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The Thing from Another World: Questionable Research

At4w the thing questionable research by mtc studios-d8379o3-1024x452.png

October 20, 2014
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It's less that the research is questionable and more that the intellects of those DOING the research is questionable.

(Open on Eliza the foam lizard crawling up on the still body of Pollo (the one that was knocked unconscious by Sierra, Jaeris' computer))

Eliza: Okay... Reattaching primary power cable... now!

(Eliza pushes a button on Pollo's body. There is a beeping sound and the red light on Pollo's "face" lights up as he comes to. He sits up and looks around, seeing Eliza)

Pollo: You... You are the foam lizard Dr. Linksano gave life to.

Eliza: Going with the name Eliza, and I'm the one who just painstakingly reactivated you.

Pollo: I did not realize the good doctor gave you technical skills.

Eliza: He didn't, but fortunately, Nimue was able to walk me through the process. Thanks.

Nimue: Information: Gratitude is unnecessary, but appreciated.

Pollo: What's our status?

Nimue: The situation is as follows: Unbeknownst to this unit, the King of Worms was able to place robotic duplicates of several individuals into this home. In turn, the duplicates were able to trick Linkara into opening a portal into its domain, upon which time it launched an attack with Cybermats that had been corrupted by its influence.

Eliza: If this King guy controls robots, why aren't you two affected?

Nimue: Speculation: Security protocols installed after the last confrontation with Lord Vyce have protected this unit and the robot Pollo from the King's influence.

Pollo: What happened after I was knocked out?

Eliza: That robot that looked like Harvey Finevoice dragged Linkara through the portal. After that, I asked Nimue what I could do to help.

Nimue: Before Cybermats could be disabled with force field defenses, they were able to disable your other bodies in the apartment. Without them, you are unable to transfer to another body.

Pollo: Looks our mission is still on then. Nimue, how long will that portal stay open?

Nimue: Sensors indicate that the portal will remain open indefinitely as long as the gate structure remains intact.

Pollo: (looking at the robot of Dr. Linksano lying on the floor) And I'm guessing that the unconscious Dr. Linksano over there was an android?

Nimue: Confirmed. It is currently behind a high-security force field to keep it immobilized should it reactivate.

Pollo: We need some more information. Eliza, come on over. You are not operating on robots today.

(We then cut to a dark room where Linkara lies unconscious. He then comes to and looks around. He still has his technology with him, though, strangely enough. He puts on his hat and gets to his feet. Voices are heard whispering. He looks around nervously. He glances at his wrist communicator and his Magic Gun. He pushes a button on his communicator and speaks into it)

Linkara: Hello. (there is no sound; he tries again) Hello! (still no answer; he sighs and adjusts his coat) Still, pretty stupid of them to let me keep all my equipment.

Voice: (slowly and monotone) It has been decided...

(Linkara looks around to see who said that. It's Harvey, with a platinum mask over his face and robotic limbs. He is speaking slowly in a monotone)

Harvey: ...that your equipment is not a danger to our King.

Linkara: Harvey? The hell is going on? Where'd you get the robot arm?

Harvey: The android that attacked you was a replica. It has been in your universe for a year now, acting as an agent of the King of Worms.

Linkara: And you're the real deal.

Harvey: This body is of Harvey Finevoice. All that he was, however, is now in service to the King.

Linkara: "With a platinum mask, your soul he'll borrow." (nods) The King of Worms can take over regular people; he just needs one of those masks.

Harvey: Correct. However, the power of the masks does not extend beyond this realm. It is why your clockwork beings were required.

Linkara: Harvey, you can fight this. You're stronger than some damn mask!

Harvey: The King of Worms saw fear, it is said. The King of Worms thought fear should be fed. The King of Worms takes your soul to shred. In the Court of Worms, we are all dead.

Linkara: (face twitches briefly) And what the hell am I doing here, then?

Harvey: Feel honored, human. You have been granted an audience with our King. (spreads arms out) Rejoice, for all of your nightmares are about to come true.

