IDW Publishing: "Drift: Empire of Stone" Issue #3 Comic Book Review
Title: "Empire of Stone" Part Three
Cover Price: $3.99 (US)
Publishing Date: January 28, 2015 (January 21, 2015 in the UK)
Writer: Shane McCarthy
Art by: Guido Guidi
Inks by: Stephen Baskerville
Colors by: John-Paul Bove
Letters by: Tom B. Long
Editor: John Barber
The Autobots have been captured by the Decepticons, but they are not following Gigatron's orders. Instead, Hellbat is the one in charge! He explains that he has been experimenting on the Stone Warriors integrating Cybertronian parts into their structure. It is the only way to activate them since Drift (in his former Decepticon days) slaughtered the Monks who would have normally brought them back. Hellbat plans to use the creatures to destroy everything. After eons of existence, he has determined that Transformers only exist to destroy, so he has embraced that goal wholeheartedly!
Drift knows he has to shut this plan down and thanks to the interference of Grit, he manages to get to Gigatron and propose a daring plan: join forces and stop Hellbat!
This issue brings up a line of thought that I imagine many Transformers share: why do they exist? However, instead of coming up with a constructive way of dealing with this existential crisis, Hellbat clearly just lost his mind and decided to trash everything in existence. I found myself wondering just what I would do in that case, outliving entire civilizations and living in the Decepticon culture of destruction for so long. I think anyone would go a little loopy in that situation.
The pacing of the battle scene is kind of fun if you look at it like a movie. I can imagine the scene cuts and everything in motion. However, not everyone is going to see it that way, and while it is nowhere near as egregious as the last issue, the battle sequence is dragged out a bit in this issue. I think the whole rescue with the grapple is a neat moment, but the set up took a bit too long. I get that it's a "cool move" on Drift's part, but I think it would've been fun if Ratchet had been the one to have to save Grit single handedly (grumbling the whole time).
I did enjoy watching a couple former-Micromasters get some action in this issue. Grit essentially creating a critical distraction was great, and it seems he was drawn slightly smaller than the other characters in the scene, perhaps a holdover of his "Micromaster" origins. It was also neat to see Vanquish both named and become a functional, independent vehicle form (remember, in the toy he becomes the rear half of a plane). Giving him swords coming out of his arms was another neat design touch. I enjoyed playing with Micromasters a lot as a kid, so seeing them "in action" is always neat for me.
One thing that I found interesting about this issue was the titular character himself. Drift is not portrayed as the Mary Sue (or Marty Stu if you prefer) that many Transformers fans often see him as. I was surprised he didn't just slice Vanquish to pieces in a couple moves. Indeed, Vanquish even calls him out saying he thought he was "better". Of course, the "in story" reason for this is we are not seeing Drift at his best. He's been running himself ragged for a while now and he shows it with his dented up armor. It was cool to see him also finally reach the conclusion that Ratchet was right and it was time to stop trying to take on the universe by himself.
The artwork in this issue continues the fine work from the previous issues. I do appreciate the contrast between the Autobots and Grit (who are looking rough) and the more "clean" look of Hellbat and his troops. My favorite parts were Gigatron's transformation and take down of the Stone Warriors. It was big, dramatic and got a lot done in one page. Plus, I know Gigatron's not exactly the easiest character to draw since he's quite ornate so kudos for making him look good!
This issue was an improvement over the last one, and I am glad the explanation of Hellbat's portrayal was explained and then quickly escalates the situation. I liked most of the action (especially Gigatron's) and I'm very interested to see what happens next!