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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

at popapostle-dot-com
"In Sickness or in Health"
The Thing from Another World: Eternal Vows #2 (Dark Horse)
Written by David de Vries
Pencils by Paul Gulacy
Inks by Dan Davis
Cover by Paul Gulacy
January 1994


MacReady arrives in Wallace Harbour to investigate the all-too-familiar-sounding deaths in town.


Story Summary


Sam Holt, a seaman from the Gettysburg, leaves the bar of the Wallace Harbour Hotel late at night to head back to the ship. Along the way, he discovers Jennifer sitting in an alley in her underwear asking for help. She attacks him, her tentacles erupting from her body to penetrate him and devour his cells. But after contact she realizes this man is not Holt anymore...he is a Thing containing Powell's essence and he takes on Powell's form for her. Just then, fellow seaman Michaels comes across the two of them and he is quickly killed to protect their secret.


Meanwhile, a helicopter piloted by MacReady arrives in Wallace Harbour. He is carrying a flamethrower.


Back at Jennifer's home, Powell tries to explain their new lives to her and how he became assimilated out at sea aboard the Gettysburg.


Attempting to prevent additional murders, Sergeant Rowan imposes a curfew for the entire town and the Gettysburg. Shortly after, MacReady discovers Michaels' body and tests the blood. It's negative. Just then, Rowan and the ship's captain, Banks, find MacReady standing over the body and he's placed under arrest. At the police station, MacReady's story of having just arrived in town checks out and he explains the deaths that are taking place, calling it a quick-acting disease (to sound more believable), implying the disease may have reached Wallace Harbour from contaminated fish aboard the Gettysburg. Rowan places the ship, cargo, and crew in quarantine.


The Thing resumes the form of Holt to check back in on the ship, but is arrested for his suspicious disappearance and possibility of contamination. The rest of the Gettysburg crewmen have already been tested, now it's time to test Holt as he sits behind bars. He fails the blood test, of course, and transforms into a beastly shape in an attempt to break out while MacReady fries him with the flamethrower. MacReady, Rowan, and Banks observe the Thing's shifting transformations into its assimilated human bodies, including Jennifer's, before it's finally incinerated. 




Didja Notice?


When MacReady arrives in Wallace Harbour, he has shaved his beard, sporting just some scruff. Maybe he had grown it at the Antarctic base just to help keep his face warm and protected from the cold and now doesn't need it!


MacReady unpacks an M2 A39 Flamethrower. Though there were a series of M2 model flamethrowers used by the U.S. military since WWII, there is no A39 model as far as I can determine.


Page 9 implies that the Thing currently in Wallace Harbour was a fish that was assimilated by the Thing that went down in the U.S. Navy sub in "The Thing From Another World" Part 2. That fish was later caught, or allowed itself to be caught, by the Gettysburg, where it immediately assimilated the fisherman Simon Powell.


This issue and last show and describe the Things consuming flesh as food. This is consistent with its depiction in the novelization of The Thing and in the short story "The Things". The presence of a duplicate human personality is also suggested in both of those previous instances, though this story seems to go further in allowing the personalities to be seemingly merged with the Thing so that both continue living in a sense. Perhaps the Thing has decided to change how it approaches assimilation on Earth since it has had so much difficulty with these human creatures in all the previous storylines.


Powell also warns Jennifer that they must be careful about turning more people into creatures like themselves because it would result in competition for the limited resources of Wallace Harbour. This makes it sound as if the Thing is not necessarily bent on world domination, just survival. This is different than the impression given of the Thing in "The Things".


On page 13, why would Captain Banks of the Gettysburg be carrying a torch to light the way for himself and Sergeant Rowan during their search through town for Michaels and Holt? Why not just use a flashlight?!


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. On pages 15 and 24, Jennifer uses another line from the marriage liturgy, "Till death us do part," which is also the title of the concluding chapter of Eternal Vows.


On page 16, Rowan remarks that air logs show MacReady flew out of Invergargill two hours ago. Presumably this is a misspelling of Invercargill, a city on the large south island of New Zealand.


Also on page 16, Rowan tells MacReady there's no "pleading the 'Fifth' here." "Pleading the Fifth" is a term often used for crime suspects in the U.S. who invoke their right, as established in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, not to have to testify against oneself. New Zealand does not have a similar law.


In a slight flaw in the art, the stem of the pipe Captain Banks smokes seems to go from straight to curved over the course of pages 16-17.


On page 17, MacReady says the "disease" (as he's referring to the Thing at this point to sound more believable) laid waste to Outpost 31 within 48 hours. Actually, it was more like 6 days when the chronology of the film is worked out (see the chronology at 


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