I'm not going to get too in depth here, since I plan to cover it in my rant for the Collector Times, over here. (Link to come later, once its posted.)
I pretty much nailed who the Dark Avengers would be, once I figured out what Dark Reign was going to be. In fairness, so did everyone else. It's bloody obvious once you see it.
So, what surprised me?
This is a Bendis book I actually rather enjoyed. It has a few of his usual tics, but it was a fun story, and intriguing setup for future issues. I doubt the series can last very long past Dark Reign, but we'll see what happens when and if that time comes, I guess.
Now, while I enjoyed it, I do have to say that I also enjoyed it 12 years ago. When it was called Thunderbolts. And Kurt Busiek handled the similar idea much better than Bendis did. There really wasn't any mystery here, and it all kinda played out as expected, but in a well-done expected. The last page of Thunderbolts #1 will long be one of my favourite all time "Holy crap!" moments. This book doesn't reach that level. However, it's fun, it's solid, and I'm on board.
Deodato's art is solid too. I love the style he's developed. Seeing the Iron Patriot costume come back, into real continuity, in such a way is brilliant, and is going to be fun to see how this all plays out.
Some of the dialogue rings false to me, but that's pretty much a standard Bendis complaint from my corner. Still, the good outweighs the bad.
Bring on the reign.