In the most recent interview with Jeff Parker about the Thunderbolts/Dark Avengers; he alludes to the team being played/manipulated for some purpose:
PARKER: Luke Cage is ready to take a break from his duties and has been given the perfect point to opt out -- but chooses the opposite. He knows something wrong is going down and he does not like being manipulated.
PARKER: Like Luke, they both know something is horribly wrong and the Thunderbolts are being used for a secret purpose. Both have been great about playing ball with the authorities, but now you'll see what they can do when they don't trust those people and can use their skills to get answers.
So who do you think is going to be revealed as the grand puppet master of the program? Who put Crossbones on the team, who gave Melissa the Underbolts, who is behind F.A.C.T.? Will it be an old Thunderbolts foe? The team has a history for some dark villain being the overall backer (Zemo, Strucker, Osborn); so will it be one of them, or another of Marvel's uber-kind?
WHO IS THE PUPPET MASTER???