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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

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"From This Day Forth"
The Thing from Another World: Eternal Vows #1 (Dark Horse)
Written by David de Vries
Pencils by Paul Gulacy
Inks by Dan Davis
Cover by Paul Gulacy

 

Bizarrely distorted bodies of murder victims begin turning up in the small New Zealand town of Wallace Harbour.

 

Story Summary

 

The U.S. merchant vessel Gettysburg is in port at Wallace Harbour, Stewart Island, New Zealand for repairs, but is delayed from departure even longer due to the police investigation of a couple of murders that have recently taken place in the small town. Merchant seaman Simon Powell makes love to the beautiful local woman Jennifer Campbell to while away the time, telling her she's very special to him.

 

At the bar of the Wallace Harbour Hotel that night, the locals are getting suspicious of the U.S. crewmen after the murders, and the police investigator from mainland New Zealand breaks up a fight. Not long after, two more grisly murders take place: a local fisherman killed by a shadowed figure who is a Thing, and then off-panel, apparently Powell himself.

 

The next morning, Jennifer is feeling ill, but goes into her job at a clothing store anyway, where Detective Sergeant Rowan asks her some questions about the night before and informs her that Powell was found dead. She is heart-stricken by the news, as she was really falling for Powell. Back at home that evening she sits in front of the fireplace grieving with her cat. Suddenly the cat starts to hiss at her and scratches her hand. In her anger at the animal, tentacles suddenly sprout from her body and envelop the cat and she begins to hear Powell's voice in her head. He tells her he did this to her, that she is now dead and needs living cells to continue existing.

 

CONTINUED IN THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD: ETERNAL VOWS #2

 

Didja Notice?

 

The titles of each issue of Eternal Vows are borrowed from the classic lines of the marriage liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer of the Anglican Church.

 

The story opens in Wallace Harbour, Stewart Island, New Zealand. As the map on the inside back cover of this issue suggests, Stewart Island is a real world small island and part of the nation of New Zealand, but Wallace Harbour is a fictional construct for the story.

 

A U.S. ship (notice it is flying a U.S. flag) named the Gettysburg is docked in Wallace Harbour. In the real world at the time of this story (the early 1980s) there was an oil tanker named the Exxon Gettysburg which was later retired in 1986 and became part of the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet (maintained by the U.S. Maritime Administration in reserve for time of war or other emergency) and renamed simply the Gettysburg. Most likely, however, the ship that appears in this story is not intended to be this real ship; in "In Sickness or in Health", the ship is shown to be a fishing vessel. The name Gettysburg comes from the city of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, known for the Battle of Gettysburg during the U.S. Civil War.

 

Many of the external shots of the buildings in Wallace Harbour appear to be "cartoonified" images of photographs of actual places rather than traditional comic book line art. (Note page 3, panel 1; page 5, panel 1; page 16, panel 1; page 17, panel 1.)

 

On page 8, one of the barflies at the Wallace Harbour Hotel refers to the police investigator, Rowan, as "mainlander". By "mainlander" he is referring to Rowan as someone from the large south island of New Zealand. 

 

When Jennifer Things-out, notice that even her hair seems to take on life, standing out against her scalp and writhing.

 

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