Guardians of the Galaxy 6 was cover dated November 1990 and was on sale in September 1990, sharing the spinner racks with Adventures of Superman #472, Cadillacs & Dinosaurs #1, Justice League Europe #19, Nomad #1, Question Quarterley #1 and Web of Spider-Man #70.
To the Victor, the Shield was written by and drawn by Jim Valentino and inked by Steve Montano and opens with Starhawk & Aleta teleported to a large indoor area. Before anything happens, Aleta decides now the is the time to unload to Starhawk about why she hates him so much. She blames him for the death of her children, not because he did it, but because he didn’t see it coming and prevent it. Whilst this arguement is going on Eighty-Five and Tachyon of Force arrive and start battling the two of them.
Eighty-Five traps Aleta in some metal walls, shaped by his magnetic powers, Aleta vanishes from this trap when Eighty-Five feels guilty over trapping her. Starhawk learns through experience that Tachyon only reacts, so Starhawk wins his match by not actually doing anything
Back in the holding area Starhawk arrives, seeing Aleta, Charlie-27, Nikki, Yondu and the unconscious form of Martinex waiting for him. Seeing that Martinex isn’t actually dead Starhawk points this out, getting more grief for being One-Who-Knows for doing so. Undeterred he walks over to Martinex and using his light powers, heals him enough to start him breathing again.
Nikki then calls for Mainframe to take them back to their ship, but instead he brings them to a meeting hall. Guardians of the Galaxy in one booth, Force in the other and between them Captain America’s shield. Standing in front of the booths are Vance Astro and Interface, ready for their match up.
Before Vance can move, Interface transmutes part of his protective suit into helium, reopening his wound from #3. Dropped to his knees by the tremendous pain, Vance cannot stop Interface from grabbing the shield in triumph.
Interface holds the shield up and demands the obedience of the Guardians who, well don’t agree. Interface casts the shield aside, angered by it’s lack of power. Vance can see it’s power and despite his pain and all that has happened, he rises walks over to the shield and holds it aloft. His ideals restored, he stands prouder than ever before holding the shield once owned by the inspiration to the Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America.
Force are then teleported away and it’s time for the big reveal, Mainframe is the disembodied mind of the former Avenger, the Vision.
The Vision pretty much admits he wasn’t going to give the shield to Force and used the match ups to test the weaknesses of the Guardians. Martinex’s was a test of courage and he passed. Charlie’s a test of cunning and he failed. Aleta and Nikki were tested on mercy and compassion and also failed. Yondu’s test was one of honour and his was a pyrrhic victoy and Starhawk was tested on faith and passed.
The Vision also reveals that he travelled to this world looking for the lost colony of mutants who left Earth during the War of the Worlds, he didn’t find them and merged with the planet to access it’s systems. He later on found the colony, but is now no longer able to go there. The Guardians take this mission on after posing for a picture.
Notes: This is the end of the first arc of the title.
Aleta gives a reason for changing her outfit and her coldness toward Starhawk.
Despite once being a Superhero, Mainframe uses Force, a pirate crew, as part of his plan and when their done with lets them escape.
The Guardians have had adventures yet to be told about, which is hinted here.
This issue does try to make Starhawk a more sympathetic character, showing his cold and calculating demeanour as a surface, deep down he is a caring man, torn by the loss of his children and who wastes no time in using his power to heal Martinex.
Their tests reveal something interesting, usually in fiction of the women being more compassionate and merciful, which to be honest is a little stereotypical or sexist than needs be. Stuff happens to people and it can often leave scars, Aleta and Nikki lack compassion in Mainframe’s eyes, but you can understand why.
Final notes:Whilst the art is not as impressive as the last issue, the writing is much better. This issue ties up the last plot thread from the older appearances with the finding of the last colony of humans. Vance Astro shrugs off his self-pity and has his hero moment and claims the shield of Captain America. Vance’s idolising of Cap does become one of his defining characteristics and the shield changes him for the better.
Over-all a solid issue and a satisfying conclusion to the first arc and now the Guardians can get on with their adventures.