Art by Diogenes Neves
|First appearance||Marvel Graphic Novel #4: The New Mutants (September 1982)|
|Created by||Chris Claremont
|Alter ego||Roberto "Bobby" da Costa|
Mutant Liberation Front
|Notable aliases||Lord Imperial, Black Rook, Black King, 'Berto|
Solar absorption and rechanneling
Heat and light projection
Sunspot (Roberto "Bobby" da Costa) is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character is most commonly associated with X-Men-related groups the New Mutants and X-Force.
A Brazilian mutant, Sunspot possesses the ability to absorb and channel solar power. He is idealistic and impulsive, but is considered a close friend of many of his teammates. He was an important member of the X-Men’s 1980s-era junior team and its reincarnation X-Force.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Powers and abilities
- 4 Other versions
- 5 Languages
- 6 In other media
- 7 References
- 8 External links
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He is a member of the Avengers in the 2012 relaunch of the Avengers title.
Fictional character biography
Sunspot is Roberto da Costa, a Brazilian male, born and raised in Rio de Janeiro. He is the son of wealthy Afro-Brazilian businessman Emmanuel da Costa and a White Brazilian archaeologist Nina da Costa. In New Mutants #7, his father is described as a very driven man, who "grew up [...] a barefoot houseboy", "by age 20 [...] a millionaire [and] by 30, an economic and political force to be reckoned with." The relationship between Roberto and his father resembles more closely one of best friends than father and son. Nonetheless, Emmanuel constantly pushes his son to reach for both his physical and intellectual limits. Thanks to his father's encouragement, Roberto rose to the position of star soccer player at school and was considered by recruiters for the Olympic Games.
Shortly before his fourteenth birthday (as best can be determined; there are conflicting references) Roberto was playing a soccer game with his team (the Thunderbolts) against their arch-rivals, the Dynamos. Racist members of the Dynamos assaulted Roberto during the game, and in response Roberto took matters into his own hands, initiating a fight on the field. While taking a brutal beating, his mutant powers manifested, suddenly transforming him into a creature of solid black solar energy. Surprised and terrified, people abandoned the stadium, and only his girlfriend, Juliana Sandoval, refused to abandon him.
Within a matter of days, a mutant-hating faction led by Donald Pierce and employing Hellfire Club mercenaries kidnap Juliana, luring Roberto into a trap. He engages the kidnappers, but is eventually defeated when his power reserve runs out. Other mutants named Karma and Psyche rescue him. In the course of the following battle, Juliana sacrifices her life for Roberto, jumping in front of a bullet meant for him.
After the rescue, Roberto joins Karma and Psyche in pursuit of Donald Pierce. The three are joined by Wolfsbane, and after the battle by Sam Guthrie, a.k.a. Cannonball, one of Pierce's misguided mutant hirelings, despite initial reservations by the others. Professor X offers to train the five teenagers in controlling their nascent mutant powers, which they accept and thus become the founding members of the group known as the New Mutants, a group of junior X-Men. Although Xavier's intentions are for them to only be students, over the course of the New Mutants ongoing series, they grow into superheroes, and they travel to such locations as space, Asgard, and the Amazon, as well as the past and the future. During his tenure with the New Mutants, he and Sam become best friends.
Sunspot was at one point injected with the drug that helped create Cloak and Dagger, and he briefly became a monster. Sunspot was later reunited with his parents, and then with the New Mutants he visited Nova Roma. He then encountered the White Queen and her Hellions for the first time. He was later abducted and forced to serve as one of the Gladiators. On another adventure with the New Mutants, he visited the land of Asgard. Alongside the New Mutants, he later fought Warlock's father, the Magus. He also battled Cameron Hodge and the Right. Alongside the New Mutants he battled Freedom Force. He also fell in love with the alien Gosamyr.
