We tried to ratchet up the character somewhat, giving him a powerful physique and portraying him as “half psychotic killer, half ruthless cyborg.” Usually I’m not real pleased to see a Silver Age character turned darker and grittier like this, but in the case of Tharok, I think it’s in the spirit of the original Fatal Five, which was supposed to be a collection of five of the truly most ruthless and deadly villains and I felt like Tharok could use a little more heft to hold his own in this group of villains.
We tried to drive home the point by showing Persuader and Mano upset that McCauley has brought back their former teammate, whose depravity is beyond the realm even for these cutthroats. McCauley calmly informs them that he’s reprogrammed Tharok’s computer half and the hybrid villain has no choice but to follow McCauley’s instructions.
McCauley’s plan is simple, let the Fatal Five take over New Earth on the condition that they give all of McCauley’s business interests favorable treatment. The Five take off on their mission and we learn that they were dealing the whole time with a hologram of McCauley, with the real thing back on his estate on the planet Gallàn, safe from the “bacteria-teeming aberrations” of his villainous team.
From there we jump to New Earth, where Ultra Boy, Apparition, Andromeda and Catspaw are meeting with U.P. Vice-Chairwoman Jeryl in hopes of securing vital funding for the New Earth (Jeryl was a U.P. official who first appeared in Superboy/LSH #249).
The meeting is quickly interrupted when the Fatal Five attacks, crashing through the capitol dome. A vicious fight quickly ensues and Apparition radios back to Cosmic Boy at the headquarters to get reinforcements.
We find Ferro and Matter-Eater Lad in the Rec Room jamming as an old-school rock band when the call comes in for all available team members. As they head out, they bump into Shrinking Violet and Computo, who’d just been in the showers. Poor Computo accidentally gives the guys a glimpse of her bra and is quite chagrined to be subject of the boys’ stares. It was a little human touch we threw into the scene to liven things up a bit and Chris Sprouse illustrated it brilliantly, with the look of mortification on Computo’s face perfectly capturing the emotion that a girl like Computo would feel in this circumstance.
Back at the battle, we see Catspaw realizing McCauley’s Emerald Empress is the weak link of this team and attacks her, bringing the smitten Persuader to the defense of the panicking Empress.
From there we switch to deep space, where we for the first time confirm that there are two Emerald Empresses, the hapless member of McCauley’s team and the Cera Kesh Empress who battled the Legion in #4. And that Cera Empress is monitoring the battle on Earth and growing increasingly furious at the ineptitude of her counterpart on McCauley’s team.
Back at the battle, the Legionnaire reinforcements show up and Cosmic Boy uses his magnetic powers to yank the Atomic Axe away from the Persuader. But he discovers the Persuader can still maintain telepathic control of the axe and Coz finds himself wielding the weapon against his teammates, which forces him to release the axe back to the Persuader.
As the battle continues, we look in on McCauley again and learn that he’s not especially rooting for his team to win, just to create enough damage to cause panic and chaos on New Earth and clear the way for “McCauley’s man” to take over.
Back at the brawl, Computo is cornered by Mano and in big trouble until Ferro offers to let Mano try his lethal touch on the iron version of Ferro. Before Mano can try, Computo rallies and yanks Ferro to safety, saying Mano’s touch would have destroyed the thrill-seeking Legionnaire. Ferro can’t imagine not surviving the test and seems a little disappointed he didn’t get to try.
The panicking Emerald Empress has had enough and she uses the eye to teleport herself away. It looks like the battle is swinging in the Legionnaires’ favor until Tharok grabs Vice Chairwoman Jeryl as a hostage and demands immediate surrender of New Earth or he’ll kill Jeryl. Cosmic Boy realizes they can’t let the U.P. dignitary die and says they’ll do whatever Tharok says.
We then return to Gallàn and see the rattled Empress has returned to McCauley desperately seeking comfort after being exposed to the horrors of mortal battle. McCauley, of course, feels nothing but contempt for his inept combatant, but is startled to have their exchange brutally interrupted as his Empress is obliterated in an explosion of Emerald energy.
It’s the other Empress, Cera Kesh, and she informs the stunned McCauley that eyes come in pairs and she possesses (or is possessed by) a second Emerald Eye. The next issue, therefore, can only be called “An Eye For an Eye.”