The Transformers: Drift and its sequel Drift: Empire of Stone are both four-issue miniseries written by Shane McCarthy and published in 2010 and 2014 respectively. The original Drift was drawn by Alex Milne and Drift: Empire of Stone is drawn by Guido Guidi.
The Transformers: Drift tells the story of the titular Drift, originally Deadlock. When recruited, Deadlock leads a bloody campaign against the Autobots, only to end up betrayed by his commanding officer and almost killed. He discovers the Circle of Light, an ancient faction of highly religious Transformers who fled when the war broke out, lead by Dai Atlas, and befriends Wing, a practitioner who tires of the Circle's isolation. With them Deadlock seeks to redeem himself, but his past threatens to catch up with them, and drag the Circle back into the war.
The Transformers: Drift: Empire of Stone takes place following Drift's exile from the Lost Light in The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye. Drift rejected by Autobot and Decepticon alike roams the galaxy, acting as a guardian to the weak, and defending innocent species from the Cybertronian war. His mission, however, is interrupted when Ratchet returns to bring him back to the Autobots. The circumstances around his exile have been revealed and his banishment has been reversed. Now Drift is at a crossroads once again: Return to the Autobots or continue his life as a roaming peace keeper. Such debates have to be tabled as Drift and Ratchet find out from an imprisoned Decepticon that Gigatron is planning on raising a massive stone army to reignite the disbanded Decepticons into a galaxy conquering empire once more, but with him at the head.
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- All-Loving Hero: WingWing: I don't have to know you, to mean you no harm.
- Arm Cannon: Milne's design of Turmoil's past self differs from his present self. In the present, Turmoil's arm is the cannon, here it's mounted on his arm.
- Bad Boss: Most under Turmoil's command fear rather than respect him, Turmoil seems to prefer it that way.
- Big Bad: Braid, leader of the Slavers that endanger both Drift and the Circle.
- Big Good: Dai Atlas, leader of the Circle of Light.
- Bittersweet Ending: Lockdown and the slave traders have been defeated, but Wing is dead.
- The Cameo: Dozens of G2 characters make their debut here.
- Canon Immigrant: Lockdown makes his IDW debut, his character having been created in Transformers Animated and his design imported from the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen toyline.
- The Cavalry: The Circle of Light.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Metalhawk and Dreadwing both make their debut in this series. They would go on to play significant roles in The Transformers: Robots in Disguise.
- The Chooser of The One: Wing found Drift.
- Death by Origin Story: Gasket is killed by an Autobot in Deadlock's back story and Wing is killed by Braid, cementing Drift down his path to redemption.
- Didn't Think This Through: A recurring habit of Drift/Deadlock's, first he launches a full out assault on a group of Autobots against orders. Later he makes a deal with Lockdown and some slave traders in a misguided attempt to buy time to warn the Circle of Light of the immanent attack.
- Mauve Shirt: Axe, the only named Circle of Light Member not central to the story (later joined by Kayak many years later).
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Wing dies after having mentored Drift.
- Mythology Gag: One of the dead transformers is Ravage from the Shattered Glass stories, though as a G1 character that technically makes him Glit.
- Perfect Pacifist People: The inhabitants of New Crystal City, a pacifist utopia; Lockdown and the alien Braid form an alliance that nearly destroys it (though they don't know it).
- Sacrificial Lamb: Gasket
- Sacrificial Lion: Wing
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: When the job goes south, Lockdown opts to leave the slavers.
- Take That!: Milne drew two dying generics as Hot Shot and Shattered Glass Ravage as some good natured ribbing to fellow creator David Willis as the former is Willis's favorite and the latter is his creation.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Wing, who unlike many characters in the Transformers comics manages to not become a Knight in Sour Armor, mostly because he dies before he gets the chance.
- Adaptational Badass: Hellbat, his original incarnation toes the line between Butt-Monkey and Dirty Coward, one of his most notable acts is accidentally killing a subordinate, while hiding behind a rock firing randomly and begging for his life. Here Hellbat is more confident, more cruel, and more threatening. His obvious Starscream tendencies are toned down, and his plan involves a God complex and the extermination of Non-Cybertronian life at the cost of Cybertronian life. Although it is later revealed that all this was because he wanted to die.
- An Arm and a Leg: Drift slices off the arm of one of the Decepticon Desperadoes that attacks him in the opening of Issue 1.
- Big Bad: Gigatron, leader of this renegade Decepticon faction.
- Blade Below the Shoulder: Vanquish is in possession of two and uses them to fight Drift.
- Deadpan Snarker: Ratchet to the expense of both Drift and Grit.Grit: I'm going to rip his head off. Clean off. With my hands. I'm going to rip it off and tear him apart. "Traitor"?! He's dead.
Ratchet: (unimpressed) You're a bit of a dark kind of guy, aren't you.
- Death Seeker: Hellbat.
- The Dragon: Hellbat to Gigatron and Vanquish to Hellbat.
- Dragon with an Agenda: Hellbat, like his original incarnation, is obviously plotting devious schemes behind his leader's back in this case taking the Stone army for himself.
- The Exile: Drift, banished from both the Decepticons and Autobots. Though Ratchet informs him that his banishment has been reversed and he can rejoin the Autobots, Drift elects to remain independent.
- Fastball Special: Gigatron and Drift.
- Foil: Ratchet and Drift are this to each other.
- Giant Mook: The Stone Army features at least one giant statue minion.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Drift, Ratchet and Grit all end up prisoners of Gigatron. When a guard, Knockout, passes by, Ratchet orders Drift to play dead and begins struggling with Grit, claiming the Con's a murderer. Knockout just looks confused and insulted at the whole ordeal. He lets them out anyway, being friends with Grit, and gives them back their weapons.Ratchet: Well?
Knockout: Well what? I'm supposed to be shocked, open the cell and run in there so you can hit me on the head and escape? That guy's not even dying. Look at him, he's fine.
Drift: You don't know!
- Guilt by Association Gag: Grit, having been found with the Autobots as their prisoner, is branded a traitor and sent away with them. When he protests, Hellbat counters that if he was a prisoner, that shows weakness unbecoming of a Decepticon and he's carted off to the brig anyway.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: In IDW comics we've seen horizontal and vertical examples of this trope. Here it's a diagonal one with Hellbat.
- Large and in Charge: Though his size varies from scene to scene, Gigatron towers over the Decepticons.
- Never Found the Body: Gigatron.
- Odd Couple: Ratchet and Drift continue this Dynamic from The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Hellbat as revealed in issue 3Drift: So you've been capturing and killing Autobots and Decepticons to make yourself an army.
Hellbat: One that I'll be able to control absolutely.
Drift: For what?
Hellbat: To Kill.
Drift: Kill what?
- Save the Villain: Drift abandons his hiding spot when he finds Grit about to be executed by his fellow Decepticons under suspicion of helping the Autobots.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Hellbat.
- The Starscream: Hellbat, unsurprising seeing as it was his role back in the source material.
- Use Your Head: Grit's response to Hellbat's accusations of treachery is bashing his forehead against Hellbat's mouth plate.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: A much more benign version than most between Ratchet and Drift.