(Gnashing his teeth, Linkara holds up his gun. Then, to a dramatic sting, the screen goes black before the AT4W title theme plays. The title card has dramatic music from the original Thing playing in the background)

Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. So, uh, yeah, things have gotten pretty bad around here, and as such, I'm doing what I'm always do: review comic books! (beat) I wonder what normal people do in these situations.

(Shots of past "Thing" comics are shown)

Linkara (v/o): The three "Thing" miniseries have all been a continuous story, questions from "Eternal Vows" notwithstanding, about what happened after the events of the movie, keeping MacReady as the main character. I've always felt that if – and that's a big "if" – you're going to do a sequel to The Thing, following Mac is the wrong direction. It was hopeless. He and Childs were either infected or doomed to die in the cold. Well, someone else must've felt that way, because our miniseries today, "The Thing from Another World: Questionable Research", does not have any returning characters from the movie. Hell, this one already wins points because it was very clearly written by people who had seen the movie.

Linkara: (smiling) In fact, I dare say that this is the best of the "Thing" miniseries. (holds up hands defensively) Oh, don't get me wrong, it still has plenty of problems, but after "Eternal Vows", my standards have dropped (makes a gliding motion with his hand) like a spaceship crashing into the Antarctic.

Linkara (v/o): And even then, a lot of my disagreements are on things that are really more a matter of opinion, stuff that's debated among fans of the movie, like whether or not someone infected by the Thing is aware of infection or not. And you know what? That's okay. Because someone was at least trying to think about this, not just rehash the plot of the movie, not turn it into action schlock, not do... whatever the hell the romance was in "Eternal Vows". They were honest to God thinking about this one.

Linkara: So let's dig into "The Thing From Another World: Questionable Research" and see how you make a half-decent story with this setup.

(Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover, which is part of an issue of "Dark Horse Comics")

Linkara (v/o): Man, the artists for "The Thing" are really running low on imagination. Look at that! It's just trying to look like the Xenomorphs from Aliens.

Linkara: Okay, yeah, here's the thing: this series is not like what we've reviewed before. "Questionable Research" was spread across several issues of Dark Horse's comics anthology called... uh... "Dark Horse Comics".

Linkara (v/o): As such, there's no point in looking at the cover since only the third part's cover has anything to do with the Thing, unless the Thing was actually trying to be a superhero, which after "Eternal Vows", I really would not put past this comic. Part 4's cover features the Predator.

Linkara: And oh, my God, "Predator vs. the Thing"! Why has no one made that story?

Linkara (v/o): Said cover is pretty good, with a woman seemingly fully subsumed by the Thing, with tentacles all around and an inhuman mouth emerging from her torso, although I really can't tell if she's supposed to be nude or not. Should I be censoring this? I don't know. Anyway, let's start things off in "Dark Horse Comics #13".

(The comic opens to the first page)

Linkara (v/o): We open at Outpost 31. Or rather, the ruins of it. A lot of time has clearly past since the end of the movie, since the place has long since stopped smoldering and smoking. A helicopter lands with a search party.

Man [Douglas]: (to another man) You and Arlene see if there's anything left in the building. Files, photos, any kind of record of what happened here.

(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching The Deadly Mantis)

Tom Servo: If there's one we can be sure of, it wasn't a giant deadly mantis.

(Cut back to the comic)

Another man [Hooper]: What are we supposed to do?

Douglas: We're supposed to hunt down specimens.

Linkara: (as Douglas) Our research indicates that the magic snow that created Frosty the Snowman can be found here. We need a sample.

Linkara (v/o): Actually, following some footprints, which are strangely intact despite the amount of snowstorms going on in the movie, the team comes upon the remains of the Thing. And no soft-stepping around; they know what it is already. In fact, considering how close it is to the outpost, that might be the same one that, in the first miniseries, is responsible for making a guy Thing out by just touching it with his gloved hand, although that's just a coincidence, since these minis take place in different continuities. Fortunately, that kind of stupidity does not happen here. But still, these people do know about the Thing. How? Well, it's never said in the comic; they just do. The best guess I've seen speculated is very similar to a few proposed Thing sequels...

