Guardians of the Galaxy 3 was cover dated August 1990 and was on sale June 1990, sharing the spinner racks with Black Hawks #16, Brute Force #1, Checkmate #30, Excalibur #25, Firestorm #100 and Spider-Man #1.
Split decision was written by and pencilled by Jim Valentino with assistance from Steve Montano, Ken Lopez and Evelyn Stein. It opens with Nikki being held at gunpoint by Taserface (I am still struggling with that name) and Aleta/Starhawk hit by the Stark weapons. While Vance checks on the fallen Starhawk and Aleta, Martinex freezes Taserface to keep him still while they plan. Vance sees that is no longer merged with Starhawk and when Vance clears the way of some Stark troops, Starhawk simply stands and flies away. He states that he must go, once again quoting that he is one who knows. Vance uses the star-badge on Aleta’s chest to teleport her to the Freedoms Lady and heads back to Charlie and Martinex.
Meanwhile, Yondu awakens in a Courgan home, with a sharp knife pressed against his throat as a native of Courg struggles with the desire to kill him. Yondu compliments the man on his compassion and asks why he feared Yondu so much more than the rest. The Courgan, known as Atur tells Yondu that there were other visitors before and that one like him killed his brother. Yondu tells him that he is one of a group who’ve all had their homes conquered and enslaved and seek only to protect Courg from the Stark. He then tells him he will return and talk with him again.
Then we have another cut-away with Firelord flying by. This time the people who see him are a group of aliens calling themselves Force. They have a copy of the book of Antag as well, so it seems reasonable to assume that they are the group who keep beating the Guardians to the clues relating to their quest. I’d go into them more, but they’ll have their moment to shine soon enough.
Back to Courg, Nikki’s body heat has started melting the ice and before Taserface can get free Vance blasts him. Nikki in revenge, blasts Taserface’s unconscious form on maximum stun, which will leave him in agony when he awakes. Martinex tries to berate Nikki for her actions, while Vance calls on Charlie-27 to return to the ship, but he has another goal in mind.
The team are back on the Freedom’s Lady, Charlie returns carrying the Officer overseeing the Stark troops on Courg. On the Stark homeworld, the High Sister of the Stark is told of the Guardians’ interference. The fleet is put on yellow alert, but the scene does absolutely nothing else. Aleta has now awakened and feels the absence of Starhawk and is very happy about that. Vance has an adamantium cover to his arm and it’s suggested that he covers his entire costume with it.
The team is then called to see that a Stark ship has arrived and is now demanding their surrender. The Guardians try to negotiate, using their hostage as leverage. This doesn’t go well.
The scene switches to Starhawk sending out some sort of flare in deep space and flying back to the Freedom’s Lady as fast as he is able, just in time to see the ship destroyed by the Stark.
To. Be. Continued.
Things of note in this issue:
Tensions between Starhawk and Vance Astro resurface after Starhawk needs to leave without checking on Aleta.
Nikki, still has a number of anger issues and willingly tortures the unconscious Taserface with her wrist lasers.
Yes another appearance of Firelord, in which he does nothing other than get noticed by someone else.
The other group of aliens searching for the shield that the Guardians are searching for are called Force and one of them, who’s face is obscurred, may be the one who killed Atur’s brother and another looks very much like Brahl, who was one of Korvac’s minions.
Charlie-27 in battle does pretty much whatever he wants to it seems. When everyone is heading back to the ship, Charlie just carries on with what he’s doing. He’s also picked up the nickname of Chunky from Nikki. It would seem unkind, but considering he is 11 times more dense than a regular human, it sort of fits.
Starhawk comments that he knows that his flare will be seen, but he also knows that he will not get back to the ship on time. This is one of the clues regarding his status as One-Who-Knows, which will be answered in the very near future.