Yep, this is when the numbering disappeared.
Transformers Spotlight: Hot Rod
IDW Publishing (November, 2006)
WRITER: Simon Furman
ARTIST: Nick Roche
COLORIST: Liam Shalloo
SELECTED COVER ART: James Raiz
LETTERER: Robbie Robbins
EDITOR: Dan Taylor
Hot Rod seems like a cocky thrillseeker who sees “you can’t” as a challenge to do just that. But there was one mission that cost him his team, when they were sent to find an interstellar map called “The Magnificence”, an oracle-like device that could find all the energy sources the Decepticons needed to conquer the galaxy. However, something went horribly wrong and all of Hot Rod’s team were killed save one, Dealer. Hot Rod effects a rescue mission from one of the toughest Decepticon prisons, but Dealer is actually Doubledealer, a Decepticon agent who secretly sabotages the mission and is now being sent by Banzai-Tron to find where Hot Rod stashed The Magnificence.
What they got right: By itself the story isn’t bad. Hot Rod gets a little character development but still gets to be the light and fun bot he was before “Rodimus Prime” ruined him. The art is good, although there are a few panels I’d nitpick (usually how it goes with me and Roche’s art) but mostly decent. It’s also a good prison break plan. Hot Rod is not stupid.
What they got wrong: You know how I complain about Furman breaking out too many stories at once? Well here’s another reason: there is no payoff. To this story there is, yes, but longterm, the Magnificence never comes up again and Doubledealer isn’t shown trying for it again. I don’t think today’s writers even remember this tale and Furman isn’t doing Transformers comics anymore as far as I know. So we have a set-up to a story that will never happen. This won’t be the last Spotlight that does this either although I think it’s the only one in this set before the next story arc.
Recommendation: It’s a fair prison break story but when it comes to IDW continuity it’s barely a footnote. Only pursue for a complete collection.