Reviews, Comics

The Deviant #4 Review: A Slow Burn Masterclass

Dive into the most personal issue of The Deviant, James Tyion IV and Josh Hixson’s unnerving horror series from Image Comics.

The Deviant 4 Review Cover
Image: Image Comics
By: Javier ReyesFeb 23, 2024, 2:07 AM

The Deviant #4

Review
Rating
9
Good
The Deviant 4 Review Cover

Writer: James Tynion IV

Artist: Josh Hixson

Publisher: Image Comics

Release Date: February 14, 2024

Page Count: 32

Format: Single-issue

In a turning point of an issue, The Deviant #4 delivers a beautifully captivating and unnerving story focused on Michael’s growing obsession with the Deviant Killer.

James Tynion IV is one of the hardest-working and most prolific writers in comics today. He’s in a league of his own, with ongoing series from Image Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and BOOM! Studios. Not to mention, he’s the most recent winner of the Eisner for Best Writer. Yet, with so many feathers in his cap already, it’s fascinating to see him constantly come up with new and inventive stories. The Deviant is among his latest ongoing comics and is arguably one of his most personal and haunting stories today. So, how does it hold up next to Tynion’s other great works? Continue reading my advanced review of The Deviant #4 to find out! 

Overview

Comic book writer Michael makes a breakthrough in his latest project focused on the story of Randall, The Deviant Killer. However, because he’s immersed himself so much in his work, he’s unknowingly neglecting his partner, Derek. Little does Michael know that his passion project has also attracted the attention of others with connections to the Deviant Killer. As much as he’s working himself into a pit of despair, he’s far too deep to turn back now.

The Deviant 4 - guys in a partyImage: Image Comics

Review

When The Deviant was announced, it enamored me with its concept of a bloody horror story set during Christmastime. On paper, it made me think of those hokey slasher films from the 80s that featured villains who looked more like mascots than killers. But instead of being a blood-soaked romp like Friday the 13th, the comic has unwrapped itself as something more like the series Mindhunter. With its methodical pace and unnerving visuals, each issue has been a deep exploration of the characters’ dark psyches. Calling The Deviant a slow burn is an understatement, but issues like this latest one make the payoffs more worthwhile. While that slower-paced storytelling may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there is a subtle sense of thrill as the story reveals more details about the characters and the atrocities committed by the Deviant Killer (from both the past and present).

This latest issue feels like Tynion’s most personal installment yet, as the story dives deeper into Michael’s obsessive personality, his fascination with true crime, and the darkness slowly brewing inside him. I find the series to be most fascinating when it explores its themes of queerness and self-identity through the lens of The Deviant Killer’s story. Not only does this issue put a spotlight on Michael’s growing obsession with Randall, but it also shows Randall himself acting like a seemingly normal person who’s just a little quirky. The way the story is written and paced leaves so many possibilities open to be theorized and nitpicked, just like the true crime stories that Michael himself is drawn to so much. 

The Deviant 4 - guys outside the gateImage: Image Comics

Artist Josh Hixson also continues to be an absolute gem in this series. His flawless use of colors and thick dark lines creates an eeriness to the art that keeps you tense and captivated on whatever the scene may be. Even the early flashback scene of Michael and Derek partying in a nightclub feels subtly unsettling to look at. Mix that in with his knack for illustrating unnerving facial expressions, and you’ve got art that can make you feel afraid with every minute detail. It’s amazing to look back on the series and realize so much of the story is told through mundane face-to-face conversations. It goes to show that it’s the more subtle touches that make moments feel more horrifying.

Final Thoughts

James Tynion IV and Josh Hixson deliver a gift of an issue filled with surprises and revelations. The slow and careful pace of the series pays off in this issue, as it caps off with a massive turning point in the story. If you’re someone who loves dark true crime stories, just like Michael himself, then you must check out and catch up on this series. James Tynion is putting out some of his best work here with a story that’s careful about revealing what is behind the mask bit by bit.

The Deviant 4 - two guys talkingImage: Image Comics

Why You Should Read The Deviant

  • Josh Hixson’s art perfectly sets the tone for the dark and unnerving story to unfold.
  • The story takes on a methodical pace to dissect the minds and lives of its characters.
  • The character writing throughout this issue is James Tynion IV at his most personal.
TAGGED: Image Comics
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