Buried Within (#1) – Tony McDougall

3 out of 5

A solid combo of ideas, but in way too much of a hurry to set itself up. Tony McDougall’s low-key combination of fantasy and crime – a literal mind-reader helps her mob enforcer father steal secrets for blackmail purposes – is intriguing at its outset, relying on context and Sanjin Mandic’s cinematic (if overly digitally colored) art to communicate its premise, but as soon as McDougall starts to fill in more backstory through our mind-reader’s – Val – narration, things become a bit less graceful. The history of Val recognizing her “powers,” and how that led to a partnership with her dad, is surely important, but it’s stuffed in to a few pages that executes massive dramatic leaps just to get us back to a point where the story can move on: in which the blackmailer is being blackmailed to use his daughter’s powers in a more devious way than he’d prefer.

This side of the story is also interesting, but feels similarly rushed to set up its stakes, losing some logic along the way.

I can appreciate the struggle to get all of this in to a mini-series – giving your reader a hook up front; giving them enough logic to justify the hook; providing some emotional context – and Buried Within works really well when it’s allowed to roll out at a normal pace, but the rush to frontload these pieces makes some of the more complex parts of the narration clunky, and lessens the ability to build up to its central plot appropriately.