Real Name: Roberto da Costa
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Sunspot is a mutant whose cells have the ability to absorb solar energy and convert it to various purposes. At will, he is able to take on a superhuman "powered up" form that is entirely non-reflective 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 -- indeed, if he has not absorbed sufficient amounts of solar energy in normal form, he will be too weak to "power up". 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 in close proximity 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.
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 super-powers. However, there are many incidents in which Roberto would not have been able to prepare with unstable molecular clothing; these can be regarded as artist errors or that Roberto has the skill necessary to blacken his clothes as well if he so chooses.
Originally, Sunspot's superhuman power was limited solely to superhuman strength, and then only in his solar form. Unlike many super-humanly strong heroes, Sunspot was unique in that he had no superhuman resistance to injury, and was not bulletproof by any means. The phrase, "Careful Bobby, you're strong, not invulnerable!" in its many variations became as much a Claremont catchphrase as Wolverine's "I'm the best there is at what I do!" In addition, Sunspot's powers have radically changed and grown since the character was introduced, and whilst his power augmentations have concentrated on areas other than his strength, it is feasible that his strength has increased still further.
Significantly, Sunspot maintained his original power set 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 super-villain 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 projection component.
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 is Roberto da Costa, a Brazilian male, born and raised in Rio de Janeiro. He is the son of wealthy businessman Emmanuel da Costa and archaeologist Nina da Costa. In New Mutants #7, his father is described as a very driven man, who "grew up [...] a barefoot houseboy", and "by age 20 [...] was a millionaire. By 30, an economic and political force to be reckoned with." The relationship between Roberto and his father resembles more that of best friends than father and son. Nonetheless, Emmanuel constantly pushes his son to reach for both his physical as well as intellectual limits. Thanks to his father's encouragement, Roberto rises to the position of star soccer player at school, and is considered by recruits for the Olympic Games
Roberto went to school (as opposed to being home-schooled) in Rio's Vilár school. During his early teenage years, he became the star soccer player in his school's team, the Thunderbolts. Olympic recruiters took notice of him at that age, and began grooming him for eventual inclusion in Brazil's national soccer team for the Olympic Games.
Shortly before his fourteenth birthday (as best can be determined; there are conflicting references) Roberto is playing a soccer game against his team (the Thunderbolts) their arch-rivals, the Dynamos. Racist members of the Dynamos assault Roberto during the game, and in response Roberto takes matters into his own hands, initiating a fight on the field. He proceeds to manifest his mutant powers, transforming suddenly into a creature of solid black solar energy. Surprised and terrified, people abandon the stadium, and only his girlfriend, Juliana Sandoval stays behind, refusing 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 them, but is eventually defeated. Other mutants by the name of Karma and Psyche rescue him. In the course of the following battle, Juliana sacrifices her life for Robert, jumping in front of a bullet for him.
After the rescue, Roberto joins Karma and Psyche in going after 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, to which they accept and become the founding members to 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, the Amazon, as well as the past and the future. During his tenure with the New Mutants, he and Sam become best friends.
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 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.
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. Supposedly Reignfire was a 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, who thereby retcons Nicieza's original intentions). Reignfire was essentially made into an evil version 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. This explanation left many fans unhappy given the previous history of both characters. Shortly after this story, Reignfire met his demise.
Roberto later joins in the rest of X-Force in an extended road trip, separating themselves from Cable. Along the way, they meet several problems, including Roberto's money being tied up in legislation, forcing the team into doing a variety of odd jobs. During this time, Roberto has a short fling with Sam's girlfriend Tabitha Smith, a fellow teammate.
Later during his X-Force career, Roberto is approached by members of the Hellfire Club. They tell him that since his father Emmanuel had a seat in the Club so does he, as the seats are inherited genetically. Selene promises Roberto that she will resurrect Juliana if he joins and he agrees. 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. Possibly because he felt obliged to fulfill his promise, Roberto decides to stay, becoming Selene's Black Rook.
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. 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.
Soon after, Shaw is injured in battle by Donald Pierce. His injuries make him incapable of overseeing the Hellfire Club. Roberto takes over as Lord Imperial. At his side is Sage who leaves the X-Men to make sure Roberto is not corrupted by the power he wields. 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.
Sunspot remains as one of the 198 still empowered mutants and as Lord Imperial. In Endangered Species, Sebastian Shaw seems to be thinking of reclaiming his place and to be quite mad at Sunspot.
Significant non-superhuman abilities include business administration as he owns and runs a multi-billion dollar international conglomerate, Olympic class athlete and having been trained in combat by the X-Men, languages (see below) and an assortment of other more minor talents from piloting to leadership to incredible amounts of Magnum, P.I. trivia.
First Appearance: Marvel Graphic Novel (1982) #4
Sunspot (Marvel)(Age of Apocalypse)
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#31 Xavier Institute Alumni Yearbook (1996)
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Avengers (Marvel)(01 - Original Team)
Hellfire Club (Marvel)
New Mutants (Marvel)
X-Force (Marvel)(02 - former New Mutants)
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