(Cut to a clip of the Thing movie)

Linkara (v/o): ...that Windows, the communications officer of Outpost 31, did manage to get transmissions out before the equipment was trashed. He just wasn't able to get a response due to the storm.

(Back to the comic again)

Linkara (v/o): As such, they probably also stopped off at the Norwegian camp and found out what happened there, figured the same thing happened at Outpost 31, and then arrived. Unfortunately, they don't know well enough to start setting fire to the remains. Nope! They decide to take the remains back with them.

Linkara: Although, you really can understand why they did it. After all, there wouldn't be a plot otherwise.

Linkara (v/o): As they drag the Thing into their helicopter, its hand hits against a wall and cracks.

Douglas: Dammit, Hooper, be careful!

Hooper: Sorry. I didn't expect it to be this big.

Douglas: Just be thankful it's only this big. Any bigger, we would have had to leave part of it behind.

Linkara: (as Douglas) And it would've just been impossible to (makes reaching motions with his hands) take a few scattered pieces instead of the whole mass. I mean, what would've happened if we had left that larger chunk to come back for later? It could've gotten freezer burn!

Linkara (v/o): They're fairly confident they can have the Thing contained once they return to their boat, and the rest of the party arrives with the records they recovered. They find videotapes, notes, and even some floppy disks.

Linkara: My God! MacReady made sure to save the chess program!

Douglas: And what are those?

Linkara: (as Arlene) Video games. (pretends to look through games) Superman for the Commodore 64, Galactic Conquest, Big Trouble In Little China, although that one I think only works for a PAL machine.

Arlene: Near as we can figure, a simulator module. If his notes are any indication, he ran several tests, including infection simulations, all neatly backed up before he was killed.

Linkara: (as Arlene) For some reason, people are pretty disbelieving that he would have this, even though it honestly wouldn't be that hard to have existing software for testing viral infections in a scientific research outpost.

Linkara (v/o): They also found MacReady's tape that he made during the movie. You see what I mean when I say, "Clearly, someone was paying attention to the first movie for this one"? Everyone is pretty jovial about how many records there are, except for this guy, Hooper.

Hooper: Like it's some kind of cutsie critter. And the way you talk about those men. I mean, they're dead for God's sake. Can't we at least show them a little respect?

Linkara: Why? None of the other media in the franchise does. (a rimshot plays) How is there a rimshot in this dimension? (looks closely into camera, confused) How am I even recording this?

Hooper: This creature killed a dozen men and destroyed the whole outpost and here we sit, right next to the damn thing, yucking it up. That doesn't strike anybody as wrong, somehow?

Douglas: I think I see your point, Hooper, and you're absolutely right.

Linkara: (as Douglas) We'll wait until the creature resembles a sexual organ and then we'll joke about it.

Douglas: This creature isn't just a vicious killer, but probably the most dangerous lifeform on the planet. We have to be careful.

Linkara: (as Douglas) Now, let's put it inside that wire cage next to the monkeys who we've been experimenting super-strength serum on in the laboratory that also happens to contain every known disease deadly to man in uncorked test tubes on an uneven wooden shelf.

Linkara (v/o): They land on a boat, and we see a small piece of the Thing that snapped off when they put it in, lying underneath their chairs, the ice and snow on it melting. They bring the Thing over to their lab, while one of the technicians, Marion, flirts with Bearded Scientist Guy. And I've gotta say, while my joke about the unsafe lab is of course inaccurate, there are still a few things in here that are making me tilt my head, like all the exposed wires carelessly hanging everywhere and even into the freezer unit where they're keeping it. Bearded Scientist Guy talks to his wife, Barbara, about how Marion is flirting with him, but this doesn't go anywhere, sadly, so ignoring it, and instead, over to the Thing finger.

Linkara: (intrigued, holding up right index finger) Thing... (holding up left index finger) finger... (he points with both fingers to a word that pops up) "Thinger".

Linkara (v/o): It becomes a small crab-like creature that finds a rat and assimilates it. From there, the rat finds someone on the deck of the ship, and the rat leaps onto their foot and transforms, ending Part 1.

