Sunspot (comics)


Sunspot is a fictional character, a comic book superhero published by Marvel Comics. He is an important member of the New Mutants (later X-Force) family of characters, which is a subset of the X-Men family of characters. He was created in 1982 by writer Chris Claremont and penciler Bob McLeod. His first appearance was in Marvel Graphic Novel #4: The New Mutants, and from that publication, he went on to be a starring character in the New Mutants and X-Force comic books.



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 (maiden name unrevealed). Emmanuel was 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". (New Mutants #7) Despite becoming one of the most influential people in the Brazilian economic and political scenery, Emmanuel always had time for Roberto; they were more like best friends than father and son. However, Emmanuel always relentlessly drove Roberto to be well-educated, decisive, strong and ruthless — Emmanuel had every intention of making Roberto into a worthy heir for his business empire.

Roberto went to school (as opposed to being homeschooled) in Rio's Vilár school. During his early teenage, 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 Olympics.

Shortly before his fourteenth birthday (as best can be determined — there are conflicting references) Roberto was in a soccer game between the Thunderbolts and their arch-rivals, the Dynamos. Racist members of the Dynamos assaulted Roberto during the game without the referee's notice, and Roberto took matters into his own hands, initiating a fight on the field. It was at this time that he would for the first time manifest his mutant superhuman powers. Transforming suddenly into a creature of solid black solar energy, he was as surprised and terrified as everyone else. The soccer game was broken up when the audience fled the stadium in panic.

Within a matter of days, a mutant-hating faction led by Donald Pierce and employing Hellfire Club mercenaries kidnapped Roberto's girlfriend Juliana Sandoval. The mercenaries used Sandoval to lure Roberto into a trap, where they planned to kill him simply for being a mutant. Roberto attempted to use his newfound powers to battle these mercenaries, but was ultimately defeated. The mercenaries were about to kill Roberto when the scene was crashed by Karma and Mirage, two women who would become Roberto's fellow founding members in the New Mutants. Karma and Mirage rescued Roberto, but in the course of the battle, Juliana threw herself in front of a bullet to save Roberto. Juliana perished, and Roberto would always in a way blame his mutancy for her death.

After the rescue, Roberto joined Karma and Mirage in going after Donald Pierce. The three were joined by Wolfsbane, and in the course of the battle with Pierce, Pierce's misguided mutant hireling Cannonball also joined the group. Professor X then offered to train the five teenagers in controlling their nascent mutant powers. All five accepted, and became founding members of the New Mutants, a group of junior X-Men whom their teacher only intended to be students, not superheroes.


Prominent Brazilian Superhero

Missing image
Sunspot by Igor Kordey

Sunspot is arguably the most famous and prominent Brazilian superhero in American comic books. His only significant challenger is Fire of DC Comics. Fire, interestingly enough, shares Sunspot's surname, as her full name is Beatriz Bonilla da Costa. Also, she shares with Sunspot a somewhat fiery nature in both superpowers and personality. Whether this is the result of a stereotype will be left up to reader discretion. These two are the only prominent Brazilian superheroes in American comics; Latin characters are common almost to the point of tokenism, but Brazilian ones are underrepresented, considering that Brazil is the largest and most populous nation in Latin America; Brazil is more than four times the area and almost twice the population of Mexico.

DC's Jaguar is one of the few other Brazilian superheroes, but he is extremely obscure to the general public.

It should be noted that technically Sunspot's teammate Magma could be considered Brazilian under some definitions of the term. Magma was born in an isolated 'land where time stood still' that the New Mutants discovered in the Amazon. However, since Magma's native society bore no relationship to or interaction with Brazilian people or culture, she is often not considered Brazilian, even though she was born (quite likely but not conclusively estabilished) on Brazilian soil.

Popular Mistakes


Sunspot is Brazilian. Many writers make the mistake of portraying him as Spanish; this is incorrect. In the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas Spain and Portugal divided the New World among themselves; Brazil was the area that the Portuguese got. Remembering this is very important in writing about Brazil and Brazilians. Some examples of this distinction follow:

  • As opposed to Buenos dias! (Spanish), Roberto should say Bom dia! (Portuguese)
  • Yes is sim, not si
  • A gentleman is senhor, not señor.
  • You thank someone by saying obrigado, not gracias

Chris Claremont portrayed Sunspot's ethnicity accurately. Subsequent writers have often forgotten the important distinction between Brazil and the rest of Latin America. It should also be noted that Brazilian Portuguese is evolving into its own language, separate from European Portuguese; however, at present, this evolution is generally not considered significant enough for the two to be considered separate languages, although Brazilian Portuguese is sometimes treated as a separate language in things like language selection for computer software installation.

Sunspot has spoken Spanish on numerous occasions in the comics. This can be ascribed to writer error. However, as a well-educated jet-setter who has travelled extensively in Latin America, it is quite plausible that Sunspot would be able to speak both Portuguese and Spanish. This becomes even more likely when his other linguistic skills are pointed out: Sunspot speaks fluent Classical Latin (as seen in the Nova Roma story arc in New Mutants #8-12), he speaks fluent English, and he also speaks fluent Chinese (as seen in X-Force Annual #3, although it is unspecified whether this is the Mandarin or Cantonese variety). As such, Sunspot confirmedly speaks with proficiency, if not fluency, in at least four languages: Brazilian Portuguese, English, Chinese, Classical Latin, and (if the presumed errors are accepted as canon) 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 among their own writing. The most common Brazilian spelling separates the article and noun into separate words, and leaves the article uncapitalized (as seen in, for example, the name of the Brazilian president Lula da Silva). Methods of compounding the article and noun into the same word (daCosta, DaCosta) are Spanish in origin, not Portuguese.

Place of Birth

The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, the definitive guide to Marvel characters published in the mid-eighties, 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 wrote that Sunspot was born in São Paulo. The Official Handbook is more authoritative, however, and it is also backed by the implications of in-story facts like the family estate's location. Rio is the more likely place of birth for Sunspot, although a case could be argued for São Paulo — such an argument, however, would have to assert only a temporary residence in São Paulo, as it is known that Emmanuel's roots are in Rio, and it is known that Roberto went to school in Solar (Banda desenhada)


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