As snow falls over Milwaukee in 1972, a blood-stained Santa Claus commits unimaginable atrocities against young men. Fifty years later, a troubled young writer interviews this so-called “Deviant Killer,” who still maintains his innocence from behind bars. And as Christmas approaches once again, the past returns, wielding a sharpened ax.
Eisner-winning writer JAMES TYNION IV (W0RLDTR33, THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH) and acclaimed artist JOSHUA HIXSON (The Plot, Children of the Woods) unite for a pitch-black holiday horror story.
Comic WatchHorror fans will find a lot to like here. Certainly there is the horror imagery such as the mutilated bodies and the rail thin killer Santa Clause. The flashback to Michael’s childhood where deviant activities, pardon the pun, became tied up with Maichel’s developing identity is ugly because of modern day events. And main character Michael…is somehow not right. The Deviant #1 is horror meant to disturb and discomfort. It succeeds at both.
Comic CrusadersBe warned, the book features language that some would find offensive; being locked in prison has given the alleged Deviant Killer something of a closed mind when it comes to looking at his own place within the world of 1973 and the following years. Tynion’s holiday of horror provides much thought provoking and unease. The most wonderful tine of the year? Humbug!
Geek'd OutWhile Tynion’s storytelling prowess is evident, he has a perfect partner in artist Joshua Hixson, who manages to move the narrative forward with nary a word. His character designs are simple, yet complex, evoking the likes of David Aja and Chris Samnee, while maintaining his own distinct style. Hixson handles moments both big and small, from the tiniest flicker of emotion in our protagonist’s face to a full-page scene of literal blood and guts. Not to be outdone, letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou manages to include his own artistic flair, from the large captions announcing a new set piece to the disturbing sound effects that seem to have an eerie texture of their own. Like the film Suspiria, The Deviant is a grotesque thing of beauty that will shake you to your very core. Don’t believe me? Pick up a copy and see for yourself…if you dare.
The Convention CollectiveThe first issue of The Deviant is unsettling, disturbing, and wrought with horror and at times it feels like it may be one of the most personal or introspective stories Tynion has written. You can’t help but get caught up in the psychological elements put on display in this book. Take away the sheer horror and there are some parts of this story and the characters themselves that are just plain sad. In this way Tynion does a fantastic balancing act of creating a purposely dramatic tone that he can build the horror around. Pushing the level of anxiety and intrigue to constantly climatic level peaks. There’s a fantastic conversation that is had between our young writer and the convicted killer that really sets the tone of this book. I have to imagine Tynion went to some very dark places to write this. Hixson works magic with the pencils dialing in the gore, details and setting of this book. I love the way it’s drawn and brought to life in true Christmas fashion. The book just looks great in general. The colors, lettering, and just all of it really work well. It’s a book that will give you all the chills and goosebumps this holiday season. Issue 2 of this 9 issue mini-series can’t get here soon enough for me.
Capes & TightsThe Deviant is an outstanding comic that is sure to become a classic. It’s the perfect blend of horror and holidays, brilliantly written and illustrated. The characters are relatable, the dialogue is sharp and witty, and the artwork is stunning. The Deviant is just what we needed in the wide world of comics.
Derby ComicsOverall, the issue reads like Miracle on 34th Street meets Fargo meets True Detective — a mashup I never knew I wanted or needed, but holy jingle bells do I know it now. I loved this issue so much and can’t wait to see what other horrors this team has planned for us. This ranks up there as not only one of the year’s best new debuts, but has the making of one of Tynion’s best series ever. Make a list, check it twice, buy The Deviant #1 on Wednesday, it’s beyond worth the price.
Multiversity Comics“The Deviant” #1 is a comic book that has a deep understanding of horror that goes far beyond surface level gore and crazy serial killers. This is a kind of creeping horror that lurks in the subconscious of its characters, ready to spring out at any moment, and while you can try and keep it down with bright lights and good company, it’s always there and can spring up at any moment.
AIPTThere’s something truly haunting and chilly about The Deviant, not unlike Robert Eggers’ The Witch. Mood and tension come together in an excellent opening issue that’s filled with unease. There’s a hopelessness that rings throughout that makes it hard to put this book down.
ComicBook.comThe Deviant #1 satisfies on multiple fronts. If you're just looking for a murder story set at Christmastime, the comic book delivers that ten times over. It's an excellent read for a cold, dark night. But if you're willing to get a little uncomfortable and allow The Deviant to tell you something about the world you don't already know, it becomes something truly special.
Lotusland ComicsThis is a quick review for a number of reasons but mostly because comic book fans already know whatever James Tynion IV writes is gold so this review is merely a formality. As a matter of fact, the first issue of 'The Deviant' has already sold out at the distributor level. So, yes, 'The Deviant' is good, a stylish suspenseful horror story about a killer Santa Claus who years later is interviewed by a troubled writer while still imprisoned for his crimes. He declares his innocence but is he? What unfolds is a tension-filled murder mystery that oozes style and terror. Tynion loves the horror genre and no doubt is influenced by master storytellers. In this case, Tynion does his best David Fincher, and like 'Zodiac' and 'Mindhunter,' 'The Deviant' has an eerie and chilling pace that offers some jump scares but also some psychological torment. The interview with the killer behind bars is just as captivating as the ones on 'Mindhunter.' Joshua Hixson's art sets the mood and instills overwhelming fright as panels search for what's lurking in the dark. The deliberate sequencing of events wrings every bit of fear and tension from the page. Tense and unnerving, Tynion and Hixson's 'The Deviant' delivers an atmospheric seasonal slasher story for the holidays with style. It's a white-knuckle thriller.
Comic Book RevolutionThe Deviant #1 is one of the most impressive first issues of a comic book we’ve had in 2023. James Tynion and Joshua Hixson knock it out of the park creating story you can’t help but be immersed by. This may be most terrifying version of Santa Clause we have seen. It’s definitely a must read for fans of horror.
GonkbonkTynion 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.
Graphic PolicyThe story as a whole is intriguing with some gruesome murders and two characters who are more psychological than slasher. You can see the influences for The Deviant #1 and it takes what works from them and uses them really well. More importantly, it’s just entertaining horror that promises to slash through the cheer of the holiday season and deliver a bloody good time.
The Comicbook DispatchA comic writer seeking a key to his past finds affinity with a condemned killer in The Deviant #1.
The Super Powered FancastThe Story: James Tynion IV crafts an interesting story in this first issue. While the premise got my attention and engaged me enough to keep reading, the amount of exposition in the story took away from the suspense. Many of the moments between Michael and Randall were things I wish were shown instead of relegated to exposition dumps in an interrogation room. The Art: Hixson’s art is brilliantly dark. The visual style is perfect for the type of story being created and the moments with the killer are brutally beautiful.