(Cut to the second issue)

Linkara (v/o): Part 2 begins with a different kind of crab-Thing attacking a rabbit. We learn the name of the ship they're on is the Donachek, which I'm sure is named after somebody, but I don't have access to the Internet right now, so I can't check on that. While the rabbit is assimilated, MacReady's tape from the movie plays.

MacReady: (narrating) Still have nothing to go on. One other thing... I think it rips through your clothes when it takes you over.

Linkara: (as MacReady) Which probably means I'm not getting my favorite sweater back.

MacReady: (narrating) Windows found some shredded long johns, but the nametag was missing. They could be anybody's.

Linkara: (as MacReady) I suspect Windows has been making a quilt out of all of our underwear. He's kind of weird like that.

Linkara (v/o): That's actually a bit of a continuity flub in the movie, since it was Nauls who found the shredded long johns in the kitchen, but we can probably let MacReady get away with that because of what he says next.

MacReady: (narrating) Nobody... Nobody trusts anyone now. And we're all very tired.

Linkara: (as MacReady) I had to cancel naptime because of the crisis. Everyone's feeling groggy.

Linkara (v/o): The tape ends as it does in the movie, and the scientist playing it stops it.

Arlene: Good God.

Douglas: And to think that all happened in forty-eight hours.

Linkara (v/o): Okay, now, this one's a continuity flub of the comic. I can see why normal people wouldn't need to play close attention to this, but I decided to check myself this time in my rewatch of the movie.

(Cut to footage of The Thing)

Linkara (v/o): It goes from daylight to night three times from the dog arrives at Outpost 31. During the third night, MacReady says a storm is going to hit in six hours, and the beginning of the tape says the storm has been hitting them for 48 hours.

(Cut back to the comic)

Linkara (v/o): As such, the events of the movie have to take place over a minimum of four days, allowing for MacReady to exaggerate the storm's length. If he's not exaggerating, that's five days! Why do all these miniseries get that wrong? Anyway, they finish up their tests. They're studying the infection rates on various animals, timing them for a certain amount before they freeze it with nitrogen. However, the scientists have been studying pretty much everything, including the research Blair did before he went cuckoo. And unfortunately, it turns out Blair's research was wrong. The Thing's infection speed was impeded by the colder air of the Antarctic. Blair predicted the entire world would be infected in 27,000 hours, a little over three years. In warmer climates, however, it'd infect the entire world in 3,000 hours, tops. Only four months, and humanity is over, and only in the first hundred hours or so is there any chance at stopping the spread.

Linkara: (sarcastically, with a shrug) Unless it just wants to settle down somewhere in New Zealand! I don't know, raise a family, get involved in the P.T.A., maybe run for local office. (gives a double thumbs-up) Then we're a-okay! (gnashes teeth)

Douglas: Then I guess we better be careful!

Linkara: (as Douglas) We'll be super-duper careful with our Armageddon!

Linkara (v/o): Barbara says she's not feeling very well, implying she's infected. However, can't worry about that, since Hooper continues to be not happy, considering this latest news.

Hooper: (his head leaning to the side for some reason) My point is that we can't go on. We have to stop this.

Linkara: (as Hooper, also leaning his head to the side) We have to stop this before all of our necks look like this!

Hooper: Douglas, just hear me out, okay? This isn't "Mr. Wizard" anymore.

Linkara: (as Hooper) This isn't even Beakman's World, man!

Hooper: This organism is deadly, more so than any bomb or virus. And we're not working in a vacuum here. We have Earth's survival in our hands.

Douglas: That's a very noble sentiment and an excellent image to keep us careful.

Linkara: Is that just Douglas' catchphrase? (as Douglas, making "air quotes" mockingly) "Let's be careful"? The Thing is intelligent, resourceful, and deadly! When people say, "Kill it with fire," they're talking about the Thing!

Linkara (v/o): Hooper says they're morally obligated to destroy the Thing both here and back at Outpost 31 for the safety of the human race. And what's Douglas' response?

