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Invincible Iron Man #41: Review

Sep 1971
Gerry Conway, George Tuska

Story Name:

The Claws of the Slasher

Review & Comments

2.5 stars

Invincible Iron Man #41 Review by (June 4, 2013)
So this brings us to the Iron Man issue: a couple of baddies in leopard print jumpers are trying to sabotage buildings in the D.C. area and Iron Man gets involved while Marianne starts getting weird visions. The plot doesn’t make sense—it never does in the Mister Kline saga—though for now it seems to be merely about sabotage and discrediting Tony Stark. Kline doesn’t know here that Tony is Iron Man though he is aware of Daredevil’s and Black Widow’s identities in DD’s issues; his boss knows but somehow saw fit to let him go ahead with the complicated scheme to discredit Tony rather than simply killing Shellhead. (Kline learns Tony’s identity by issue #43, though.) Why is there a psychic on the team if he never foresees anything that matters, and especially when everyone ignores his warnings? And wouldn’t his uncontrollable transformations make him a loose cannon in any event. Nice art, though, especially in making Slasher look like a frightening and formidable opponent; Demetrius, on the other hand, comes across a bit silly, resembling a giant goat-man. In the end, the dialogue heavy story obscures the fight scenes and we drown in a mass of word balloons. Next appearance of Mister Kline: DAREDEVIL #80-81.

Review/Commentary: This is the (sort of) beginning of the Mister Kline saga; Kline was a mysterious villain who appeared in DAREDEVIL #78-84 and IRON MAN #41-45. But if you’re picturing an epic crossover of two heroes uniting to confront a master villain too powerful to defeat singly, forget it. The two series never cross over and the two heroes never meet. Instead what happens is, the same background baddie shows up in several apparently disconnected stories until writer Gerry Conway seemingly got tired of him and killed him off. The main Kline saga is in the DD series, the IM issues are merely tie-ins that add nothing to the proceedings. Mister Kline is a well-dressed man with a long cigarette holder whose face is always in shadow as he devises various plots to discomfort DD and Shellhead; he is generally seen in a lavish apartment or facing a view screen. And most of his schemes involved robots, mind control, or mutation. So that’s that. Iron Man could have stayed home. (My thanks to for the details). Mister Kline’s first appearance was in DAREDEVIL #78-79, where he hired a gang of thugs to kidnap a hippie couple to use as guinea pigs in a mutagenic experiment. Daredevil swings down, drives off the punks, and offers the couple refuge in Matt Murdock’s apartment. Kline’s scientific minion, the Professor, mutates the gang’s leader Bull Taurus (no kidding) into a huge bull-headed monster; DD defeats Man-Bull and the couple makes it away. Subplot: Kline is also blackmailing Foggy Nelson, then District Attorney. Biggest unanswered question: Why is Kline targeting this specific couple? No idea.

Comments: First appearance of Mister Kline in this title, though his real debut was in DAREDEVIL #78. Fun Fact: this is the eleventh cover in the series where we see only the back of Iron Man’s head.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invincible Iron Man #41 Synopsis by T Vernon
In an alley in Washington D.C. lurk two bizarre and sinister figures. An android called Slasher, his long metal fingers sharpened to points, works on a fiendish device while his partner, a tall bearded psychic known as Demetrius, stands guard. A jet soars overhead and the psychic gains a premonition that someone on that craft will be a threat to the scheme of their employer, Mister Kline. But Slasher scoffs at such blatherings and continues to fine-tune the transmitter….
Aboard that plane are Tony Stark and Marianne Rodgers, both agonizing over their budding romance. Tony has strong feelings for her but his track record with women—Pepper Potts, Janice Cord, Whitney Frost—makes him hesitant to ruin another woman’s life. On a simpler note, Marianne is frightened by the vision of danger she had concerning Tony and Iron Man—and she reaches out a hand to comfort him. As the attractive protagonists disembark at the airport, Slasher activates his device and the terminal building, full of people, starts to collapse. Quickly dashing off and donning his armor, Iron Man speeds into action, using his tractor beams to keeps the supports stable, trying to rescue as many people as he can. Soon the power drain becomes too much and Iron Man collapses. Marianne arrives in search of Tony and the wounded hero reaches out to her but she pours out her fears and confusion over her visions and dashes off.
The baddies, bickering over the validity of Demetrius’ visions of disaster, report back to their boss, the mysterious Mister Kline. Kline berates Slasher for his confidence, since Iron Man prevented the disaster from being as great as intended. He then dispatches his chastened minions to the next part of the scheme….
Tony arrives at the Senate Committee meeting he was called to and finds Ben Crandal, another industrialist there. The two captains of industry are stunned when Senator Ernest McJavit aggressively accuses both of them of submitting substandard work to the government—the latest example being the airport terminal which collapsed, apparently of itself. He then suggests that Iron Man’s presence at the scene of the disaster is evidence of a conspiracy. As Tony attempts to rebut the wild charges, the Capitol itself begins to shake violently; Tony dashes out and changes into Iron Man and tracks the sonic beam to its source: the two villains in a nearby alley. As the Slasher takes on the hero with his built-in weaponry, Demetrius is overwhelmed by the presence of another psychic and begins to transform—into a giant whose bulging forehead soon bursts forth with tentacles bearing claws at the ends….
[Elsewhere, Kline reports to his mysterious superior that the plan to discredit Stark and Crandal is under way, and that his minions are about to destroy Iron Man. The superior is pleased and rings off…]
Demetrius attacks Slasher, taking vengeance for his constant mockery—until they remember their mission and gang up on an injured Iron Man. Marianne arrives on the scene, drawn by her visions and her superior abilities cause Demetrius to have a psychic breakdown, leaving Slasher alone to be easily defeated by the hero. Marianne collapses in Tony’s arms but he fears that this romance too will end in disaster….

George Tuska
Jim Mooney
George Tuska (Cover Penciler)
Frank Giacoia (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Art Simek.
Editor: Stan Lee.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Marianne Rodgers, Mister Kline, Whitney Frost.

> Invincible Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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