By Ben Snyder
Ghost Station Zero #1 serves as a continuation of the Codename Baboushka catalogue and a mediocre one at that. Issue #1 sets up another globe trotting quest for Baboushka as she must stop the Russian government from reclaiming their secret and shady past. While obviously mimicking classic spy stories from 007, Ghost Station Zero #1 is just not nearly as interesting.
As someone who is new to the Codename Baboushka storyline, I wasn’t particularly lost while reading Ghost Station Zero #1. Writer Antony Johnston uses the 007 formula for this tale. We don’t need an origin story, we just need to know that she is a secret agent and does secret agent things. Johnston is successful in the setup of this as the story begins in the middle of a mission as Baboushka is caught in the middle of a gunfight. However, I found myself confused on who she was actually fighting and why it mattered. The stakes were laid out pretty directly, but the way the dialogue and scene played out it all felt pretty insignificant and uninteresting. In fact, I think I’d use that to describe the issue in its entirety; Insignificant and uninteresting.
Most of the staples of the spy genre are present in this issue: Expensive cars and gadgets, alluring women, fancy bars, secret evil Russians, a secret agent that has sex with everybody, etc. However nothing new or interesting is done with these tropes. They’re just there. I was hoping with a female protagonist having her bed both males and females alike, it would feel as a step in the right direction for progressive female protagonists.
On the contrary Baboushka reads like a sleezeball as she beds a women who came to her looking for comfort after being beaten. Of course, the woman in question turns out to be a sleeper agent, but it still came off as a scummy act. Perhaps this is the point of it- to reflect how scummy some of the things James Bond does in his movies, after all he is also an alcoholic womanizer. But once again, Ghost Station Zero doesn’t really do anything with this trope.
Shari Chankhamma does the art for this issue and similar to the story, there is nothing to really note. The art resembles something of a tumblr comic/anime hybrid. While some scene do look particularly cool, one being when Baboushka busts out of a crate with a motorcycle in the beginning, most panels and pages look bland and boring. Overall I’d label the art wholly inconsistent. There are some beautiful panels such when Baboushka is entering the casino, but there are also some where it just looks lazy such as when HH leaves Baboushka’s bed at the end.
Ghost Station Zero #1 is what is, a formulaic spy story and I can’t really fault it for that. However, it really doesn’t do anything noteworthy or to keep my attention. Perhaps eventually, it will get to the point where it can do something unique to the spy genre but as of now, I really wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.
Ghost Station Zero #1