Todd: The Ugliest Kid on Earth #2 (of 4) Review: Too much toilet humor, too little story.
Such an interesting idea became a major disappointment with this issue, especially after such a superior first issue
. While there are some clever moments, that’s not enough to make up for the toilet humor, the poor pacing and the sometimes distorted artwork.
Todd is a young boy who always wears a paper bag over his head – supposedly because he’s so ugly. He has been mistaken for a homicidal maniac who has been murdering multiple young children. Now, Todd is stuck in jail and not only can his parents not make his bail… if his fellow prisoners have anything to say about it, Todd may not even make it to a trial!
What made me gravitate to Todd was the promise of a creative concept. Unfortunately, as soon as Todd’s placed behind bars his prison days are not unique. He gets put next to the clichéd pedophile, soap falls on the floor of the shower room (which actually doesn’t lead to the expected circumstances) and the “new fish” has to impress the other guys with insinuated rape and by shoving stuff up his rectum. These are prison atrocities we’ve heard or seen before in movies (hopefully just
movies). These “atrocities” aren’t always boring. Kristensen throws humor into a lot of the events of this issue, but the unique concept I came for is not at the forefront and Kristensen’s jokes…
Kristensen’s jokes are your normal mixture of hit-or-miss. He starts out with a barrage of witty remarks like a quip about “enablers” and a letter to Todd addressed to “maniac killer” (from his very own mother, of course). Kristensen also creates some great lines that are not only humorous but develop characters, specifically Todd’s parents who are surprisingly enjoyable. Even more so than Todd. In fact, that may be a big problem with this series. Todd is innocent and – dare I say – a bit more boring than sympathetic. At least in this issue.
Another character whose development I’m not too fond of is the serial killer. He doesn’t wear a mask or anything, we know what he looks like, so there isn’t any mystery there. At least we aren’t given a full name or address (though we do see his place). He’s also given very little dialogue and panel time. The only thing he really does is complain about his pizza. Unfortunately he doesn’t go on to behead the delivery boy.
The missed of Kristensen’s comedy are the jokes that rely mostly on toilet humor which I’ve never enjoyed and I think this title could manage to be above. There is a guy in this issue named Turd. That is how low the jokes sink.
Kristensen can also be very crude. Last issue, there weren’t many lines that would claw under people’s skin – more like scrape. But this issue there is one moment in particular where the improper names for lesbians are listed. This crude list had no purpose and I wish it was omitted. There was also a biblical allusion in Todd’s “maniac killer” letter which could upset some readers. The audience is being hindered somewhat by these choices and none of them are really necessary. If they’d had some deeper purpose I may be able to overlook them, but I can’t see them having any impact on the plot.
I have to say though, Kristensen knows how to be clever when he wants to (which makes those misses all the more cringe-worthy). He gets points from me for referencing “Seduction of the Innocent.” This was a book written by Dr. Frederic Wertham that claimed the comic book industry was filled with obscene images occult symbols, nudity and explicit sex. While some of the book’s views have merit (there are homicidal maniacs every which way I turn in comics today) overall the writer seemed to be picking on an easy target, similar to how video games have been thrown into the proverbial fire. So, it was nice to see Kristensen taking a shot at the controversial text by writing a controversial comic of his own and referencing the title by name. Wertham is turning in his grave. There are, of course, other clever lines, but nothing can compare to that one superb reference.
The biggest problem is, despite developing the characters, Kristensen doesn’t do much to forward the story. It seems all over the place, focusing on Todd, scenes between Todd’s father and mother and then scenes with them in separate situations, a scene with the killer… there “seems” to be a lot going on but overall it doesn’t feel like a lot was achieved. I can see Kristensen taking some of the scenes that appear unimportant scenes and making them more important in future issues (like Leigh’s little “fling”) but there are just so many of them. Then, the story ends abruptly and doesn’t have much of a cliffhanger. It won’t be leaving any readers clamoring for the next issue based off that ending alone.
M.K. Perker continues his distinct style that separates Todd stylistically from other current titles. The exaggerated style of the character still mimics Mad magazine like I’ve mentioned before which is perfect for the tone of the comic, but there were some missteps in the artwork this issue. The character designs need more variation. In this issue there is Todd’s mother, Leigh, and then Belinda, a movie actress who could be her twin. One character, Todd’s father, looks deformed in one panel. Later, Leigh has bags under her eyes that get progressively worse across panels, indicating the lack of consistency in the artwork on that page. However, all of these moments are just that: moments. They don’t define the entire issue’s art… but the colors by Cemal Syleyen do. It is very dreary, which does contribute to the dark tone, but it can make the artwork boring to look at after several pages because there is little contrast in the colors. I’d understand that on a single page but throughout the issue there are no contrasting colors to alleviate the reader. These are the little things that got on my nerves about the otherwise solid and fitting artwork.
I really have no idea where this story is going and if I was just basing my opinion on this issue, I would say I don’t care. The narrative lacks focus and it’s hard to see where Kristensen’s going with this – it could become a masterpiece or a flop after this issue. This issue felt more insulting and less creative than the last. But since that first issue was good and the concept overall has potential, it is the only thing keeping me finishing this mini-series. Well, that and Todd’s parents, who always have their enjoyable moments regardless of which issue I am reading.
Let’s just hope for a little less toilet humor and a little more story next issue.