Dark Horse Comics #13-16 (Dark Horse)
Script by Edward Martin III
Pencils by Ted Naifeh
Inks by W. "Moose" Baumann and Alex Niňo
Cover (from Dark Horse Comics #15) by John Higgins
A U.S. scientific research team gathers evidence and specimens
from Outpost 31.
A U.S. scientific research expedition travels by helicopter
to the ruins of Outpost 31. There they gather the notes left
by the former inhabitants and collect one frozen Thing
corpse found on the ice. As the frozen corpse is loaded into
the copter, a small claw is broken off in the hatchway and
lands unnoticed inside.
After the copter has returned to the research ship Donachek,
the scientists begin poring over the notes. Meanwhile, the
broken claw thaws and assimilates a rat, from there
assimilating an unidentified person.
Soon, the scientists are experimenting, allowing unfrozen
bits of the Thing carcass to assimilate a rabbit before
freezing it with nitrogen. One of the researchers realizes
that Blair's estimate of the Thing's rate of infecting the
entire world is too low; in warmer climates, the Thing is
capable of assimilating much more quickly and world
infection would take place in just 3,000 hours, not 27,000,
During an argument which turns physical, over the morality
of even performing these tests in light of the danger to the
world, the glass cage of the frozen rabbit is knocked off
the table, shattering the specimen and forcing the
researchers to collect every piece, lest it thaw and gain
freedom. Afterward, they decide they should perform blood
tests on each scientist to confirm no one is infected. Blood
is drawn from each until they realize that two people are
not present. Just then gunshots are heard and all but two of
the assembled researchers race to find the source.
They discover that one of the missing people, Arlene, is a
Thing and was building some kind of large device in the
bowels of the ship. Arlene-Thing grabs several of the new
arrivals while two others, Douglas and Marion, race back to
the lab, only to find it practically demolished. One of the
two women left behind just minutes ago must have also been a
Suddenly, Arlene-Thing bursts up through the floor and grabs
Marion. Douglas escapes but is confronted by his wife,
fellow researcher Barbara. She threatens to shoot him with a
flare gun unless he proves he's not a Thing. He still has
his blood sample and the electric tester in his pockets, so
he shows her his blood is still human. She tells him that
the other woman, Tamara, attacked her when the rest of them
had gone to investigate the gunshots. She leads him to the
helicopter, saying they have to get away and he is, after
all, a former
pilot. But when she sets down the flare gun, he grabs it,
needing proof that she is still human as well. He tests her
blood sample and it reveals the contamination. She
Things-out and comes after him, but he fires the flare at
her. Another shot and the fuel leaking from the helicopter
Douglas jumps into the sea and soon the ship blows up.
Douglas clings to a piece of floating wreckage and is joined
by a seagull. The gull's red eyes tell him that the Thing
has survived. Then the bird flies off into the blue sky.
"Questionable Research" was a series of four 8-page
installments which appeared in issues 13-16 of Dark
Horse Comics in 1993.
"Questionable Research" Part 1 - Dark Horse Comics
At the ruins of Outpost 31, Barbara finds floppy disks
containing a simulator module which includes infection
simulations; these would be the simulations created by Blair
in The Thing. Audio
tape records are also found; these would be the audio logs
recorded by MacReady.
From Hooper's dialog on page 13, the members of the mission
seem to believe that all 12 men stationed at Outpost 31 were
killed. Perhaps they are not aware of the subsequent events
involving MacReady and Childs in the earlier series of Dark Horse
mini-series of The Thing.
"Questionable Research" Part 2 - Dark Horse Comics
Again, the myth that the events of
take place over the course of only 48 hours is propagated;
it was actually
Marion's research suggests that Blair's estimate of the
Thing's infection of the entire Earth population at
27,000 hours is off by a factor of ten, due to her learning
that the infection rate increases in a warmer climate than
the frozen Antarctic. Her estimate is only 3,000 hours (a
little more than 4 months) when exposed to a warm climate
and access to transportation. She also estimates that only
in the first 100 or so of that would there be a chance of
stopping it. This finding may be used to explain, somewhat,
the rapid assimilations that occur in the earlier series of Thing
mini-series published by Dark Horse.
Hooper is depicted wearing a crucifix, perhaps intended to
signify to the reader why he is more cautious about the
experiments being conducted and worried about the
implications if they should accidentally allow the Thing to
get loose from their shipboard lab.
On panel 9 of page 26, Douglas appears to be wearing an Izod
Lacoste crocodile shirt.
Izod is a
clothing company which, from 1952-1993, teamed with the
shirt company to produce the famous Izod Lacoste polo shirts
with the Lacoste logo of a crocodile on the left breast.
On page 27, Hooper tells the other scientists they aren't
playing Mr. Wizard anymore. Mr. Wizard was a television
personality (real name Don Herbert, 1917-2007) who taught
children about science.
"Questionable Research" Part 3 - Dark Horse Comics
In this chapter, Hooper's crucifix has disappeared from
around his neck, though possibly he tucked it inside his
t-shirt for the clean-up of the frozen Thing parts.
What is the device that Arlene is building in the bowels of
the ship? It doesn't look like a typical saucer or winged
aircraft; possibly it is intended as a submersible vehicle
since they are out at sea.
Marion comments that Blair's autopsy notes showed that the
brain is the last part of a creature that is assimilated
during the takeover process. Barbara remarks that may be due
to the brain's complexity. Within our Thing chronology, it
may also be argued that it is last because the Thing has not
encountered individual beings like those on Earth before, as
suggested in "The Things"; in
that story it thinks of the brain it sees during Blair's
initial autopsy as "a great wrinkled
tumor...a thinking cancer..."
"Questionable Research" Part 4 - Dark Horse Comics
For some reason, a couple of flare gun shots cause enough of
a fire on the Donachek to cause it to blow up.
Seems unlikely considering a ship is mostly metal, even with
what appears to be fuel leaking from holes in the helicopter
on page 22. And how did the copter get damaged in the first
On the last page of this, the last Thing story
published by Dark Horse, an assimilated seagull escapes for
parts unknown. Between the seagull here and the fish at the end
of "'Til Death Us Do
Part" (and possibly more), it seems Earth's doom is
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