When the time traveling antihero Cable takes over the New Mutants and turns them into the paramilitary group X-Force, Sunspot parts ways with the team. During this time Sunspot is tutored by Gideon of the Externals, an old business partner of Roberto's father (who has since died). Suspecting Sunspot to be a fellow External, he takes Sunspot under his wing. Gideon ends up experimenting on Sunspot, granting him new powers such as flight and the ability to fire blasts of solar energy. For a time Sunspot becomes lost in a space-time continuum after interfering with the teleportation powers of Locus. During this time, a villain called Reignfire comes onto the scene, showing a remarkable similar appearance to Sunspot.[volume & issue needed]
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The villain Reignfire first takes over the Mutant Liberation Front by force, and in a battle with X-Force, even removes his mask to reveal the face of Sunspot. Cable 'heals' Sunspot of this persona dominating his body, transferring some of his Askani knowledge into Sunspot, allowing Sunspot to speak the Askani language and know of their meditation techniques. All seems well until X-Force finds out that someone resembling Sunspot has attacked and kidnapped their friend Skids. Upon investigation it is discovered that Reignfire is alive and separate from Sunspot and thus not simply an aspect of his mind.[volume & issue needed] Reignfire was a protoplasmic cellular construct that had patterned itself after Roberto when it had received a cell sample from him (a plot element introduced by John Francis Moore which was different from Nicieza's original intentions). Reignfire was essentially made into an evil clone of Sunspot. Reignfire gained a new ability though, and could now forge a telepathic link with his progenitor, thereby explaining the times that Roberto would switch to a more evil persona. Shortly after this story, Reignfire met his demise.[volume & issue needed]
Roberto later joins the rest of X-Force on an extended road trip, separating themselves from Cable. Along the way, they meet several problems, including Roberto's money being tied up in litigation, forcing the team into doing a variety of odd jobs. One included providing protection for a small businessman being hassled by elements of the mob. During this time, Roberto has a short fling with Sam's girlfriend Tabitha Smith, a teammate.
Later during his X-Force career, Roberto is approached by Selene of the Hellfire Club. She offers Roberto his deceased father Emmanuel's seat in the Club's Inner Circle, as the seats are inherited. She promises Roberto that she will resurrect Juliana if he joins and he agrees.[volume & issue needed] Selene keeps her part of the bargain, but only to a certain extent. She does bring back the spirit of Juliana, but inserts it into the body of a comatose girl.[volume & issue needed] Possibly because he felt obliged to fulfill his promise, Roberto decides to stay, becoming Selene's Black Rook.[volume & issue needed] Roberto attempts to contact the resurrected Juliana, but seeing she has no memory of her previous life, he decides to leave her alone.
With no explanation given, Roberto next surfaces in the title X-Treme X-Men as the head of the Los Angeles branch of X-Corporation, along with former New Mutant Magma and former Hellion Empath.[volume & issue needed] Roberto's ties to the Hellfire Club are not however severed, as Sebastian Shaw approaches, having taken over the position of Hellfire Club's Lord Imperial and wanting Roberto as his Black King. Shaw claims that he is trying to turn the Club into a force of good, so Roberto accepts, though he keeps his involvement with Shaw a secret.[volume & issue needed]
Soon after, Shaw is injured in battle by Donald Pierce.[volume & issue needed] His injuries make him incapable of overseeing the Hellfire Club. Roberto takes over as Lord Imperial.[volume & issue needed] At his side is Sage who leaves the X-Men to make sure Roberto is not corrupted by the power he wields.[volume & issue needed] After the events of M-Day, Cyclops calls for the shutting down of all branches of the X-Corporation to better pool the resources of the X-Men.[volume & issue needed] In Endangered Species, Sebastian Shaw seems to be thinking of reclaiming his place and to be quite mad at Sunspot.[volume & issue needed]
Sunspot, who remains Lord Imperial of the Hellfire Club, is revealed by Cyclops to belong to the newest incarnation of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants along with Danielle Moonstar, Cannonball, and Magma. However, while battling members of Cyclops' new team of X-Men alongside Cannonball, there is much confusion after Rockslide makes reference to the two mutants' membership in the Brotherhood. During the course of the battle, Sunspot is seriously wounded by Wolf Cub, who slashes Roberto's face and stomach with his claws. It is eventually revealed that "Cyclops" is in reality Donald Pierce, the former White King of the Hellfire Club, who is posing as the X-Men leader using an image inducer. Pierce's reasons for recruiting these "X-Men" is currently unknown, but it appears that his primary focus is to eliminate the Lord Imperial and utilized the ruse that Sunspot and his allies formed a new Brotherhood in order to convince the former Xavier students to attack their former teachers and allies.
Later on, Sunspot leaves the Hellfire Club and joins the X-Men in San Francisco as noted by Sebastian Shaw who is currently looking for a replacement. Cyclops later asks Sunspot and Danielle Moonstar to help train the Young X-Men and both accepted.
