Kristensen and Perker dish up an unfortunate attempt at old-school underground that forgets to provide context or meaning for its antics.
Whether it’s for the sake of publicity or to serve some concept of higher art, some pieces of literature seem to be designed to offend. Sometimes it works and the story is better for it; sometimes, though, the creators become so involved in constructing a bawdy satire that both plot and execution fall by the wayside. Image Comics’ Todd, the Ugliest Kid on Earth fits neatly into that second category.
Todd is, without a doubt, the ugliest kid on earth. Todd is so ugly, in fact, that he is forced to wear a paper bag over his head for the benefit of society. Todd’s bad luck doesn’t stop at his looks, though. Through a series of improbable misunderstandings, the local police chief identifies Todd as the town’s Maniac Killer, a child murderer with a penchant for decapitation, landing him behind bars alongside a cadre of hardened convicts.
Police Chief Hargrave is incompetent enough that even his own young daughter isn’t exempt from his paranoid suspicions. So it’s only natural that, when the new girl in the neighborhood winds up dead, eight-year-old Todd is Hargrave’s prime suspect.
For some reason.
Things don’t get better, or more coherent, from there. Todd’s misadventure in jail leads to an encounter with members of the Aryan brotherhood and more than a few jokes at the expense of child rape. The title character himself is conspicuously absent from large portions of the book, while the story turns to follow our secondary characters, focusing in particular on the bar-crawling pastimes of his alcoholic stepfather, and the continuing Maniac Killer investigation (or lack thereof) led by Chief Hargrave.
From panel to panel, M.K. Perker’s art varies between exaggerated caricature and a more tightly constructed style in a way that can sometimes be distracting. On the writing end of things, writer Ken Kristensen’s dialogue has its moments, though they are few and far between. The pacing is fairly even throughout, even if the story itself isn’t anything to write home about. For all its faults, the subject matter might be tolerable if the comic weren’t so utterly devoid of character development.
It’s not that Todd is a truly horrible comic, and it’s not that it isn’t funny, from time to time, in its own dark way, but it just doesn’t serve much of a purpose. When all is said and done, there doesn’t seem to be a point to any of it. Plenty of creators have managed to take a concept that would otherwise be in bad taste and turn it into a great story with a valid point, but this, unfortunately, is not one of those stories.
Ken Kristensen (W), M.K. Perker (A), Cemal Soyleyen (C) • Image Comics, $9.99, August 7, 2013.