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Review Group Transformers Spotlight: Cliffjumper

MrBlack had the pick for new comics shipping June 17th and he selected Transformers Spotlight: Cliffjumper by Shane McCarthy, Denton J. Tipton and Robbie Musso.

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The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week that we each take turns selecting. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s Newstand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.

Transformers Spotlight had a few detractors when this week's pick was announced.  Was the Cliffjumper able to win us over (those of us that were able to find the book at least) or was it just a repeat of the not so popular Cyclonus issue we reviewed last year?
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Review by thefourthman

Last time we read a Transformers book, it was an incomprehensible mess. So this pick filled me with trepidation. I watched Transformers when I was a kid and had Optimus Prime and Jazz and a couple others, but I was getting into girls about the same time all that hit, so other priorities took precedence. I liked the movie, but last time I read Spotlight it was part of a bigger series, said number one on it and was fairly impenetrable for those of us who do not have a degree in Transformers. I have much the same problem with most of IDW's run, it started in the middle of continuity and as a result left me lost. I think it is possible to tell stories that are continuity and do not hinder new reading. My experience with Transformers to date was not indicative of that suspicion.

Now, the issue at hand is a different story. It is told with a noir like framing sequence that flashes us back to the beginning of this story while giving an interesting introduction to the tale at hand. Given that much of the set up is kind of placid, this framing sequence grabs the read and lulls them into the story at hand. Cliffjumper is with a bunch of aliens on some other planet separated from his Autobot friends. He is unable to fix his ship and fearful to call his buddies as the Decepticons may show as a result. Turns out his fears are correct and the Decepticons flush him out. They underestimate the "Red Runt" and sparks fly.

This is a fairly rote story, but entertaining. It is a good all ages read and easily accessible for new readers, nothing spectacular but a decent enough read.

The art is playful and solid. It lends itself well to the morality play and fantastic feel of the story. The coloring stands out, it makes the thing pop.

Story 7
Art 7
Overall 7
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Review by amlah6

I don't read Transformers comics anymore, I haven't since I was a little kid. I have a bit of a nostalgic urge that makes me want to, but with this being our second Spotlight issue that we've reviewed the comics aren't really pushing me in that direction. While I think from a technical standpoint this comic was produced admirably, creatively this is a story we've seen executed countless times before in other comics or in movies and television. That wouldn't be such a bad thing however if the comic itself inserted some of the trademarks of the franchise into the events of this issue. This is after all a Transformers comic, shouldn't something transform at some point... at least once?

The art is very fitting. The heavy manga influence suits the subject matter and the coloring makes for a very bright and vibrant look and feel.

As a stand-alone character piece this works just fine. Maybe it's a bit cute in places, but not to it's detriment. I just wish there had been a bit more too it that made it uniquely Transformers.

Story: 6
Art: 7.5
Overall: 6.75
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Review by MrBlack

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 Transformers 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 cliché, 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 foreshadowed 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 mind-blowing. The art was above average, but not brilliant, although I would have no reservations buying anything in the future from the artist.

Story: 6
Art: 7
Overall: 6.5
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Review by Starlord

I apologize for this, but I'm about to give a Yoni review.

It was okay. Not being a fan of Transformers I couldn't really get into that much, but I thought both the writing and art was solid. I can see how fans of Transformers would enjoy this.

Story: 6
Art: 7
My Score: 6.5
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Review by BubbaKanoosh

I picked this up, and I haven’t read a Transformers comic since the original Marvel series (which I happen to have the entire run of, by the way), so this was a fun read.

The story was simple and as someone else said it was a little clichéd, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The art was clean and beautiful, but the best thing about this was the fact whenever Cliffjumper spoke in the book, I read it as Casey Kasem.

Story 5
Art 8.5
Overall: 6.75
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Review by SuperginraiX

Most people know I love me some Transformers. I've pretty much gushed over everything IDW has produced as far as their mainline Transformers comics go (their luck with Beast Wars and that animated movie mini are not as good). I've loved everything from Infiltration to All Hail Megatron and have done my best to try to get the Review Group to read some TF Comics at every chance.