Reforming the New Mutants
After receiving an anonymous tip in Colorado about a young mutant endangering a small town, Dani and Shan are sent to investigate and calm the locals. During their mission, Magik reappears back at the X-Men's base in San Francisco after teleporting off into the future after the events of "X-Infernus". Upon her return she informs Sam and Roberto that Shan and Dani are in trouble and it will result in their deaths. Sam assembles a team consisting of himself, Sunspot, Magma, and Magik to go find them. While searching for them, Sam and Roberto come across a tied up and comatose Shan in the back of a bar, while Magik and Magma are tricked into freeing Legion from a box, who apparently has Shan's personality imprisoned inside of him. Roberto and Sam approach Karma's body but when Roberto gets too close he almost gets pulled into Legion's mind. After they leave the bar, they find they're surrounded by police; Roberto and Sam fly away to the jail to find Dani.
When they arrive, Legion is trying to kill Dani. After Roberto and Sam repel him, Legion comes back and Sunspot fights him. Cannonball soon joins him and they fend him off and regroup. During the fight, Legion takes on Magma, Cannonball, and Roberto, who gets seriously injured when Legion slashes him with a shard of metal.
Sunspot meets with Hellion, Lorelei Travis, Match, Meld, Adam X, and Avalanche. They plan and start a riot together. Sunspot and his companions are later defeated by Emma Frost and her team of Dark X-Men. Sunspot and the others are taken into custody by the Dark X-Men but are rescued by X-Force and Magik.
In the aftermath of Utopia, Roberto is seen along with Magma, Cannonball, Rogue, Danger, and the X-Club looking over Legion, who are all trying to rid him of his other personalities. During the session, he constantly hits on Rogue who pays no attention to him.
After the events of Avengers vs. X-Men, Roberto and Sam are shown retired, no longer wishing to protect those that fear and hate them. The two are then offered membership in the Avengers by Captain America and eagerly accept, realizing that this may be a chance to save the world without suffering from the stigma they did while serving as X-Men. As revealed in a storyline that takes place eight months in the future, Roberto engages in a hostile takeover of the violent company Advanced Idea Mechanics and gets rid of the troublesome upper management. He re-tools this into Avengers Idea Mechanics, hiring various superheroes as a new Avengers team consisting of Hawkeye, Songbird, Squirrel Girl, Hulking, Wiccan, Power Man and White Tiger. S.H.I.E.L.D. sends two operatives, Dum Dum Dugan and Hawkeye. Despite orders to spy on the new A.I.M., both men reveal their mission as they have come to respect Sunspot. His new team has annoyed the 'Maker', the Ultimate universe version of Reed Richards. The Maker's various plan causes trouble for the Avengers that bounces up and down the time stream.
Powers and abilities
Sunspot is a mutant whose cells have the ability to absorb solar energy and convert it for use as physical strength. At will, he is able to take on a superhuman "powered up" form that is entirely nonreflective black, save for his eyes which turn a solid bright white. Though the color black optimizes solar absorption, he absorbs solar power at all times, not only when he is in his "powered up" form. If he has not absorbed sufficient amounts of solar energy in normal form, he will be too weak to "power up". Likewise, when not in direct sunlight, Sunspot can exhaust his superhuman strength by using up the stores of energy within his body.
When in his solar form, Sunspot also has a corona effect, an aura that has been depicted in multiple ways, though two predominant conventions exist for its portrayal: one is that the air close to him manifests black globes of various sizes, reminiscent of Kirby dots, and the other is a unified field glowing a bright yellow or white. Although Sunspot can absorb energy from stars and reflected solar energy from the moon, the amounts that reach him on Earth are too minuscule to add significantly to his power. In other regions, such as Asgard, his power is significantly enhanced, allowing him - with much effort - to lift Volstagg off the ground for a few seconds before suffering backache.
The "solar form" sometimes blackens Sunspot's clothes as well, and sometimes the clothes appear normally colored on top of his blackened skin. Often, Marvel superheroes explain such effects away as sometimes wearing clothing made from unstable molecules that adapts to superpowers.
Originally, Sunspot's superhuman power was limited solely to superhuman strength and enhanced durability, and then only in his solar form. Unlike many superhumanly strong heroes, Sunspot was unique in that his physical resistance to impact only increased somewhat when he employed his superhuman strength, and he was not bulletproof by any means. The phrase, "Careful Bobby, you're strong, not invulnerable!" or variations was seen many times. In addition, Sunspot's powers have radically changed and grown since the character was introduced; he can now withstand the force of a speeding eighteen-wheeler traveling at speeds of 100 mph.