Douglas: Hooper, I didn't bring you on this expedition because of your morals. I brought you here because you're a damn good field man.

Linkara: (as Douglas) You'll never know what it is to be careful, Hooper!

Douglas: There is no room in research for morals. Morals cloud judgement. Morals taint conclusions. Morals define unwanted prejudices. They are not welcome in any lab of mine.

Linkara: Stab him in the chest. (shrugs defensively) What? I thought morals don't belong in his lab. (sternly) Stab Douglas in the chest!

Linkara (v/o): Barbara agrees with Hooper, but Douglas continues on the road of mad science.

Douglas: It doesn't matter if Hooper's right or wrong. Those concepts have no meaning here.

Linkara: Douglas, let me introduce you to a guy named Judas Traveller. You two would get along really well.

Douglas: This is the scientific find of the century.

(Cut to a clip of an episode of Scrubs)

Dr. Cox: (to another doctor) What do you say you head on down to the library and look it up in the New England Journal of Who Gives a Rat's Ass?

(Back to the comic again)

Douglas: It can't be defined by morals. It transcends morals.

Linkara: (sarcastically) Congratulations, Douglas the Dumbass! With that, you have officially earned the coveted title of (makes "air quotes") "Bearded Idiot"! (applauds) Big round of applause for the Bearded Idiot! (scowls)

Linkara (v/o): I mean, just... You know, this is why people don't trust scientists today! Fiction portrays science as either gobbledygook technobabble or full of amoral jackasses who think research is a goal in and of itself! News flash, Bearded Idiot: the scientific find of the century is pretty worthless IF THERE AIN'T ANY HUMANS AROUND TO APPRECIATE IT!!

Linkara: Oh! (clutches at his chest, scoffs) Silly me, I completely forgot! They're going to be careful!

Linkara (v/o): Hooper calls out how insane this is – while playing an invisible violin. They start screaming, and then Hooper slaps Douglas' hand, grabs him, and knocks him into the equipment, knocking over the tank containing the frozen Thing, aaaaand end Part 2.

Linkara: Yeah, this is what I mean when I say this story still has problems: the characters, even Hooper, the most sensisble one here are being dumbasses and caused the Thing to escape.

Linkara (v/o): This is so easily rewritten, too. Don't have Douglas espouse the idiotic "science is more important than ethics" crap; have him realize the danger, too. They burn the remains, but we already saw that part of the Thing has escaped and infected someone. You could also argue the reason why it hasn't jumped ship is because the water is still cold enough that the shock to its system will either kill it or freeze it again. Thus, you can still have "Thing on a boat".

(Cut to the third issue)

Linkara (v/o): But let's move on to Part 3. Fortunately, Douglas is smart enough to take charge and prevent everybody from panicking, instructing Hooper to get a box of rubber gloves so that they can work on getting all the Thing pieces back in a tank before they thaw. They get everything back in a tank, but Marion points out that one of them could already be infected by a stray cell. As such, she volunteers to test everyone. Elsewhere on the boat, there are apparently military personnel, since we have this army guy hearing strange noises from a door marked "AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY". When he enters, he discovers a small craft, possibly an alien submarine. Back over to Super Science Careful Squad, Marion explains some more about the blood test, in particular that the brain seems to be the last part to be infected, while the bloodstream is quickly taken over first. As such, it's possible that a person could be infected and not even realize it. This lends credence to some theories people have. I disagree with it myself, but that's okay. This is one of those where it's unclear in the movie, and either side could be right. Again, somebody did their homework with this story. Back over to the alien construction, it turns out the infected person from before was Arlene, the helicopter pilot. And while the artwork is... not my favorite here, we see Arlen's lower body is more like a gaggle of scorpion legs and half-human arms, which is pretty cool. It attacks the army guy, named Carl, who manages to shoot a tentacle or two. Before they can actually begin testing the blood, the scientists hear the gunshots, leaving Barbara and... some other lady; don't know her name... behind.

Linkara: Yeah, just leave the two people, either one of whom could potentially be infected, alone with each other in a room. You guys are made of good decisions.

