Friday, March 13, 2015

Insignificant Other: Drift Empire of Stone # 4!

THE best thing you can say about the mini-series “Transformers Drift: Empire of Stone” is that it is finally over. The four-issue series from Shane McCarthy (who wrote Autobot Drift into continuity) and artist Guido Guidi had all kinds of problems from the get-go, which is a shame considering that the previous Drift minis were pretty good.

Perhaps the worst aspect of “Empire” is the prevalent feeling that there would only be one thing in the series that would stick: that Drift would be convinced to return to the Lost Light crew that he had left in “Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye.” After all, Ratchet had come all the way to wherever Drift was to convince the sword-wielding warrior to come back.

That element aside, everything about “Empire” essentially doesn’t matter. After the events of “Empire” # 3, there were three things that would predictably happen in the fourth and final issue.

1) Gigatron would eventually betray Drift after agreeing to an alliance to battle former sidekick Hellbat and the titular Empire
2) The Decepticon Grit would die...

In the end, no one would be able to use the Empire’s stone warriors And indeed, all that happened, and the ending was exactly what we thought it would be: Ratchet accompanying Drift back to the Lost Light.

And indeed, all that happened, and the ending was exactly what we thought it would be: Ratchet accompanying Drift back to the Lost Light. All the violence, all the big talk throughout the four issues turned out to be nothing but an elaborate way to put the genie back in the bottle by undoing the befuddling plot twist that caused Drift to leave the Lost Light to begin with. The other odd thing is that, if you look at it close enough, “Empire” # 4 is just one extended fight scene.

What “Empire” shows us is that Drift, who carried two previous mini-series by himself with his mysterious past and controversially fan-favorite personality, is now much more interesting and compelling as a member of the Lost Light ensemble, where his loner personality and code of honor made him stand out from the other crew members. The side story of Drift—then known as the Decepticon Deadlock—having originally found the Empire of Stone is nowhere as interesting as the brief glimpse of Deadlock palling around with his former best bud and later antagonist, the now-dead Turmoil. The point is that, through the Knights of Cybertron subplot and all, we now know everything we need to know about Drift’s past. There’s no more milking that particular cybernetic cow. It’s time to see what the future has in store for him.

Perhaps we will soon see a better project not just for McCarthy, who seems lost throughout this series, but also for Guidi, who is a good artist but whose skill set isn’t maximized by the particular requirements for this series.

That being said, “Empire” did one thing that was noteworthy, and that is use obscure characters who had not been used previously. McCarthy had a knack for this, and it was great fun to see Hellbat, Gigatron and, in particular, the Micromaster combiner Grit, who was the character who arguably received the most character development in the whole series. That was enough of a clue that they would have to kill him off (they certainly weren’t going to kill off Drift or Ratchet). The epilogue is thus both surprising and welcome, and we look forward to Drift doing more meaningful stuff in other series as he looks forward to a future back among the stars.

Next time: More Than Meets the Eye #38!

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