Writer Antony Johnston and artist Shari Chankhamma conclude their first arc in Codename Baboushka #5. This issue is packed with action as Baboushka has her final confrontation with the sinister Stirling. Antony does a great job moving the story exactly where it needed to end and keeping the characters consistent. And Shari’s art is an amazing homage to old pulp-like spy novels. However, both of them need some work before this book can attain its potential.
As stated prior, Antony has done a great job with his story. It is clear that he has a plan, and he is carrying it out with typical, but skillful, narrative design. In addition to that, this world feels cohesive, which means that he also did a great deal of world building. These are great qualities to have for a narrative in a comic book, as it keeps the issues in constant movement.
The best part of this issue, by far, is at the end. The interaction with Mr. Clay was tactful. It both concluded the first arc and presented new problems that are personal to who Baboushka is as a character. For five issues deep, it bodes well that there is clear character progression.
Unfortunately, there are also obvious flaws in this issue as well. Most of these flaws, though, were in the dialogue. Up until the final fight with Stirling, every single character kept restating his plan. This only needs to be said once. And another thing he needs to avoided is Baboushka constantly stating the obvious. Searching for the missing data, she was spelling out her plan one step at a time. Which is fine, but can be handled more tactfully than just “This happened, and this happened, so now I have to…”. Dialogue is one of the most difficult parts of any script, but it can break your story if it is done incorrectly.
Looking at the art, every single one of Shari’s panels were clean. It was obvious what was happening, and who it was happening too, no ambiguity. To accompany that, Shari also draws beautiful eyes. Seriously, without any dialogue, you know exactly what emotion each character is feeling just by the eyes. Her palette was perfect, the complimentary reds, greens, blues, and oranges, popped from the pages, and moved the readers gracefully from panel to panel.
Baboushka number 5 was a fun read, and it harkens back to my love for the Bond films. The art is beautiful, and with a few tweaks to the dialogue this story has potential to be something spectacular. Definitely pick this one up if you are invested. Otherwise, if you are new to the series, I would wait until the new arc starts in the next issue. I give this one 3.5 out of 5.
Story By: Antony Johnston
Art By: Shari Chankhamma
Publisher: Image Comics