Linkara (v/o): Arriving in the sub area, they see the Thing in the process of assimilating Carl. Naturally, Hooper starts strangling Douglas.

Hooper: This is your fault, damn it!

Linkara: (as Douglas, pretending to strangle himself) Well, maybe if they had been careful...

Linkara (v/o): Also, Hooper, time and place! And yeah, he gets nabbed by the Thing like an idiot. Douglas and Marion run back to the lab to find it completely wrecked.

Marion: I don't think this was a good idea, either.

(Cut to a clip of the MST3K gang watching The Painted Hills)

Tom Servo: Oh, throw that in my face!

(Cut back to the comic)

Linkara (v/o): Douglas wants to try to find Barbara, but Marion tells him it's pretty clear she's not here.

Douglas: You're right, Marion. She's probably back at the-- What's that?

Linkara: (as Douglas) Ooh! An arrowhead!

Linkara (v/o): Nope, just the Thing, who quickly attacks Marion. Douglas runs over to run of the nitrogen tanks still intact and knocks it onto the Thing, freezing it temporarily. He runs off and encounters Barbara, who holds a gun up against him, demanding he prove himself. He does so by... uh... magically making a vial of blood appear in his hands and be dipped into a cylinder. Seriously, what the hell is that, and how did he suddenly have it? The two get to the helicopter, but Douglas suddenly has a gun and a vial of Barbara's blood as well. Where did he get all the blood?! He didn't pick them up from the lab, and he didn't bring them with him when they were extracting blood earlier. Whatever the testing machine is, he uses it on Barbara's blood, and indeed, she was the one who was infected. He fires the gun in her face... I'm guessing it's a flare gun... and she lights up like a Roman candle. Another flare makes her... explode for some reason. I think the comic writers confused liquid nitrogen with nitroglycerin. And a fire quickly spreads on the boat. He jumps into the water and the boat explodes, leaving Douglas as the sole survivor. He hangs onto a piece of driftwood that also happens to have a seagull sitting on it.

Douglas: It doesn't look good, birdface. I won't last twenty minutes in this.

Linkara: (as Douglas) And yet, I'm very strangely calm while I'm freezing to death.

Douglas: But that's it, I guess. I can't really do anything about it now. It sure is nice of you to keep me company. The others are too scared.

Linkara: I think you mean "scarred", dude. You know, from the fire?

Linkara (v/o): However, he looks at the seagull's eye and sees that it's bright red, which... means... the Thing? And so, our comic ends with the seagull flying away while Douglas that it can't be, because he blew it up!

Linkara: That's right, Douglas, because in reality, (points to screen accusingly) YOU BEGAN THE BIRDEMIC! This comic is... okay.

Linkara (v/o): You've already heard my positives for it: the Thing is much more consistent with how the movie presented it, the setting is much more realistic and reflective of the tone of the original, and it continues the apocalyptic themes. Now, here are the big issues. One, the artwork is pretty lackluster. Aside from normal humans bending their bodies in Thing-like ways when they shouldn't be, the shading is crosshatch crazy, making everything look dirty and undetailed. The boat setting itself isn't well-explored – I'm not even sure how big it's supposed to be – and not taken advantage of. Most of the action takes place just in the lab. The creature designs on the Thing, however, are pretty imaginative, which I'd say is pretty consistent for all the Thing comics, frankly. Writing-wise, it suffers the most from being very short, the equivalent of a 32-page one-shot. There isn't nearly enough character development except for Douglas, whose character is that he's an amoral craphead. They set up a few threads to be explored, but they don't go anywhere with them. And as I said earlier, it would be easier to get behind this story if Douglas had decided to kill the Thing, but too late. And while the story implies the seagull is the Thing at the end, there's enough ambiguity as to whether it is or not that the end-of-the-world narrative could continue.

Linkara: But there's one last thing we need to take a gander at in order to conclude at the "Thing" comics. I don't really want to do a full review of it just yet, but people want to know my opinion, so might as well go over it real quick.

