Faced with the challenge of introducing a new title and team without upsetting old fans, Jeff Parker intelligently starts us off with an explanation of where the old Thunderbolts are and why they need to be replaced. Then he uses Luke Cage, who has been one of the driving forces of this series for ages, to transition us into the new world of the Dark Avengers. It is Cage's reactions, first to seeing the team and then to learning of their purpose, that teach the reader everything they need to know about the Dark Avengers as a unit. Even if you haven't read their past exploits (as I haven't) the gist of it all is summed up when they first mouth off to Cage and he then attacks them on sight.
Sadly, the ending is pretty much spoiled by the cover, but it is Cage's reasons for changing his mind about leaving the program that really matters for the the story, not the contingency plan he settles on using. And even if the ending is weakened, the opening completely rules, and makes me really excited to see the new team in action on their first official outing.
That opening is also where Declan Shalvey shines brightest, mostly just because of the Masticore or whatever it was. But Shalvey brings his usual tone of chaotic energy to the entire issue, and the fight scene between the remaining Thunderbolts and the Dark Avengers is a whole lot of rock-shattering fun. The panels where Cage forces his way through Toxie Doxie's blast and then everyone sort of piles on top of each other were particularly enjoyable, as were the expressions on the Dark Avengers' faces while being kept in check by their nanites.
Basically, calling it Dark Avengers and changing the cast doesn't seem to have done much to the ultimate feel of this book. It still has all the humor and off-the-hinges action as it always did, and the characters still have widely varied motivations and moral compasses. I do hope we get the old team to meet up with this new team sooner than later, but I'm not too worried about the time in between.