Transformers Spotlight: Cliffjumper
I have been a huge Transformers fan for the majority of my life, and when IDW secured the franchise, I jumped right back into it. Apart from the numerous maxi-series' helmed by Simon Furman and Shane McCarthy, a staple of IDW's re-envisioning of the Tranformers has been their Spotlight one-shots. These started out as a way to bring focus to a single character in a way that could not be done in the maxis. While Furman eventually hijacked these in order to conclude the story he began in Infiltration (the PTB apparently wanted to clear the road for All Hail Megatron and cut the last maxi out from under Furman), with Cliffjumper and the Drift one-shot the title is back where it belongs.
After reading Shane McCarthy's excellent Drift one-shot and seeing how massively he has improved over the course of the All Hail Megatron series, I had high hopes for this issue. While my hopes weren't quite dashed, I was a bit disappointed. As both thefourthman and amlah6 have pointed out, the story is fairly rote and cliche, with a stranded Cliffjumper befriending some peaceful aliens, and then having his violent past come back to haunt him as he is discovered by Decepticon team.
There were a lot of things that I liked about the story. The story presented a side of Cliffjumper that we rarely see, and it was interesting to see how quickly he adapted to an environment without war. Of course, when the war returns to him, we soon see why the Decepticons sent a small army after him. I liked the art, and this was one of the few times where I've seen anyone competently draw both humanoids and robots since IDW took over the franchise (avoid those movie tie-in books like the plague, as the art is god awful). The manga style was a good fit, and harkened back to the roots of the franchise.
Of course, there were some things I did not like. As stated, the story was by the numbers, and while there was the implication of much violence done to the Decepticon forces, it would have been nice to see a bit more on panel action from the notoriously hot-headed Cliffjumper. In addition, while the "humans" were central to the story, they were ultimately little more than a plot device. The young girl got some good screen time, but that only forshadowed her eventual death more clearly. Speaking of which, where did that couple come from at the end of the story? It would have been nice to dedicate at least one sentence towards explaining how the surviving child ended up with a family, particularly where he and his sister had been living alone previously.
Overall, I though the comic was pretty average. It was a nice story, but nothing mindblowing. The art was above average, but not brilliant, although I would have no reservations buying anything in the future from the artist.