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The Thing from Another World: Questionable Research

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The Thing from Another World: Questionable Research is a four-part story that appeared in issues #13-16 in Dark Horse Comics volume.

The story disregards the three previous The Thing from Another World comics, and is presented as a direct continuation of the film's events.

Synopsis

Part 1

A helicopter crewed by a research team lands at the burned-out, abandoned remains of U.S. Outpost 31. The team's leader, Douglas tells the rest of his team to gather up all the Thing biomatter that they can, including the body of a large, unidentified Thing. Unbeknownst to them, however, a piece of the frozen Thing snaps off as they bring it aboard the helicopter.

As they travel back to their destination, the science vessel Donachek, Douglas's wife Barbara reveals that she found back-ups of Blair's assimilation simulations and calculations that were stored away from the main Outpost 31 buildings, and so survived its destruction intact. Hooper, one of the military officers assigned to the Donachek is extremely perturbed by the entire concept of the Thing, and would rather destroy any trace of it, but Douglas tells him that the more they understand about it, the better chance they have of fighting it in the future.

The helicopter lands aboard the Donachek, and the larger Thing corpse is unloaded, to be frozen in liquid nitrogen. The part that split off soon thaws out and re-animates, and soon comes across a rat, which it attacks and assumes the form of. The Rat-Thing then finds an unidentified female crew-member, and it attacks and begins assimilating her.

Part 2

In the latest of several experiments the team has been running, they have another thawed-out piece of Thing start to assimilate a rabbit, and they allow the process to near completion before freezing it with liquid nitrogen. One of the other scientists, Marion reveals that she has looked over Blair's data, and determined that his conclusions about the Thing were based on faulty logic; in a warmer climate the assimilation process is far faster, and in reality the Thing would infect all life on Earth in three months, not the three years that Blair predicted. Additionally, if the Thing contagion is not stopped within a hundred hours of the first infection, there will be no realistic chance of ever stopping it.

This revelation makes Hooper even more paranoid about the Thing than ever, and he becomes increasingly agitated and demands that they not only destroy all their samples of Thing biomatter, but have the military bomb the remains of Outpost 31, the Norwegian base and the crashed spaceship where the Thing was originally found, in order to obliterate any trace of the Thing. Douglas, by contrast, is even more determined than ever to press ahead in their research, and accuses Hooper of cowardice. This enrages Hooper to the point where he physically assaults Douglas, and before the two can be separated, they knock over a case containing the frozen remains of a previous experiment.

Part 3

The team clean up the frozen remains of the Thing and re-freeze them. However, Marion insists on testing the entire team, noting that her research has shown that even a small number of Thing cells can result in a person's bloodstream becoming totally infected in mere minutes, after which there would be no hope of saving that person from full assimilation.

While this is going on, the other military officer on the ship, Karl checks the ship's hangar, and discovers that the helicopter pilot, Arlene has built a small spacecraft from spare helicopter parts. Arlene then emerges from underneath the craft, revealing that her entire body below the torso is now monstrous and insect-like. Before Karl can call for help, the Arlene-Thing attacks him.

Back in the lab, Marion has collected samples from everyone present, and is about to begin testing them, when they hear gunfire. Douglas, Hooper and Marion go to investigate, leaving Barbara alone with another scientist, Tamara. The trio arrive at the hangar just in time to see the Arlene-Thing finish assimilating Karl. In a moment of rage Hooper attacks Douglas again, but this proves a fatal mistake, as he turns his back to the Arlene-Thing, who ensnares him with its tentacles. Douglas and Marion flee back to the lab, and are shocked to find that not only are Barbara and Tamara nowhere to be found, but all the sample tanks are smashed open, and their contents missing.

Part 4

Before Douglas and Marion can decide what to do next, the Arlene-Thing bursts through the deck near Marion, before seizing and swiftly assimilating her. Douglas shoves the vat of liquid nitrogen onto the Arlene-Thing, freezing its core in place and allowing Douglas time to escape.

Douglas finds Barbara on the deck, wielding a flare gun and accusing him of being a Thing. He uses a portable testing device to prove that he is human, and Barbara claims that Tamara turned out to be a thing, and she was forced to kill her, leaving Douglas and Barbara as the only two survivors. Before the two can escape in the helicopter, though, Douglas insists on testing Barbara, and is horrified to discover that his wife is now a Thing.

The Barbara-Thing immediately transforms into a huge, monstrous form and goes to assimilate Douglas, who narrowly dodges the attack. Douglas then grabs the flare gun that the Barbara-Thing dropped while it was transforming, and shoots it at the helicopter, causing its fuel tank to explode, which in turn destroys the Barbara-Thing and starts a huge fire. Without time to reach a lifeboat, Douglas throws himself into the sea, seconds before the fire reaches the fuel tanks of the Donachek, causing a massive explosion which destroys the ship.

Clinging on to a piece of debris, and realising that he's now certain to die in the frigid waters, Douglas wearily jokes about his situation to a nearby seagull. To his horror, however, he then realises that the seagull has a red eye, and fears that it may be infected. He's unable to do anything, however, and the seagull flies off into the skies, while Douglas gradually succumbs to the cold.

Notes

  • This story gives both the Arlene-Thing and Barbara-Thing extensive dialogue after they transform into monstrous forms. While this is not something that has appeared in any other Thing media - aside from a few short lines from the Childs-Thing in The Thing from Another World: Climate of Fear - it does not directly contradict anything seen elsewhere in the series.
  • The portable testing devices seen in this story are very similar to the ones later seen in the video game, despite the comic being written nearly a decade earlier.


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