Overall, this issue is a joy. Spencer's Malus is a revelation. He's clearly sending up the mad-scientist trope, and it's a thrill to read. Malus demanding that Cap call him "Dr." Malus because he spent four extra years in "mad-scientist school?" Hilarious. Complaining that his previous accommodations in an abandoned warehouse were too clichéd? Awesome. Plus, Spencer doesn't leave all the good lines for Malus. Misty's response to Sam turning into Cap-Wolf is amazing: the stream of werewolf-related jokes, taking a video of Sam scratching and sending it to the Avengers telling them that he has fleas, etc. It's all just too good. I also loved Sam's irritability, particularly his anger as he's losing consciousness and realizing that Malus is going to turn him into Cap-Wolf. It's not an anger based on the fear that he's going to become a werewolf. No, no. It's an anger based on the ignominy of it all. He treats it as a fate worse than death, and maybe he's not wrong, given Misty's reaction.
Even better, we have a great reveal at the end: the Serpent Society returns! They're capitalists now, calling themselves "Serpent Solutions." Spencer reveals that Malus was working on his hybrid process for them, as part of research for a cosmetics corporation to develop a product that allows the user to morph himself into whatever look he wants. It's remarkably clever (and, frankly, believable). Given the deft political and social commentary that we've already seen in this series, I can't wait to see how Spencer uses the Serpent Soci...Solutions. (The name and weaponry of the Sons of the Serpents also makes more sense.) Between them and the the Zodiac returning in "Amazing Spider-Man," my 1980s heart is full of love.
I have just one quibble here. I had thought, in the last issue, that the Sons of the Serpents guy had grabbed Joaquin, the grandson of the woman who called Sam in the first place. However, we learn here that the grandson was one of the victims; the guy who the militiaman grabbed (and who worked with the Serpents) was a different guy. (He was actually leading the migrants to the Sons, not to safety.) Spencer probably could've made that clearer, even if he just had someone call him by his name ("Frank!") when he appeared in the first issue.
But, obviously, overall, I loved this issue. Spencer reminds us that reading comics can actually be fun while also exciting and intriguing. Who knew?
**** (four of five stars)