(Cut to a closeup of the cover of the "Thing" comic in question...)

Linkara (v/o): "The Thing: The Northman Nightmare" is a digital-only release from Dark Horse made as a tie-in prequel to the 2011 film.

Linkara: (confused) A prequel to a prequel... Just... what?

Linkara (v/o): Although, it's being far too kind to call it a prequel. It takes place in 1121 A.D. in Greenland and is completely unconnected from the movie, except that the Thing is in it.

(Cut briefly to a shot of the helicopter from "Questionable Research")

Linkara (v/o): Except, of course, that doesn't make any sense, because The Thing takes place in ANTARCTICA!!

(Cut back to "The Northman Nightmare")

Linkara (v/o): I do not understand how that happens at all! It's like somebody just decided, "I want to see the Thing battle Vikings!", while ignoring the entire setup for the damn movie! It's probably better to think of it more as a "what if" instead of a prequel: namely, what if the alien crashed in Greenland instead of Antarctica? And in this case, it eventually moved out into the countryside, attacked a Viking village, and began infecting people. A Viking ship arrives a few days later to find the plant scorched, strange bones made of fused skulls – including animal skulls, and the population of the village reduced to five women and one gibbering madman. The Vikings are slaughtered fairly quickly when they realize something's wrong with the women, figuring out the burning technique fairly quickly, and reducing it down to a single woman, who flees back to the crashed spaceship. The Vikings use a stampede of bison to finish off the ship and kill the Thing, leaving only two remaining of the party. But the ending panels quickly reveal that the Thing infected one of them. And like "Questionable Research", "The Northman Nightmare" is... okay, just okay. It suffers the same problem of being far too short, with the added bonus of being a completely unnecessary story, since there's nothing in this that isn't achieved by the original movie itself. It's just there aren't guns, and it's a bunch of Vikings instead of Americans. There's still a lack of characterization, but the artwork is pretty good. It's a cute little alternate universe tale that's easily read in fifteen minutes and then quickly forgotten.

(A montage of shots of all the "Thing" comics is shown)

Linkara (v/o): After all of these "Thing" comics, I think the point is clear that the story is really not meant to be a franchise. It's not that there isn't potential for sequels and prequels, it's just that these creators took away the wrong things from the story. They failed to understand what made the original work: a story about paranoia and distrust in a place where no one can escape and you can't call for help. A tale about a group of people who have to prevent the end of the world, provided they can figure who they can trust. Instead, they give in to bad horror tropes. Future writers, take this lesson away narratively from The Thing: it is possible for your characters to be intelligent, to be reasonable, and to make all the right choices... and still ultimately fail. If there are going to be any future stories set in this universe with this particular monster, let's hope they'll be better ones.

Linkara: In the meantime, my story may be ending soon, so... let's get to that.

(Suddenly, the room dims slightly as the door opens)

Harvey: It's time.

(We cut back to Linkara's apartment, where Pollo is examining the body of the Dr. Linksano robot, whose arms have been ripped off, revealing wires inside)

Pollo: This is a very sophisticated android, but the thing about stuff that's more advanced is that it also tends to be easier to break.

Eliza: (also looking at the wires in the robot limbs) And if not, I'm sure I can still sever a few more wires inside this thing.

Pollo: So, we've barely seen you around this place for the last several months. We were beginning to think you have left and gone on your own.

Eliza: Well, I was literally born almost a year ago. And yet, when I woke up, I knew a lot of stuff that I don't think newborns usually know, like English. And coffee. I really like coffee.

Pollo: So you needed some time to yourself to figure things out. I can appreciate that.

Eliza: I knew about the Cybermats earlier than the rest of you, and I'm sorry I didn't speak up, but I honestly didn't know what to think, who to trust, and all that. Like I said, I've been trying to figure out who or... what I am.

Pollo: At the moment, you are a friend and ally, and that is most definitely appreciated.

Eliza: Thanks. So, shouldn't we be charging in and trying to rescue Linkara?

