Strange Tales 164-166
Story: Jim Lawrence, Dan Adkins
Art: Dan Adkins, George Tuska
The search for Victoria Bentley begins! The plot of these three issues ranges from middling to downright terrible to the point of being comical. Jim Lawrence continues to fill in writing duties, and I believe it is his last work on the title thankfully. The first issue has Dr. Strange being warped to an alien planet by the Living Tribunal. Almost the entire issue is him exploring the jungle surface which is a surprise to him given the vision of Victoria had her captive in what looked like a technologically advanced location.
Dan Adkins does some solid work here crafting exotic creatures like this scaled giant snail that can shoot sonic beams out of its antennae. After Strange is able to defeat it using a stun spell, he encounters his next threat. A giant gargoyle demon bat monster that is too much of a match for him. He opts to retreat into a small cave and avoid battle which conveniently puts him at the entrance of a technologically advanced bunker.
A giant lens sits atop the door. It blasts a ray directly at Dr. Strange to deliver a warning. The one who captured Victoria reveals himself as Yandroth the Scientist Supreme. He instructs Strange to just walk away, he has decided to make Victoria his wife which is a very classic Silver Age villain move. Ignoring the warning, Dr. Strange proceeds further into the cave and into the next issue.
For being a Scientist Supreme, Yandroth sure is a moron. At the start of the next issue, Dr. Strange encounters a massive door that he would never be able to open. So Yandroth opens it for him?! I guess he really wants to show Strange that his scientific knowledge is way better than magic and to showcase his sweet death ray? Strange casts a small spell and blows it up. Luckily he had a back up brain-searing device which he fires and hits Strange with from behind. It appears to have killed Strange and Yandroth moves out to inspect the body. Of course Strange isn’t dead, he was able to astral project in time therefore not having an active brain to fry.
When Yandroth arrives, Strange returns to his body and disarms his pistol. He didn’t see the fist coming though! I’ll never stop being amused by the villain cold-cocking a spell caster mid-spell. Instead of finishing the job though, he runs off because he feels outmatched? Strange wakes up and chases after him. When he arrives at the control room he is too late, Yandroth has activated Voltorr! The most metal 60s robot I have ever seen! Check out those sweet lightning rod drumsticks! Take in his lack of essential joints!
A month later in the final issue, Jim decided Voltorr wasn’t cool enough and renamed him to Voltorg. George Tuska hops in for art duties and makes the decision to give Voltorg even less joints leaving him with completely rigid legs and arms. Strange immediately blinds the robot and he just starts rampaging blowing up the entire base. Everything is going wrong, things are on fire. Yondroth really knows he is in over his head now and goes to grab Victoria and teleport off the planet.
Victoria is really against this marriage, they are from different worlds. Yondroth does not care for the Earth girl’s feelings on the matter and carries her off to the teleporter room. Dr. Strange meanwhile continues to battle against Voltorg who has regained its sight. This time Strange shoots him with magic so hard it just blows off his entire face. In just a really pathetic way to go, Voltorg crashes into a wall and falls apart.
Strange resumes his pursuit but finds that he is too late, Yondroth has activated the teleporter machine and set the dial to purple planet (no numbers, just planet pictures on the dial). He figures he can use the machine right after with the same settings. He is then teleported to… Stone Henge! The location many issues ago where the Ancient One met his demise. When he arrives, Yondroth and Victoria are nowhere in sight but the Ancient One is speaking to him telepathically. It seems he is still alive in some form.
The final two issues of Strange Tales have Denny O’Neil back on as writer. I’m interested to see if he can save this arc before Dr. Strange moves into his own title for the first time.