The Thing from 40,000 A.D. debuts in Superman 87 (Feb. 54), in a story by Finger, Boring and Kaye. The title alludes to the successful science-fiction horror film, “The Thing from Another World,” while the character itself bears a strong resemblance to the alien from “Who Goes There?” the short-story that inspired the film.
The biggest difference is simply the beginning, in which the mysterious creature from the future lands on Earth, just outside Metropolis. Then it begins taking on the characteristics of those it is near. Because this is a comic book, and not a horror film, the Thing does not kill and/or assimilate those it copies, but it does take on their knowledge and characteristics.
The Thing impersonates a few people, as it hunts down a huge synthetic diamond. It takes on the form of Clark Kent, and, later, Superman.
This leads to a great Superman vs Superman battle. The two are equally matched, and Superman is at a loss to figure out how to defeat him.
Their fight takes them to a nuclear test site. Superman survives ground zero, but the Thing is apparently destroyed.
It isn’t, but it does take over thirty years for the character to return, in DC Comics Presents.
Woolfolk and Plastino bring back the Prankster, not seen for a couple of years now.
An all-reporter stage production of Superman battles with the Prankster is being put up, and Clark is recruited to play Superman. The Prankster decides to mess with the production. Like they couldn’t see that coming.
There are some good scenes along the way. Just the fact that he hasn’t been in every second issue makes this more refreshing.