Alternative Character Interpretation: Is the Thing the vanguard of an Alien Invasion, as the soldiers speculate? Or is it a frightened being stranded alone on an alien world, viciously attacked immediately upon regaining consciousness, and justifiably working to defend itself?
One might believe that at first, but the alien had many opportunities to either leave or make its peaceful intentions clear. It didn't do either.
On the flip side of this, the team lead by Captain Hendry. Are they really valiant defenders of Earth's humanity? Or are they intolerant small-minded bigots that attack whoever and whatever they don't understand?
Notice even the teams' most innocent and jovial comments are laced in a condescending or dismissive tone when it comes to the Thing. Not once does Hendry ever reprimand the young solider for shooting the alien when it awoke. Not to mention everyone noting how creepy it looks while frozen. It's obvious from the beginning they're not "bad" people. But it's very apparent that they're products of their time.
More specifically, by destroying the pods, were they eliminating an invading army from outer space? Or murdering innocent alien infants? The fact that it was the professor and not the Thing who was growing them doesn't help to clear up the issue.
Fair for Its Day: The female lead really only exists as an added love interest (though to be fair the movie didn't have a whole lot in common with its source material, so this is one of the more minor changes). However, she is probably one of the most memorable characters in the movie. Much like Hildy Johnson, she is sharp-witted, intelligent, and far from submissive. Even while most of the choices are put in the hands of the men, she gets a few moments (a memorable case being when the fact that she wasn't involved with an argument among the men allowed her to be the first to notice that the Thing was cutting off the heat). Also despite being in a horror movie from the 1950's, she manages to avoid any kind of Distressed Damsel situation and never once screams in the movie (the only time she actually raised her voice was near the very end, and that was because she was trying to alert the protagonist to a very legitimate problem).
Memetic Mutation: "Watch the skies, everywhere! Keep looking. Keep watching the skies!"
There's also the scene where The Thing gets doused with gasoline and set ablaze, and continues to rampage around a cramped, darkened room, setting everything else on fire in the process.
Part of the problem is time. A lot of the Horror techniques we see every day were invented in this movie. In the early 50s, they were absolutely shocking. The fact that it still can give chills so many years later is a testament to how well it was done.
Narm Charm: "An intellectual carrot! The mind boggles..."
Signature Scene: The crew spreads out to stand at every edge of the ship they find to determine its shape, and end up in a circle. So iconic it was repeated in the remake in the Norwegian teams tapes.
Visual Effects of Awesome: The scene in which The Thing is set ablaze still holds up to this day. Dousing the Thing with kerosene, having a flare shot at it, as the entire room goes up in flames, and there are no stunt doubles. (James Arness was the first ever to wear a full body flame retardant suit — but it also had oxygen air tank inside, meaning he was very much in danger of dying!) To up the scene's tenseness, the Thing swipes at Nikki, who is fending it off with a pillow, setting it ablaze — and then another kerosene attack sets the room further on fire, including where the actress was. Few similar scenes have matched it since.
Both Erskine and the helicopter pilot suddenly turn out to be infected in the second half of the first comic, even though the Pybus-Thing didn't seem to get close enough to either of them to infect them, and there would have been no reason for them not to assimilate MacReady while they were trying to find the Argentinian base. One could argue that one (or both) of them became a Zombie Infectee during the fight with the Pybus-Thing and we just didn't see it, with full assimilation not happening until after they'd been found by Childs and the Argentinians, but this leads to another example...
Pybus himself is implied to have gone from being fully human to being fully assimilated in a matter of minutes, all from touching a Thing's remains through a glove. On top of that, he then destroys the evac helicopter for no readily obvious reason, other than to provide an action sequence.
The revelation in Eternal Vows that Things can not only change their own form at will, but kill someone and change the victim's body into a copy of their own, is something that comes out of absolutely nowhere.
Awesome Art: The first series is praised for a borderline realistic art style that even mimics the movie. It's even pointed out as an advantage over the follow-ups going for more traditional designs that would fit any superhero comic.
Bizarro Episode: Eternal Vows differs from both the film and the previous two comics in so many ways (particularly in the first issue, which doesn't feature MacReady or anything else readily identifiable from its predecessors) that many fans have speculated it wasn't actually a Thing (from Another World) story originally, and was hurriedly turned into one so that Dark Horse could shove it out the door before the license came up for renewal.
Agapito from Climate of Fear, due to his badassery (including slicing off his own arm and being hardly slowed down) and being by far the most intelligent original character from any of the four comics.
