The very title of this comic provides potential readers with a general idea of what is contained within, and the cover of James Tynion IV, Noah J. Yuenkel and Matthew Fox’ “UFOlogy” #1 gives them a more specific preview. With that notion simply and effectively established this way, the very first panel of the story looks to the stars, and the late-night radio voiceover shares some veiled insight as to some past mysterious happenings in the small town of Mukawgee, Wisconsin. By the end of the second page, the first of the issue’s two main characters is introduced, a debut that’s perfectly paced by writers and artist alike, making for a welcoming start to an accessible and intriguing story.
Fox’s cover follows the old-school sales tactic of grabbing a buyer’s eye with an image that’s actually somewhat representative of the events inside. Yes, it gives away a scene from late in the issue but, being an introductory issue, there’s no background to give the events on the cover any context, so the column of light above a lone house is a big enough mystery on its own; the direction of the beam of light, for instance, might not be as obvious as one might think.
Tynion and Yuenkel first introduce Becky, a college-bound student who — within the span of one page — is shown to have an interest in criminal justice. That’s far from the extent of her character, though, as the writers reveal soon enough. Before that happens, Malcolm — another student from her school — is also presented, but Fox and colorist Adam Metcalfe usher in the character with some confusing similarities. Both Becky and Malcolm are shown with similar builds and disheveled black hair; the writers give both a passive kind of disinterest in school and their general present situations. It’s not until Malcolm’s name is mentioned on the second page of his debut that it’s clear readers are learning about another character. It becomes straightforward enough at that point, especially when the two meet, but it’s an unwelcome bump in what had been a smoothly ramped-up story.
Momentary bump aside, Tynion and Yuenkel’s story regains its momentum after that. There’s a lively and revealing discourse between the two students before shifting towards Malcolm, his fascination with the stars and his relationship with his father, which brings more meaning to the narrative seen at the start of the issue. When the story returns to Becky, the principles have been established, so the writers finally start throwing the expected weirdness into the mix.
Fox’s art nicely paces the story, but his execution is a little crude, beyond just the aforementioned uncertainty with the characters’ appearances. Many of them look a little stiff at times and are largely unremarkable. Fox does a little better with rendering the elements that truly are noteworthy, like the strange happenings inside the house seen on the cover. These occurrences are all too brief, though, and Fox therefore doesn’t get much opportunity to really excel in this issue beyond the cover. Metcalfe goes for a garish, almost psychedelic vibe during the sci-fi scenes and carries much of this throughout the issue, using secondary colors almost exclusively and oddly tinting them. Collectively, the art and colors evoke a strange underground comix kind of feel that doesn’t really jive with the “X-Files” atmosphere of the story.
“UFOlogy” #1 is brought down somewhat by its look, but it’s carried by Tynion and Yuenkel’s characters and setting. Poetically brought to a close by the ending narration, it’s a nicely compiled setup overall for the remainder of this six-issue miniseries.