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The Deviant #1 (of 9)

Comicscore Index
Universal acclaim

Based on 15 critic ratings.


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.

Publication Date
Kindle Edition
Print Lenght
50 pages
Amazon ASIN

15 Critic Ratings & Reviews from:
  • 100

    Comic Watch

    Horror 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.
  • 100

    Comic Crusaders

    Be 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!
  • 100

    Geek'd Out

    While 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.
  • 100

    The Convention Collective

    The 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.
  • 100

    Capes & Tights

    The 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.
  • 100

    Derby Comics

    Overall, 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.
  • 92

    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.
  • 90


    There’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.
  • 90

    The 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.
  • 90

    Lotusland Comics

    This 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.
  • 90

    Comic Book Revolution

    The 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.
  • 90


    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.
  • 85

    Graphic Policy

    The 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.
  • 84

    The Comicbook Dispatch

    A comic writer seeking a key to his past finds affinity with a condemned killer in The Deviant #1.
  • 76

    The Super Powered Fancast

    The 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.

More From The Deviant (2023)

About the Author: James Tynion IV

James Tynion IV (born December 14, 1987) is an American comic book writer. He is best known for his work on the Batman franchise at DC Comics.

Early life

James Tynion IV was born December 14, 1987, and grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he attended Marquette University High School. While studying creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College, Tynion met and began studying under Scott Snyder, in the nascent years of his comic book writing career. Following school, he became an intern for the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics, working under Editor Shelly Bond, among others.


After a few years working in advertising, Scott Snyder asked Tynion to co-write the back-up features for the New 52 relaunch of Batman, in the midst of the acclaimed “Night of the Owls” comic book storyline, starting with Batman #8. In this comic, he tied the Court of Owls mythology to Alfred Pennyworth’s father, Jarvis Pennyworth, working with noted American Vampire artist, Rafael Albuquerque. Tynion went on to co-write Batman Annual #1 with Snyder, for artist Jason Fabok, which reintroduced classic Batman villain Mr. Freeze into the present day continuity. Continuing on the back-up stories in the main Batman title, Tynion launched a spin-off of the Night of the Owls storyline with the ongoing comic series, Talon, which ran for 18 issues. Tynion followed up Talon with a brief stint on the title Red Hood and the Outlaws in which he re-introduced a number of members of The League of Assassins back into Batman continuity.

In 2013, Tynion paired with artist Jeremy Rock to co-create his first original comic series, The Eighth Seal, for Mark Waid‘s digital comic publisher Thrillbent. The series, an apocalyptic blend of political intrigue and body horror, was nominated for the 2013 Ghastly Award for Best Web Comic. Tynion followed up the series with an additional digital horror comic for Thrillbent, The House In The Wall, co-written by Noah J. Yuenkel and drawn by Eryk Donovan.

In 2014, Tynion launched his two biggest series to date. He was named as one of the head writers of Batman Eternal, a weekly Batman comic series designed to explore the full scope and cast of Gotham City. The series would bring classic Batman characters like Carmine Falcone, Hush, Vicki Vale, Stephanie Brown, Cassandra Cain and the original Azrael, Jean-Paul Valley, into the New 52 DC continuity. He also launched the original series The Woods, for BOOM! Studios, with artist Michael Dialynas, which proved to be the highest selling original series at that publisher since Mark Waid’s Irredeemable, with the first issue selling out on a distributor level. The series was given an unprecedented full series order, guaranteeing that it will run to its planned conclusion at issue #36. He followed up The Woods with a three-issue apocalyptic horror miniseries for BOOM! Studios, titled Memetic, which paired him with artist Eryk Donovan once again.

In 2015, Tynion was announced as one of the co-writers of the new Constantine: The Hellblazer series alongside Ming Doyle and artist Riley Rossmo, as a part of the DCYou publishing initiative at DC Comics. Tynion also was announced as the writer of the Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crossover with DC and IDW Publishing, the first meeting between the two franchises. The series launched in December 2015 as DC Comics’ sixth best selling title for the entire year. He also launched two new creator owned series through Boom! Studios, UFOlogy, co-written by Noah J. Yuenkel with art by Matt Fox, and Cognetic, the spiritual sequel to Memetic with artist Eryk Donovan.

At Wondercon in 2016, James Tynion IV was announced as the writer of the biweekly Detective Comics for DC’s Rebirth initiative. The new series launched in June of that year with the classic numbering restored starting with issue #934, and featured Batman and Batwoman as co-leads alongside an initial team of Red Robin, Spoiler, Orphan and Clayface.

Tynion has worked on a number of additional titles for DC Comics, BOOM! Studios, Marvel Comics, IDW Publishing, and Thrillbent. Tynion became the new writer for Batman as of (vol. 3) #86.

In September 2020, DC Comics announced that Tynion would be among the creators of a revived Batman: Black and White anthology series to debut on December 8, 2020.

Personal life

James Tynion IV is openly bisexual.

[Latest Update: May 28, 2022]