IDW’s “Transformers: Spotlight” is one of the best things about their particular version of the property. While the natural tendency is to focus on the big guns like Optimus Prime, Hot Rod, Megatron, and Starscream, there are those of us out there who do actually want to see an Ultra Magnus comic, or a Flywheels comic (still waiting!) or — as in this case — a Cliffjumper comic.
For those that don’t know who I’m talking about, Cliffjumper was the red version of Bumblebee. And if you still don’t know who I’m talking about, perhaps you’re reading the wrong review. Tasked with giving the character more personality than “Red Bumblebee,” IDW has chosen to make Cliffjumper an elite assassin. Nothing particularly wrong with that — if nothing else, it’s memorable simply for the juxtaposition.
As the issue opens, we find Cliffjumper mid-mission, confronted with two (biological) humanoids. It’s all a fairly standard kids-meet-robot situation, complete with the eventual arrival of Cliffjumper’s enemies, and a look at how the Cybertronian war affects those caught in the crossfire. As far as Transformers comics go, it’s a perfectly acceptable one-off issue.
More questionably, however, is whether or not it could only have been a story about Cliffjumper. Pretty much any Autobot could plug into the central role without much difficulty, but that says more about the under-development of most of the Autobots than it does about the story itself. The important thing is that the comic manages to be satisfyingly self-contained, giving Cliffjumper his moment in the spotlight, while serving the secondary purpose of allowing IDW Transformers fans a new chapter in the ongoing story.
Although it’s fair to say there’s little about the issue that’s breaking new ground, any Transformers fan who picks up the comic should find something to like — even if that’s just the artwork by Robby Musso, who delivers some chunky, expressive robots set against an atypically (for a Transformers book) organic landscape. If you’re a dedicated Transformers fan, you’ll be pleased, and if you’re just dipping in, it should scratch the itch. Ultimately, you can’t complain when a comic achieves that much.