Sick of his status as an intergalactic dung-shoveler, a young boy makes plans to become the King of Space.
Here is another variant on the boy-dreams-of-ruling-the-universe tale, with little tweaks here and there to make it Duddle’s own, but it’s threadbare in terms of originality. Rex lives in the Gamma Quadrant on a moog (cows in spacesuits) farm. He might be a futuristic cowherd now, but he has something else in mind. He cons a friend of his into helping him build warbots and a Dastardly Dung Ray to make good his King of Space scheme. He subdues the Western Spiral and then crowns himself, which brings down the wrath of the Galactic Alliance. After Rex kidnaps the daughter of the emperor, the Alliance corners Rex, who gives up and lets his mother save his bacon. Yes, all of this is told with tongue in cheek, but Rex is really a schmuck. He lies to his friend, wastes part of the galaxy, kidnaps a girl (and demeans her: “Would my future queen like some choco-goo? Would you? Huh?”), then cravenly throws the disaster in his mother’s lap. Story aside—but then, what’s the point?—Duddle’s artwork beguiles in a way that Rex never will, with highly inventive deep-space creatures in the steampunk mode, minus the steam.
With a hero so devoid of sympathy, this story sinks despite the buoyancy of its splendid illustrations. (Picture book. 4-8)