Comics, Reviews

The Deviant #1 Review: It's Killing Season

Get ready for the holidays with this new horror comic from the twisted and creative minds of James Tynion IV and Josh Hixson.

The Deviant #1 Review Cover
Image: Image Comics
By: Javier ReyesFeb 23, 2024, 2:23 AM

The Deviant #1

Review
Rating
9
Good
The Deviant #1 Full Cover

Writer: James Tynion IV

Artist: Josh Hixson

Publisher: Image Comics

Release Date: November 14, 2023

Page Count: 48

Format: Single-issue

Tynion and Hixson hit a horror home run for the holidays with The Deviant. The debut issue masterfully pulls you into its unsettling, gory, and psychologically captivating story centered on a very twisted man.

With Halloween over and Christmas just around the corner, what better way to celebrate the holiday season than by reading a horror comic about a serial killer dressed up as Santa Claus? That sounds like the perfect transition from one holiday to another! Writer James Tynion IV is back at it again with another intriguing horror comic ominously called “The Deviant.” Alongside artist Josh Hixson, Tynion delivers a story that’s equally bone-chilling and captivating. Want to know more? Let’s get to my review!

The Deviant #1 comic panel - man walking with Christmas vibesImage: Image Comics

Overview

In 1973, a man known as “The Deviant Killer” was convicted for gruesomely torturing and murdering men while dressed up as Santa Claus. Fifty years later, aspiring comic book writer Michael aims to write a story based on the heartless but fascinating man behind the mask. Michael regularly visits The Deviant Killer, whose real name is Randall Olsen, in prison to pick his brain and figure out an angle for his new story. However, the visits take an emotional and psychological toll on Michael, as he and Randall share a deep connection he either doesn’t realize or refuses to admit. Meanwhile, little do the two know that a new Deviant Killer is on the loose.

The Deviant #1 comic panel - 2 men talking at the tableImage: Image Comics

Review

Before I even started reading the comic, a lot about “The Deviant” caught my attention. I’m always intrigued by serial killer stories, let alone ones told through the pages of a comic. There’s something so fascinating about dissecting the mind of someone who’s become more monster than man. In the case of The Deviant, its mix of psychological themes and Christmastime aesthetics drew me in instantly. After all, nothing bad ever happens during Christmas, right? With Tynion behind the wheel and its ominous cover with pops of red from the Santa Claus costume, I could see this story going to very unsettling places. The comic ended up delivering so much more than I was expecting.

The debut issue does a masterful job of setting up the dark and psychological tone of the story. While the first half of the comic focuses more on the gruesome nature of the killings, the second half explores the fascination for the man behind the Santa Claus mask. Randall Olsen’s character feels very reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter with his cold yet charismatic demeanor. Tynion shows off his knack for writing sharp dialogue in how Randall methodically gets under Michael’s skin. Despite just being two people talking in a dark room, the interview between Michael and Randall is a powerful scene because it uniquely analyzes both characters. It shows Tynion's boldness in exploring topics like Michael’s homosexuality and establishing a parallelism with Randall’s own twisted life. The strange connection the two seem to share has me intrigued to see where their story together goes from here.

As much as I adored the writing in this issue, Josh Hixson’s art is what pushes the comic over the top. Admittedly, I was not familiar with Hixson’s work before reading this, but reading this has made me an instant fan. His visceral art style and beautiful use of colors make for an eerie aesthetic that pulls you into each panel. Especially in the comic’s more gory scenes, it’s beautifully unsettling to see scenes of bloody murder against a backdrop of Christmas trees, presents, and decorations.

The Deviant #1 comic panel - man in the bathroomImage: Image Comics

Final Thoughts

This debut issue is the perfect setup for what is shaping up to be a truly creepy and unsettling story. On top of delivering plenty of terrifyingly gory moments, the comic establishes a deeper story about a man looking to discover more about himself in the darkest places imaginable. Just from the scene between Michael and Randall alone, I’m hooked on seeing how their strange connection develops as the story progresses. I can imagine things will only get more twisted from here, and I can’t wait.

Why You Should Read The Deviant

  • Tynion delivers a sharp script that’s both captivating and unsettling.
  • Hixson’s art brings a mix of creepiness and vibrancy to the story’s ominous tone. 
  • The debut issue perfectly sets up the world and themes explored in the story.
TAGGED: Image Comics
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