Significantly, Sunspot maintained his original powerset for roughly the first ten years of his existence, remaining a super strong but vulnerable individual throughout the entire New Mutants series. During the mid-1990s in X-Force his powers began to change, under writer Fabian Nicieza. Nicieza had the supervillain Gideon capture Roberto and subject him to experimentation where the limits of Roberto's power absorption were tested by feeding him immense amounts of solar power. Roberto was rescued by X-Force, but the overload had permanently altered his powers in such a way that he was now able to release concussive blasts of solar energy, with a considerable heat and light projection component; this experimentation also made him immune to all types of heat and fire. He can also now absorb other forms of energy, such as heat or light, in a manner similar to photo- or thermokinesis, though they do not power up his abilities. It has been debated that Roberto would have reached these levels of his abilities of his own accord, and that Gideon's experimentation only increased his evolution process.
The fact that the solar blasts were concussive in origin led directly into X-Force #28, where Sunspot thinks of using them as a means of propulsion, and thus fly by blasting in the opposite direction of where he wanted to go – initially leaving a slight trail behind him, but in later years, Roberto would learn to use the propulsion more subtly – to appear to hover in place with no blast wake at all other than his usual "powered up" corona effect.
Sunspot also had the rituals and ideas of the Askani inside his head, due to a telepathic contact with Cable. While being strongly influenced by it for a while, the memories seem to have faded.
Significant non-superhuman abilities include business administration, as he owns and runs a multibillion-dollar international conglomerate. He is an Olympic-class athlete as the result of having been trained in combat by the X-Men and later by Cable. He is an expert in many languages (see below) and has an assortment of other more minor talents such as piloting aircraft. He was trained in swordsmanship by the Gladiators, and is also an excellent soccer player.
Age of Apocalypse
Sunspot was in the X-Ternals with Jubilee, Strong Guy, and Gambit. Like Robin Hood, they take money of Apocalypse and give to the poor. Magneto assigns them to travel to the Shi'ar Galaxy to steal the powerful M'Kraan Crystal.
Days of Future Now
Sunspot, a.k.a. Roberto da Costa, is an angry vigilante mutant of Brazilian descent. He originally came from Harlem in this continuity. He sees the Ultimate X-Men as decadent Uncle Tom figures and has accused them of living in an ivory tower, considering themselves separate from "second-class muties" like himself. He also harbors a deep hatred for Magneto and his followers because of the anti-mutant hysteria that followed the destruction of the Brooklyn Bridge at the hands of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.[volume & issue needed]
Afterward he has joined Emma Frost's Academy of Tomorrow, a school for gifted beings. Initially Roberto is confused as he knows his grades are not impressive. Emma assures him that grades (or even mutant powers) do not always classify a person as 'gifted'.[volume & issue needed] Soon after Roberto is accepted into the school, he is in trouble. Fellow student Lorna Dane is framed and imprisoned for the murder of several dozen people. He is approached by Alex Summers (Havok), her boyfriend, and is convinced to help assist in breaking her out. He works with Northstar and Cannonball. The team relies on Roberto's knowledge of New York City, but because Roberto had rarely been outside of Harlem, this reliance results in the team becoming lost. During this time, the X-Men attack them, and Roberto is subdued and removed from the fight.[volume & issue needed]
Magneto has him killed in Ultimatum along with the rest of the Academy of Tomorrow except for Havok.[volume & issue needed] Sunspot is murdered in an attack on the Academy.[volume & issue needed] In Ultimate Requiem, he is buried on the grounds of the X-Mansion.
In "What if Some of the X-Men Had Stayed In Asgard?", Sunspot is one of the X-Men and New Mutants members who choose to remain in Asgard. When Hela attacks Storm due to Loki's intrigues, Sunspot rushes to aid Storm, only to have his life taken away by the death goddess before he can even land a blow on her.
Sunspot speaks fluent English, fluent Classical Latin (as seen in the Nova Roma story arc in New Mutants #8–12), and fluent Chinese (as seen in X-Force Annual #3, although it is unspecified whether this is the Mandarin or Cantonese variety). Through a mindlink once established with Cable, Sunspot became capable of speaking Askani (a language spoken in Cable's future timeline). As such, Sunspot speaks with proficiency, if not fluency, in at least six languages: Brazilian Portuguese, English, Chinese, Classical Latin, Askani, and Spanish.
