Action Lab: Danger Zone’s Chainsaw Reindeer #1 (on sale September 10) is bonkers. Writer Brandon Rhiness takes the premise, a reindeer brandishing a chainsaw, and runs wild with it. He offers the reader an unrelenting gorefest and readers who like their comics with an extra serving of blood and guts will likely enjoy the ride.
Chainsaw Reindeer #1
Writer: Brandon Rhiness
Pencils & Inks: Carlos Trigo
Colors: Przemyslaw Dedelis
Letters: Chris Johnson
Rhiness almost exclusively focuses on the gratuitous violence, which produces an eye-opening story that’s light on substance. The main character, whom the series is named after, goes crazy and the subsequent killing spree takes him from the North Pole to Earth’s orbit and every in between. The titular character’s body count reads like a grocery list and it’s a doozy; he kills, amongst others, Santa Claus, the Loch Ness Monster, a leprechaun and, in total, over three billion people. The issue loses some steam after its enthralling beginning, where Chainsaw Reindeer brutally kills a morally monstrous Santa Claus.
This Santa is the most horrendous version of the character in recent memory. He’s more heinous than the imposter in Elf and the Robot Santa Claus from Futurama. This Kris Kingle is even more wicked than his counterpart in Weird Al’s “The Night Santa Went Crazy.” (This whole comic subverts the premise of that classic Christmas song.) Rhiness’ Santa mistreats Mrs. Claus (he tells her to shut up and mutters, “Bitch, you’re gonna get it one of these days,) he’s a terrible boss to his elves and he beats his reindeer. (Rhiness also implies that the abuse extends beyond physical violence.) Eventually, Chainsaw Reindeer gets revenge for these beatings and kills Santa in cold blood. Because Rhiness presents Santa as a vile villain, the reader roots for the the not-so-jolly Saint Nick’s demise. After Chainsaw Reindeer murders him, the unhinged protagonist delivers a one-liner that feels like it belongs in the latest action blockbuster starring Dwayne Johnson. (Imagining that the Reindeer was voiced by Johnson made the moment even more enjoyable.)
In a book with such a violent story, the art is particularly crucial to the comic’s success and the combination of penciler/inker Carlos Trigo and color artist Przemyslaw Dedelis bring the bloody script to life. In the most impactful scene, Trigo and Dedelis complement Chainsaw Reindeer’s dramatic invasion of Santa Claus’ home. The Reindeer is surrounded by dark shadows and the moonlight through the window mainly catches his eyes and the metal of the gun in his hands. Here, the stunning visual strengthens the suspenseful moment. Plus, Trigo and Dedelis help each and every murder feel gruesome with blood spatter that pops off the page and grisly depictions of the chainsaw annihilating the victims. By the end of the book, the constant stream of deaths makes them blur together in the narrative but the art team still makes them visually memorable.
In Chainsaw Reindeer #1, there’s not much to sink your teeth into once you look beyond the gore. But the delight from seeing a crazed reindeer killing an abusive Santa Claus is just too incredible to ignore. Interested readers should check out this comic because, if nothing else, you won’t read another one like it this year.
What’d you think of Chainsaw Reindeer #1? Do you want to see more of this series?