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Invincible Iron Man #171: Review

Jun 1983
Dennis O'Neil, Luke McDonnell

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Story Name:

Ball and Chain

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Invincible Iron Man #171 Review by (January 25, 2016)
Comments: First appearance of Clytemnestra Erwin, who, like her brother, will be a regular character over the next thirty issues or so (next appearance is in issue #175). Heather Glenn is the former girlfriend of Matt Murdock, having been introduced in DAREDEVIL #126; eventually Matt broke up with her over her drinking, making her a very bad choice for Tony’s Stark’s latest flame. It is apparently at this party that Heather reveals Matt’s secret identity to city computer expert Tarkington Brown (also seen in DAREDEVIL #195). Title pun: “Ball and chain” is comical slang for a wife.

Review: DEFENDERS #19, with Luke Cage joining the team against the Wrecking Crew was my first meeting with Thunderball, who I quickly pegged as the coolest member of that villain team. One of the great battles in Marvel history in my opinion comes at the end of that issue when Hulk catches the ball in one hand and crushes it to gravel as the expression on Thunderball’s face turns from surprise to fear to getting it punched out. And now here he is again, playing a loser who is no match for a fully-powered Iron Man. I really liked the art in this one and the surprise injection of realism that the baddie’s ex won’t do a thing to help. The best part of the issue is the introduction of a delightful new heroine, Clytemnestra Erwin, whose good sense and technical expertise make her a good addition to the cast and I hope to see more of her—but not in a romance with Tony. She deserves better than that.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invincible Iron Man #171 Synopsis by T Vernon
Thunderball of the Wrecking Crew is in Niagara Falls looking for his ex-wife Rhonda and her new husband with vengeance on his mind….
James Rhodes is testing out his armor now that he is the new Iron Man, getting used to handling it. Dr. Morley Erwin supervises and when the tests are done, Rhodey offers to drive Morley to visit his sister—in Niagara Falls….
Meanwhile, Tony Stark is in his penthouse wondering whether to stay sober but his latest girlfriend Heather Glenn (whom he doesn’t remember in the morning) enters with breakfast, complete with booze….
In the massive electrical plant in Niagara Falls, Thunderball breaks in and takes hostages, one of whom is Clytemnestra Erwin, Morley’s sister. He is demanding to speak to his ex, Rhonda. Hearing about this on the radio, Rhodey suits up and heads to the scene as Iron Man. Inside, the villain, having made his point, releases his hostages but Clytemnestra chooses to remain to make sure he doesn’t cause any damage to the station that powers the northeastern USA. Iron Man arrives and takes on Thunderball—until Clytie yells at them to knock it off and suggests that Shellhead simply find Rhonda. He takes off and locates Rhonda and her new husband at a local bank—which is in the middle of a robbery. Iron Man foils the robbery but Rhonda refuses to come, wanting nothing more to do with her ex….
Elsewhere, Tony passes out drunk at a party and Heather goes off with Mayor’s aide Tarkington Brown, who means no good….
Iron Man returns to the plant where a disappointed Thunderball naturally starts a fight. The hero takes a beating because he is unaware that the villain controls his ball and chain mentally and that it can drain Shellhead’s power. Clytemnestra flicks the lights off and on, sending a Morse Code message to Iron Man to grasp the cable; he does and is quickly recharged. With his new power, Iron Man has no trouble defeating his foe. Morley Erwin arrives to find his sister safe and sound—but he brings the news that Tony Stark has been arrested….

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Luke McDonnell
Steve Mitchell
Bob Sharen
Luke McDonnell (Cover Penciler)
Steve Mitchell (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Wrecking Crew.

> Invincible Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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