Published on November 11th, 2015 | by Guest Writer


Codename Baboushka #2 Review

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Crime lords of the world gather at a special auction on an oversized yacht and Codename Baboushka is on hand to, not so subtly, infiltrate the meeting.

The second part of The Conclave of Death sees the ex-Russian Mafia boss turned American spy attempt to insinuate herself into the secret meeting of crime bosses so that she is in a position to get her hands on the information that is being traded. Felton, one of the big wigs, has decided to retire and auction of all of his contacts and criminal connections. After a seductive start to the issue, Baboushka blatantly barges her way into the meeting and lays down her credentials, basically a video recording of the incident portrayed in last month’s opening issue. Because of her past, and the violent life she still obviously lives, it’s easy for the organisation to accept she’s still one of them.

But, like any good espionage story, nothing runs smoothly and the entire party is hijacked by Somalian pirates. Is all as it seems or is something more going on?

Babouska 2 insert 1

There is enough uncertainty in the narrative to believe that the pirates serve a greater function and none of it is an unlucky, random attack. This story thread doesn’t get a chance to bloom in this issue however as Baboushka is pitted against the invaders and the second half of the comic is pretty much super spy against thug like pirate. The intriguing part of the story is in the first act where Baboushka’s character is displayed in the way she manipulates the men on the ship. She uses all of the weapons at her disposal, strength, intelligence and seduction, to position herself where she needs to be to be accepted by Felton and the other mob bosses. This is a narrative technique employed by many writers especially in this genre to move the story forward while illustrating just how committed the central character is to their work. The level of enjoyment they get out of their actions says as much about their mental state as the actions they take and Baboushka revels in her role so much so that you have to wonder if she has truly left that mafia world behind her.

Babouska 2 insert 2

Unfortunately the second act isn’t as intriguing as the first and Baboushka’s escape from her captives is fairly formulaic. Had the artwork being of a level equal to the first issue this may not have seemed so clichéd but Shari Chankhamma’s work doesn’t hit the same high spots that they did the first time around. Although the panel design is successful and moves the narrative around in a playful and entertaining way some of the actual character work within the panels is too cartoonish and in some places the facial and figure work drifts into almost childlike simplicity. Some of the panels lack depth and on a couple of occasions you have to look really close to understand a characters stance.

Last issue I loved the contrast in style between the super spy and the socialite but it’s not until the end of this issue that this same level of design is evident. The story is still there and the script still has a lot to offer but without the strong art work to back it up there are elements of this issue that are difficult to take seriously. This isn’t as strong as the first issue but there is still potential here.

Codename Baboushka 2 cover

Title: Codename Baboushka

Publisher: Image Comics

Writer: Antony Johnston

Artist: Shari Chankhamma

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