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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

at popapostle-dot-com
"Climate of Fear" Part 4
The Thing from Another World: Climate of Fear #4 (Dark Horse)
Script by John Arcudi
Pencils by Jim Somerville
Inks by Robert Jones
Cover by John Higgins


The human survivors of Tierra del Fuego force a final confrontation with the Things.


Story Summary


Picking up from last issue, the Childs-Thing chases MacReady and Dr. Viale through the forest. They bump into the U.S. military men, who torch the Thing.


Meanwhile, back at the environmental station, Agapito seeks help from one of his men, but it turns out that all of them have already been assimilated. Agapito is attacked and when his arm is grabbed by the tentacles of one of them, he cuts it off and dives out a window to escape.


In the forest, MacReady tells Commander Simm how Childs was a Thing all along and how he must have placed his thumb into the dish during MacReady's blood test, and his own test, to fake the infected/clean reactions. They all head back toward the station to confront the personnel there, but are ambushed by a Thing carrying loads of dynamite. When the Thing gets torched by the military squad, the explosion takes them all down for the count. Only the perceptive MacReady and Dr. Viale escape the conflagration, hiding behind a small ridge. The two decide to head for the old hangar where they presume the Navy copters that brought Childs and the military must be sitting.


It turns out Commander Simm is still barely alive and he calls on his walkie-talkie to the U.S.S. Buffalo to order a napalm strike on the station.


At the hangar, MacReady and Dr. Viale discover that the Things from the station are building some kind of air or space ship in which to escape. Agapito shows up just then with gasoline and he convinces the two of them to help him pour it around the hangar and set it on fire. There is a large amount of stored airplane fuel in the hangar as well, which brings the entire hangar to a fiery end.


But somehow, one or more of the Things have increased biomass and escaped through the ground as a huge semi-insect-like monster. It erupts from the ground and chases the three humans. They split up to make it more difficult for all of them to be caught and it chooses to continue chasing MacReady. As MacReady nears the station, two F-14 fighter jets soar overhead and drop napalm on the beast, destroying it.


MacReady has just managed to outrace the fire-blast and is reunited with Viale and Agapito. Viale asks him if it's finally over now, but MacReady has no answer.




Didja Notice?


When MacReady explains Childs' deception with the blood tests, Commander Simm complains that now they have to find a new test to help them sort out "the men from the Martians". Why? All they have to do is make sure that nobody is maintaining physical contact with the blood sample when the flame is applied.


Simm seems to take MacReady's word for it that he and Dr. Viale are still human. Shouldn't they be subjected to a new test first?


On page 13 we see the new ship the Things are building at the environmental station.


On page 21, one of the Navy pilots compares the napalm strike they've been ordered to make on the environmental station to Apocalypse Now. Apocalypse Now is a classic 1979 film set in the Vietnam War. It features a well-known scene in which fighter jets drop loads of napalm on the jungle.


Also on page 13, the cockpit of one of the fighters (presumably F-14s as mentioned in "Climate of Fear" Part 3), shows the names of the two pilots as Lt. Cdr. Nigel J. Somerville and Lt. Cdr. A. Zander Macsomething (the end of the name trails past the panel border). The Somerville name is probably a reference to penciler Jim Somerville or a relative. The second name I am unable to identify.


The Things would have had to absorb a lot of extra biomass to obtain the size of the huge beast at the end of the story. Where could it have gotten so much mass so quickly?


At the end of the story, the hangar with the spaceship has been destroyed with a number of the Things in it. Then the large monster is destroyed by the napalm drop. But we still don't know that every assimilated member of the station is dead. One or more could still have made an attempt to trek through the forest to civilization. For that matter, what's to prevent the organism from having assimilated some other animal like a bird and easily fly to the nearest town? It seems that once the Thing made it out of Antarctica there would be no hope of stopping the organism from spreading around the globe. On the other hand, we don't really know if the creature necessarily wants to take over the Earth (aside from "The Things", which suggests it might think its doing us a favor). The ship the Things were building in this issue may have simply been intended to get them off Earth, never to return. 


Unanswered Questions


At what point did Childs become assimilated by the Thing? It seems obvious from his explanation to MacReady that he was one the entire time he's been in Tierra del Fuego. It seems most likely he was grabbed by the Thing and assimilated in the sinking sub at the end of "The Thing From Another World" Part 2. Though might it be that he was a Thing already at the end of The Thing as depicted in "The Things"? 


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