To a lesser extent, Detective-Sergeant Rowan from Eternal Vows, for being a rare instance of a helpful and comparatively intelligent authority figure.
Idiot Plot: In sharp contrast to the 1982 film, often praised for having one of the most intelligent and logical casts in horror cinema, this is the one thing that even the better ones suffer from. The stupidity of the characters is the driving force of the stories.
Inferred Holocaust: In Climate of Fear. The Thing has made it not just South America, but a pretty well populated jungle. Given that the film made it very clear it was game over if the Thing ever made out of the Antarctic, then regardless of what happens to the ones that take over the humans it's probably a safe bet that there are Things assimilating everything around them and getting ready to take over.
It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: The biggest criticism of the first comic is that it doesn't really add much over the film, other than MacReady taking on the Thing with a lot more in the way of military hardware.
Narm: All of the miniseries aside from The Northman Nightmare suffer from a severe case "writers-take-silly-dialogue-or-actions-as-threatening-itis", with a few notorious examples include:
Childs Thing. Not only does it look a bit like an offensive black stereotype, it also goes full on Rambo in one of the most hilarious sequences in the whole of the franchise.
Dr. Viale pining over MacReady while admitting she's only known him for a day.
The Things' bizarre fixation on having been a fish in Eternal Vows.
Jenny-Thing's hair springing up like it was electrocuted whenever she's assimilating people.
Narm Charm: Agapito. Dude's a seriously overthetop badass, cutting off his own arm to prevent assimilation and chewing MacReady for his "cowardice". He is a walking action protagonist cliché, and you will love him for it.
Nightmare Retardant: Eternal Vows for the franchise. Remember, every time the original movie or book frightens you, you can comfort yourself knowing that the thing just wants to live in Stewart Island eating cats and maybe walk around as a naked woman every once in a while.
The Scrappy: The comics introduce several characters that are not particularly well-liked:
Erskine from the first series, who is pretty much every negative military right-winger nutjob condensed together. He acts irrationally from the get-go, being hostile and even making death threats to MacReady practically unprovoked, remaining hostile even after he learns about the Thing and what it can do, and generally inducing an Idiot Ball that keeps the plot going. Even when its revealed he's infected he goes on a rampage and sabotages his own means of escape, reducing The Thing to yet another rampaging monster with none of its cleverness in the movies. Even as a Hate Sink he doesn't particularly work because its implied that his actions are justified from a narrative stand-point.
Dr. Viale from Climate of Fear due to being a token female character, constantly displaying extreme stupidity, and an attraction to MacReady which comes out of nowhere in the third issue, and then is never followed up on in the fourth.
Douglas in Questionable Research, for being an immoral scientist that's treated as the voice of reason.
Sequelitis: None of the comics are considered nearly as good as the film. Within the series though, Eternal Vows is generally considered to be a major drop-off in quality from the first two stories due to how badly it butchers continuity with the film and earlier comics. Questionable Research is more of a Contested Sequel, with some fans disliking for being short and somewhat clichéd, along with the idiotic behavior of the characters, but others praising it for staying true to the spirit of the film and yet telling its own story.
Surprisingly Improved Sequel: Despite having noticeably worse art quality than the first comic (and Eternal Vows, for that matter), many consider Climate of Fear to be the best of the four stories, for being the truest to the film and also doing some original things with the Thing. Some also consider Questionable Research to be this to, at the very least, Eternal Vows.
Eternal Vows has some interesting ideas — setting the story mostly from the Things' point of view and having differing factions of "feral" Things and ones with more controlled behavior — but they mostly fall apart in execution due to the writer clearly not understanding the film that well.
Questionable Research develops on the film's storyline and captures its mood well, but its short length and the disproportionate amount of time given to the scientists just yelling at each other prevent it from being as good as it could be.
Norseman Nightmare isn't a bad concept in and of itself. However, consider that, instead of the Norse, people that could actually have gone to Antarctica like the Selk'nam or Tasmanian Aborigines were used. Then it wouldn't need to be an alternate continuity.
The Woobie: Cruz from Climate of Fear, who has a brief Heroic BSoD after he shoots Dr. Deseado dead in defense of Agapito. It goes From Bad to Worse when it later turns out that Deseado was infected, and likely assimilated Cruz and fellow soldier Escobar when they tried to bury his "corpse"... although there's enough ambiguity that it's possible that Cruz himself was actually the infected one, and knowingly shot Deseado dead, then infected his body while there was still enough life for a Thing infection to take hold, which would make it a subversion of the trope.