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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

at popapostle-dot-com
The Thing: Climate of Fear (Part 2) "Climate of Fear" Part 2
The Thing from Another World: Climate of Fear #2 (Dark Horse)
Script by John Arcudi
Pencils by Jim Somerville
Inks by Robert Jones
Cover by John Higgins



An old face shows up at the Tierra del Fuego base.


Story Summary


The personnel of the Tierra del Fuego Environmental Research Station struggle to stay up all night around a campfire, afraid to go to sleep lest one of them, secretly a Thing, should turn against the others. They are too afraid of infection to even submit to the blood test, fearing that a single alien cell can infect them.


In the early morning dawn, an altercation between the arrogant Dr. Deseado and Sgt. Quintana escalates into Deseado getting shot. His body is buried within the compound and Quintana orders everyone confined to their quarters for 8 hours to get some sleep, including himself, while two teams of his soldiers guard the base from incursion (or excursion of any other individual from their rooms).


During this time, Deseado, obviously a Thing himself, rises from his shallow grave and ambushes two of the guards. At the end of the curfew, Sgt. Quintana is unaccounted for and, breaking into his quarters, the others find him bound and gagged. Quintana reports it was too dark for him to see who did it, but the person took the flame thrower. And MacReady, now missing from the infirmary, seems the most likely suspect. Searching for MacReady, the group suddenly finds the communications shack up in flames.


Sgt. Quintana takes his men to the abandoned airfield of the former military base in their search for MacReady and find instead a Thing gathering pieces of aircraft. The soldiers start shooting at it and it counterattacks. Suddenly, MacReady bounds out of the forest with the flame thrower and torches it, but a semi-human figure leaps out of the flames and escapes into the forest. MacReady gives chase and comes upon another military patrol burning the creature to cinders. To MacReady's great surprise, the team is led by Childs (last seen going down with the sub at the end of "The Thing from Another World" Part 2).


Some time later, Childs' team keeps all of the station personnel under cover of their guns and gathers them all to undergo the blood test, while Childs explains to MacReady that after the sub flooded (in "The Thing from Another World" Part 2), the Navy came immediately to investigate the wreck and found him.


MacReady is first up to undergo the test and when his blood is exposed to flame, it leaps out of the dish with a screech. It seems MacReady is a Thing!




Didja Notice?


The introductory narrative on the inside front cover of this issue corrects the misstatement from "Climate of Fear" Part 1, to correctly state that Childs (not MacReady) blew the sub's hatches to destroy the Thing on board.


The introductory narrative also (incorrectly?) states that the Thing had been effectively held prisoner in the Antarctic cold for a million years. In The Thing, Norris only estimates it was buried in the ice for about 100,000 years (or longer, he hedges).


This issue reveals that the former military base at which the story takes place is the Tierra del Fuego Environmental Research Station. This appears to be a fictional facility.


The misapprehension that one cell of the alien organism is enough to infect another being is again repeated on page 2, as it was in previous issues of Dark Horse's The Thing from Another World series.


On page 6, Dr. Deseado refers to Sgt. Quintana as a Neanderthal. The Neanderthal, of course, is an extinct species (or possibly subspecies) of humans which is popularly thought to have been brutal and of low intelligence, though anthropological studies have increasingly shown they were intelligent and reasonably civilized.


On page 8, one of the soldiers says, "Dios Mio!" This is Spanish for "My God!"


On page 12, the Deseado-Thing grabs two of the soldiers by the face, his fingers sinking into the flesh in a manner similar to what the Blair-Thing did to Garry near the end of The Thing.


On page 16, a Thing appears to be gathering pieces of aircraft from the abandoned airfield of the base. Possibly, it was planning to build a craft of its own in which to escape, as Blair-Thing attempted to do in The Thing.


Notice that, on page 23, MacReady still has the flame thrower strapped on (this becomes important at the beginning of "Climate of Fear" Part 3), even though he is under suspicion along with the rest of the inhabitants of the station and being made to undergo another blood test. Why would Childs and the U.S. military men allow him to keep it at this moment?


Notes from Readers from Another World


In the lettercol of this issue, editor Randy Stradley states that Dark Horse has decided for their "own piece of mind" (and, presumably, ease of storytelling) that the Thing can only infect flesh and blood creatures, not plants (or, I assume, fungi). In defense of this position, Stradley speculates that the harder cell walls of plants may protect them. It's true that only plants, fungi, and bacteria have true cell walls which keep cell membranes contained; animals and protozoa have only the membrane around their cells. So it does seem somewhat logical that the Thing would not be able to infect organisms that have cell walls.


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