One of the most common mistakes writers make with Sunspot is the spelling of his last name. It has been spelled in at least four variations: daCosta, DaCosta, da Costa, and Da Costa. Many writers have used several of these four and have failed to be consistent even within their own writing. The most common Brazilian spelling separates the article and noun into separate words and leaves the article uncapitalized as seen in the name of the real-life former Brazilian president Lula da Silva. Methods of compounding the article and noun into the same word daCosta and DaCosta are not used in Portuguese. A further complication is that in the realm of American comics (until recently), all letters are capitalized.
Place of birth
The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, a guide to Marvel characters published in the mid-eighties, written mostly by Marvel Editor Peter Sanderson, lists Sunspot's place of birth as Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This is consistent with the fact that the da Costa family estate is located in Rio. However, in the late nineties, John Francis Moore during his tenure as writer of X-Force mentioned once that Sunspot was born in São Paulo. Sanderson's case is backed by the implications of in-story facts like the family estate's being in Rio. Emmanuel's roots are in Rio and it is known that Roberto went to school in Rio.
In other media
- Sunspot appears in several episodes ("Growing Pains", "Retreat", "Mainstream", and "Blind Alley") of X-Men: Evolution, voiced by Mike Coleman. In the series, he is a member of a "junior team" of X-Men, roughly equating to the New Mutants. Born in Brazil, he moved to the Institute, together with the other recruits, at Xavier's request. This version of Sunspot is something of a showoff, and sometimes gets into fights with his teammates, especially Berzerker. In this version, Roberto is a seventeen-year-old boy.
- In the film X2, his name appears on a list of names Mystique scrolls through on Stryker's computer while looking for Magneto's file.
- Sunspot was originally meant to appear in X-Men: First Class, but was written out.
- Actor Adan Canto portrays Sunspot in the 2014 film X-Men: Days of Future Past. This incarnation possesses a solar fiery aura, solar-powered flight and strength, and the ability to project solar energy and fire blasts. At the beginning of the film, Sunspot attempts to stall the Sentinels so Kitty and Bishop could change the past, but has his neck snapped by a Sentinel while in his solar form. During the battle, one Sentinel mimics his powers to adapt to Iceman's powers and kill his teammate. Kitty and Bishop however change the past and Sunspot survives. While stalling the Sentinels, so Wolverine could change the timeline, he is overwhelmed by Sentinels after they cut his arm off and impale him in a pitchfork manner. These events are later erased by the altering of the timeline.
- Marvel Graphic Novel #4
- Marvel Team-Up Annual #6
- New Mutants #9–11
- New Mutants #16–17
- New Mutants #29–31
- New Mutants Special Edition #1; Uncanny X-Men Annual #9
- New Mutants #50
- New Mutants #60
- New Mutants #65
- New Mutants vol.1 #99
- New Mutants #98
- X-Force #14–17
- X-Force #28
- X-Force #75–92
- X-Force vol. 1 #94, 97
- X-Force vol. 1 #98–100
- Secret Invasion: X-Men #1
- Young X-Men #1
- Young X-Men #3
- Young X-Men #4
- Young X-Men #6
- New Mutants vol. 3 #1
- New Mutants vol. 3 #2
- New Mutants vol. 3 #3
- New Mutants vol. 3 #4
- Uncanny X-Men #513
- Dark Avengers #7
- Dark Avengers #8
- New Mutants vol. 3 #5
- Avengers vol. 5 #2
- Avengers #35 (Sept. 2014)
- New Avengers #1–3 (2015)
- New Avengers #4–5 (2016)
- New Mutants Special Edition #1 (Dec. 1985)
- Gambit and the X-Ternals #1–4 (1995–96)
- Ultimate Requiem
- What If? vol.2 #12
- Connelly, Brendon (May 24, 2011). "Matthew Vaughn On X-Men: First Class – On The Writing Credits, On The Bond Influence, On The Difficult Shoot And More". BleedingCool.com. Retrieved March 12, 2016.
- Armitage, Hugh (June 28, 2013). "'X-Men: Days of Future Past': Adan Canto confirms Sunspot role". DigitalSpy.com. Retrieved March 12, 2016.