So, when I say that this is an incredibly mediocre effort, I'm totally serious. The Spotlight series usually does a great job letting us get to know a particular Transformer and shows us how that Transformer is different than the rest. Shane McCarthy's written some great Spotlights since he's been given the reigns of the mainline. Blurr and Jazz were great character pieces and the All Hail series has made some great twists along the way. This story could really feature anyone. Cliffjumper could be Seaspray and there would only be a few changes in the plot to accommodate. It shows us only that Cliffjumper is able to take down a platoon of nameless Decepticons single handed... but that's something that Brawn could probably do as well if you're looking for a tiny terror. As far as personality goes, this doesn't delve into Cliffy's as much as Drift or Blurr's Spotlight did under McCarthy's watch. It's basically a generic story that happens to feature an Autobot in it. It's got some good scenes and plays out well but fails as far as Spotlight goes. And no one transforms. I don't need transforming in my Transformers comics but it's always nice to be reminded what this whole premise is about.

As far as art goes, this thing does a great job. It seems that the only comics that IDW cares about when it comes to art come from Hasbro. I actually ended up dropping Angel recently because I just couldn't put up with their string of poor artists (and the story just dragged to the point of boring when After The Fall ended but I digress). The generic Decepticons look like real 'cons. The colors make everything pop. Cliffjumper looks very cool. Panel flow works well (another problem from recent Angel comics).

So we've got a generic but well told story about an Autobot that looks nice and shiny but could feature a variety of 'bots in the starring role. Still not a terrible comic but nowhere near as good as All Hail Megatron, Spotlight Blurr, Spotlight Drift, or Spotlight Jazz.

Transformers Spotlight Cliffjumper, I give you a 7. McCarthy's weakest effort but it's still a damn Transformer comic.
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Review by Chubbles

Well this is a little late but after seeing transformers tonight i got in the mood for some more so i read it when I got home. Very quick read but it was a pretty good short story and had some pretty cool moments. I liked how the back-up shows up and when they realize who they are up against they know they are fucked already. I was surprised that they killed the girl but it added to the emotional pull of the story. The art was also top notch as most of these transformers comics often are. It was a fun little book and I'm glad I read it.

Story 8
Art 9
Overall 8.5
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That gives Transformers Spotlight: Cliffjumper a group score of 7.00. A resounding 'It's not terrible' if there ever was one..

For further discussion about this issue and other assorted whining, feel free to join us in this week's thread (http://www.theouthousers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=24976) found in the Newstand forum where you are also invited to join the group by posting your own review.
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SuperginraiX has the pick for June 24th and he has selected Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1 from Marvel Comics.  Look for the new event tie-in filled thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning to join in on the fun. 

Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia #1

WRITER: Matt Fraction
PENCILS: Marc Silvestri

The Dark Avengers take on the Uncanny X-Men! Kicking off the 6-part crossover event, rising star Matt Fraction (UNCANNY X-MEN, INVINCIBLE IRON MAN) is joined by X-artist supreme Marc Silvestri (X-MEN: MESSIAH COMPLEX, CIVIL WAR: THE INITIATIVE ONE-SHOT) to bring you a story that shakes the foundations of the Marvel Universe. When mutant riots break out in San Francisco, Norman Osborn declares martial law and sends the Dark Avengers in to quell the riots and take down the X-Men. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t miss the first Avengers/X-Men crossover in over 15 years! Rated T …$3.99

The Outhouse is sponsored this week by Late Nite Draw. Recently featured on ComicsAlliances' Best Art Ever, he is a Chicago-based commissioned artist with a self-published Digital+Print one-shot coming out in October about the abominable snowman called ABOBAMANIMABBLE, and is also available for commissions. Check out some amazing art by clicking here or by clicking the banner at the top, and support the people who support The Outhouse.


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