Pollo: Not just yet. While the King of Worms thinks we're out of the picture, we have the advantage of surprise. We shouldn't give up that advantage without more information. (suddenly, a beeping is heard) Ah, I have access to the android's memory core. Downloading information now. Once we know exactly what we're dealing with, we'll be able to mount a rescue mission. Until then, we just need to hope that Linkara can handle himself.

(Meanwhile, Linkara is escorted out into a starkly white area by the platinum-masked Harvey. Strange whispering is heard all around. He is brought before the King of Worms himself, a hideous abomination, covering with tubing on his torso, metallic gloves on his hands, and a platinum mask over his face. The image of him distorts with static briefly as Linkara stares at him)

Harvey: Kneel before the King.

Linkara: I'd rather stand.

Harvey: (sharply) You will show respect!

(He shoves Linkara to the ground and pins him down with his hand on his shoulder)

Linkara: What is all this about?!

King: Fear. (reaches hand out) Leave us.

Harvey: I hear and obey. (leaves)

King: It is about fear, human. Any time before the rays of your sun ever touched the dirt of your planet, (the screen distorts briefly) there were beings that stepped upon your universe as easily as you would step upon a road. And during that time, when the Outer Gods walked among the Inner Realities, (the image distorts again) I experienced that which none of my kind have ever felt before: fear.

Linkara: I've heard the legend.

King: I became... intimately acquainted with this sensation, and I understood it, and I wanted it. (the screen distorts again) Fear: the ultimate power. The ultimate godhood. Once, long ago, I wanted to remove that fear from my face. But after so many eons of infinite contemplation, I understand now what it truly is. (Linkara clutches at his head in pain, groaning as he does, as he feels his head being probed and he falls over) Can your insignificant consciousness even fathom what I could do with that power? To have the power to instill fear in beings that do not understand what fear is?

Linkara: You want power over the other Outer Gods.

King: To grant them the same fear that has touched me. I would know that fear again. I would bring it to every being everywhere, forever locked in fear.

Linkara: (clutching at his head, pained) What... does any of this have to do with me?!

King: There are realms where I can freely tread as a king, and realms where I could not tread, even as a slave. (the image distorts again) Your... realm is one such place. And you... (as the image distorts again, the King grabs Linkara by his throat, choking him) you human... you killed one of us! It was not even believed we could die. And yet, you accomplished it.

Linkara: (choking from the King's grip) Technically speaking, he killed himself.

(The image of the King distorts yet again, and the King roughly shoves Linkara away)

King: I could not travel into your realm, only exert my influence. But if the proper gateway was opened, (Linkara's face twitches) I could travel to your world. I could find the fear that MissingNo discovered that caused its death, and then know it once again, and let everything know it with your device and its crude magics. The gateway is now opened!

Linkara: (realizing) The portal Linksano made me create... This whole thing was a trap just to get me to open that portal!

King: You have done well. I will travel to your world soon.

Linkara: But... I don't get it. You didn't need me, you needed the magic gun! Why didn't you just replace me with an android like you did with everybody else?

King: It was... attempted.

Linkara: (stunned) What?

King: It was attempted. One of your clockwork servants came to you in the night. It used its stun device on your form, and it did nothing. The weapons did not affect you. When you were brought here, a platinum face was grafted to yours as it'd been done a thousand times before. It had no effect on you either.

Linkara: Why the hell not?!

King: It is... not known. And that is why you still live, human, even after you have accomplished your task. I am... curious, I believe the word is: I would know your secret?

Linkara: Well, you're barking up the wrong tree, Your Majesty, 'cause I sure as hell don't know!

King: Conscious knowledge is... irrelevant. You will be given one of your hours to prepare yourself, human. From this realm, I can command all beings with machine hearts and machine minds. I am king of clockwork, master of mechanism! All that is made to serve beneath single-form consciousnesses like yourself belongs to my will! That is not enough to become monarch of eternity. I require knowledge, power, fear! (Linkara becomes quite nervous) Before I enter your realm, I will know the secret you possess, even if I must dissect your soul itself to discover it! So decrees the King of Worms!

(The image distorts one last time as the music turns dramatic and the screen goes black)