at this in essentially all of his other titles. It's a hard problem for me to pin down, but this issue has a lot of fat on it, without much meat. The limo scene where Baboushka is coerced into performing the task that will make up this first arc is claustrophobic and misses any chances to make me more curious about these characters. It's just a lot of posturing, really.
The art, unfortunately, seems not to be a fit for the style of story so far. Shari Chankhamma is really talented, having done great coloring work and having a portfolio filled with varied and crisp cartooning. The line work in this title, however, feels too lumpy, with the art being further confused by muddled colors.
There might be some First Issue Blues happening here, but I can't see the wishy-wash art being a selling point for me even if things with Baboushka pick up. I love the idea of a female spy, but there's just not enough here for me to love the idea of this female spy. It's entirely possible this comic just isn't for me, but I still think this issue is a sub-optimal gateway for anybody to enjoy this series.
Codename Baboushka #1 Writer: Antony Johnston Artist: Shari Chankhamma Publisher: Image Comics Price: $3.99 Release Date: 10/7/15 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital