Comic Book / The Thing from Another World
The Thing from Another World
is a comic series by Dark Horse Comics
. Though sharing the same name as the film The Thing from Another World
, in actuality it's a continuation of the storyline of John Carpenter's The Thing
, presumably taking the name of the earlier adaptation to avoid confusion with the Marvel character who shares his name with Carpenter's film.
The series comprises five stories:
- The Thing from Another World — 1991, 2 issues, written by Chuck Pfarrer, artwork by John Higgins. MacReady is rescued by a Japanese research vessel, but quickly escapes and destroys what remains of Outpost 31. An American commando team finds him, but after their extraction goes badly wrong, they are forced to trek to an Argentinian base for help.
- The Thing from Another World: Climate of Fear — 1992, 4 issues, written by John Arcudi, pencils by Jim Somerville. After an unsuccessful attempt to kill the Thing by drowning it at the end of the previous story, MacReady is taken to mainland Argentina. Unfortunately, one of the Argentinian party is infected, and MacReady faces the challenge of stopping the Thing in a much warmer climate.
- The Thing from Another World: Eternal Vows — 1993, 4 issues, written by David DeVries, pencils by Paul Gulacy. An American fisherman is infected by a piece of the Thing left over at the end of the first story, and subsequently infects his New Zealander girlfriend, though this time the Things intend to quietly survive together rather than assimilating everything in sight. MacReady shows up once again to put an end to that plan.
- The Thing from Another World: Questionable Research — 1993, written by Ed Martin, pencils by Ted Naifeh. Ignoring the three previous stories, an American research team visits the remnants of Outpost 31 and salvages all the surviving Thing biomatter. It turns out that Blair's prediction of how quickly the Thing could assimilate all life on Earth was about twenty times too slow, and predictably Things start thawing out and escaping. Unlike the other stories in the series, this was a four-part story serialized in Dark Horse Presents.
- The Thing: The Northman Nightmare — 2011, written by Steve Niles, artwork by Patric Reynolds. Released as a web-exclusive tie-in to The Thing (2011), a second Thing spacecraft is revealed to have landed in Greenland over a millennium before the events of the films. A party of Vikings arrive in a remote village to find that most of its population has been slaughtered, and that the survivors are not who they appear to be.
These comics contains examples of:
- Art Shift: The first story is drawn entirely with colored pencils, with the following ones all adopting a more traditional inked style. Questionable Research also shifts its art style to a much sketchier one between the second and third issues, due to the latter half of the story having a different inker. The Northman Nightmare uses a style that's a mix of the first story's style and those of the subsequent ones.
- Author Appeal: Chuck Pfarrer, who wrote the first story, was formerly a Navy SEAL, which probably goes a long way to explaining the increased emphasis on military hardware.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Outside of Questionable Research and The Northman Nightmare, we never see a detailed transformation of a female Thing in any of the comics. Eternal Vows goes to bizarre lengths to play this trope straight, as the Jenny-Thing transforms herself into a copy of the freighter's captain, which in turn transforms into a monstrous form when MacReady works out who the Thing is.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: In the last issue of Climate of Fear, Agapito suggests attacking the Things, saying that even if they die they'll die as men, not monsters. Similarly, in Eternal Vows Detective Rowan shoots himself before he can be assimilated.
- Body Horror: In spades, with Climate of Fear being the most graphic of the four comics in this regard.
- Contemptible Cover: The cover of Eternal Vows issue two depicts a Thing breaking up from under the floorboards and attacking Jenny, who of course is wearing lingerie... despite the fact that anyone who had read the first issue probably knows that Jenny had already been fully transformed into a Thing by the end of the that issue.
- Contrived Coincidence:
- Late in the first story, MacReady, Childs and the Argentinians chase an escaping Thing as it leaves their base. Several hours later they give up the search for the time being and head back to their base, only for Childs to luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it) stumble into a crevasse which the Thing was hiding in.
- After completing her transformation into a Thing in Eternal Vows, Jenny lures a man close to her via a Wounded Gazelle Gambit and attempts to consume him, only to discover that the guy just happens to be the Powell-Thing, who for some bizarre reason decided to kill one of his crewmates, take on his form, and then turn the dead crewmate into a copy of his own body.
- Cute Monster Girl: Jenny, and later Sharon from Eternal Vows, which are supposed to be sympathetic and "sexy". Averted with every female crewmember bar one in Questionable Research, and all the female villagers in The Northman Nightmare, which are treated no differently from the male infectees and in the latter's case are meant to invoke creepy shamans.
- Death by Sex: A variation in Eternal Vows; Powell has sex with Jenny at the beginning of the first issue, which leaves enough Thing cells in her system to fully transform her by the end of the issue.
- Downer Ending: Questionable Research, big-time. A seagull has been infected by the Thing, and if the scientists' estimates are correct, will infect the whole world within six months.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Childs is revealed to be a Thing at the end of the third issue of Climate of Fear... and then is very unceremoniously blown up just a few pages into the fourth issue, and never mentioned again.
- Dull Surprise: Despite having generally better artwork than the previous comic, Eternal Vows tends to have its characters react to shocking events with virtually no change in their expression.
- Dumb Muscle:
- Just about all of the American marines seen in the first story, to the point where the lone survivor seemingly changes his mind from page to page as to whether or not the Things actually exist, despite seeing one wipe out his unit. The Argentinian soldiers seen later (and then in Climate of Fear) generally do a much better job of averting this trope.
- Justified by the Vikings in The Northman Nightmare, who for obvious reasons aren't particularly well educated.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: After everything he's been through, MacReady finally gets a relatively happy ending in Climate of Fear... though Eternal Vows makes it ambiguous as to whether that's going to last.
- Failed a Spot Check: Somehow, none of the researchers in Questionable Research notice a decent-size portion of the Blair-Thing's remains snapping off as they carry it into their helicopter. Needless to say, this has very bad consequences later on.
- Handicapped Badass: Agapito in the last part of Climate of Fear, after he slices off his own arm to prevent being infected.
- Inner Monologue: Played straight by MacReady in all the comics he appears in, mostly when he doesn't have anyone else to talk to. Played with by Eternal Vows, where the various Things have both their own Inner Monologue and that of the person who originally infected them, as distinct personalities.
- Mad Scientist: The Argentinian head scientist seen in Climate of Fear is pretty obviously this, and a major Jerkass to boot, which eventually culminates in him provoking one of the soldiers into shooting him dead. Or not, since it actually turns out he's a Thing.
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: Kind of inevitable, since the first story has no named female characters at all, while Climate of Fear has only one, Dr. Viale, (who ends up being one of only three survivors, along with Agapito and MacReady). Averted by Eternal Vows, Questionable Research and The Northman Nightmare, which have male and female characters being killed/infected in roughly equal measure.
- Ms. Fanservice: Jenny Campbell from Eternal Vows spends most of the comic running around in her underwear... though this is somewhat offset by the fact that tentacles frequently erupt from her torso and kill/infect people.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
- Thanks to a healthy all-around dose of the Idiot Ball, the research team from Questionable Research may well have doomed all life on Earth to eventual Thing infection.
- MacReady's arrival in Eternal Vows ends up with the entire town of Wallace being infected and ultimately burned down, apparently killing everyone. Odds are everyone would have eventually died from being eaten by the Thing-ified Powell and Jenny anyway, but the former mentions that it would have taken several years to get through them all, so MacReady certainly sped the process up. In the last issue, MacReady himself actually acknowledges that he royally screwed up his handling of the situation.
- Oh Crap!: Two of surviving research team members in Questionable Research have this reaction at the end of the third issue when they discover that all the Thing specimens have escaped. The last survivor has an even bigger moment of this at the end of the comic (see Downer Ending above).
- Off Model: Though Climate of Fear has undoubtedly the best renditions of the Things in any of the five comics, the artists can't quite seem to decide how they want to draw the human characters, whose appearance tends to differ drastically from panel to panel.
- Out of Focus: MacReady for the first half of Climate of Fear, due to him mentally snapping and then being tranquillized by Agapito. Fortunately, he gets his mojo back for the second half. Eternal Vows as well, though as mentioned below that's mostly a Villain Episode.
- Paranoia Fuel: In-universe the Thing is this as much as ever, though oddly enough Climate of Fear is the only one of the comics that really takes this and runs with it. The first story downplays it, Eternal Vows only loosely uses it due to it being in a civilian setting where the locals are ignorant of the Thing's existence, and the scientists in Questionable Research are just Too Dumb to Live.
- Properly Paranoid: For once, Climate of Fear has the person who everyone suspects of being a Thing from the very start (namely Dr. Deseado) actually turn out to be infected.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The nameless Argentinian commander in the first story, and Agapito from Climate of Fear.
- Recycled IN ARGENTINA!: For the first two issues, Climate of Fear follows the 1982 film beat-for-beat. A crazy man shows up at a foreign nation's camp. A domesticated animal turns out to be a Thing infectee. The camp members start turning on one another and accusing each other of being infected. The Thing builds a spaceship. Finally, a blood test is conducted at gunpoint. Starting with issue three however, the comic starts to go in its own direction a little more.
- Red Shirt Army: Every story gets one for the Things to devour en masse. The American and Argentinian soldiers in the first story, the mainland Argentinians in Climate of Fear, the freighter crew in Eternal Vows, and then the research team in Questionable Research.
- Scenery Porn: The first story has some beautiful renditions of the Antarctic.
- Series Continuity Error:
- The first story depicts the Things as being able to instantly transform a victim into another Thing in a matter of seconds just by briefly touching them, even if the other person is wearing clothing. Never mind that if this were true, the Thing(s) in the film would have been able to infect every member of Outpost 31 in about ten minutes.
- On top of making a ton of retcons as to how the Thing works, Eternal Vows mistakenly identifies the research team that first dug it up as being Swedish, rather than Norwegian.
- Super Drowning Skills: Childs theorizes that this applies to the Thing at the end of the first story, when he floods the submarine in order to kill it. It doesn't. At least not completely, as part of the Thing escapes and infects an Argentinian soldier at the start of Climate of Fear, while another piece survives by turning itself into a fish, setting up Eternal Vows.
- The End... Or Is It?:
- At the end of Eternal Vows we see the last remaining piece of the Jenny-Thing transform into a fish to survive, after which it joins a shoal of other fish. On the one hand, it seems to want to carry on its original form's desire to just consume other life-forms to sustain itself... but on the other hand, it's entirely possible that the fish could get caught, infect whoever catches or eats it, and then start the whole mess again.
- The Northman Nightmare ends with the implication that at least one of the two surviving Vikings is infected.
- Too Dumb to Live: Freaking everyone other than MacReady, and Agapito from Climate of Fear. Even the Things can be this, most noticeably the infected soldier early in the first story, who inexplicably turns into a monster right as he was about to be rescued, then wildly starts shooting around, both killing potential victims and destroying a helicopter that could have taken him to somewhere he could assimilate even more people.
- Villain Decay: Whereas in the film in the two previous comics the Things were depicted as being eager to infect and assimilate all life on Earth, Eternal Vows for some unexplained reason just has Powell and Jenny remaining mostly human mentally, and just deciding to stay in one town and consume its residents to sustain themselves. Lessened later on however, after Jenny infects a local Casanova Wannabe and then her co-worker, who immediately start behaving like all the other Things and starts off a new wave of assimilation. Even then however, the newly-created Things take to just attacking everyone in sight during broad daylight, though for what it's worth this is consistent with the comics' portrayal, where Things are capable of transforming their victims in mere seconds.
- Villain Episode: Unlike the other stories, Eternal Vows is mostly written from the Things' point of view, with MacReady not even making his entrance until the second issue.
- Wham Episode: The second issue of Climate of Fear is set up to be this, with MacReady apparently being revealed to be a Thing. In actual fact however, the real Wham Episode is the third one, where it turns out that Childs is a Thing.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: A Japanese research vessel shows up and rescues MacReady at the start of the first story. Mac thanks them by stealing their helicopter and flying back to the remains of Outpost 31, after which they're never seen or mentioned again.
- You Don't Look Like You: Eternal Vows features a straightforward variant, in that MacReady is drawn to resemble a mostly clean-shaven Kurt Russell rather than his appearance in the film and the previous two comics, and one very odd variant in that the Things have somehow acquired the ability to kill people and then swap forms with them.
- Zombie Infectee: Jenny in the first issue of Eternal Vows, though she isn't revealed as being such until the end of the issue, when tentacles erupt from her body and consume her pet cat while she's still mentally a human. In the third issue, a woman is attacked and infected by a Thing late in the story, but quickly torched by MacReady as the Thing cells begin to take over her mind.