Warning: The following article contains spoilers for War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #3, by Matthew Rosenberg, Pere Perez, Rachelle Rosenberg and Travis Lanham, on sale now.
While War of the Realms ends on a fairly high note for most of Marvel's heroes, it only continued the X-Men's recent strain of astronomically bad luck.
After losing a staggering number of their teammates in recent months, Cyclops and the handful of X-Men who aren't trapped in the Age of X-Man timeline formed a safe haven from the mythological invasion in a Queens baseball stadium. Staffed largely by duplicates of Jamie Madrox, the X-Men kept a few hundred civilians safe from assorted Frost Giants, Dark Elves, hell-hounds and other mythological creatures.
With the X-Men's base frequently under siege, Sunspot, the fiery former X-Man and Avengers leader, returned from an extended absence to help his friends and former teammates. However, the team's efforts were hampered by a rock cursed by the Enchantress that kept Magik from using her teleportation powers or her magical abilities.
As the X-Men made their last stand against Malekith's forces, Sunspot grabbed the stone and crushed it with his super-strength in War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #3. Although he was warned about destroying the Enchantress' stone, Roberto da Costa was vaporized in a blast of mystical energy.
Because of Sunspot's sacrifice, Magik was ultimately able to save the day by using her powers to transport Malekith's forces to the hellish Limbo dimension.
While Sunspot's final actions may have been equally noble and ill-advised, most of his superhero career could be described by those same terms. He was introduced in 1982 by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod in 1982 as one of the New Mutants, an X-Men trainee team that included Magik and other young heroes. Although he briefly left the team, Bobby rejoined after the group morphed into the paramilitary unit X-Force.
After stints with the Hellfire Club and the reformed New Mutants, Sunspot joined the Avengers with Cannonball, his best friend and longtime teammate. Using his vast family fortune, Sunspot purchased A.I.M., the long-standing group of super-science villains, and transformed it into a more altruistic organization. After this cemented him as a major member of the superhero community, Sunspot went on to form a short-lived splinter group of Avengers.
Although a shot to the head threatened to overload his powers, Sunspot seemed like his normal self when he returned to the X-Men in War of the Realms: Uncanny X-Men #2.
It wasn't initially clear if Sunspot was dead, but this issue ends with his ghost speaking to his friend Dani Moonstar, one of the last Valkyries tasked with taking the dead to Valhalla.
Sunspot's death may have been tragic, but it didn't come entirely without warning. The events of this miniseries take place shortly before the death of Wolfsbane, Bobby's friend and fellow New Mutant, in Uncanny X-Men #16. At Wolfsbane's funeral in the following issue, Sunspot's name was mentioned among the recently deceased, even though he hadn't appeared for several months.
While Wolfsbane's death sparked controversy, this issue also gives it a slightly different context.
After the barrier between life and the afterlife was broken, Wolfsbane reunites with her late love, the Asgardian wolf god Hrimhari, and their late son Tier. After she attacks Sabretooth, who's leading part of the invading army for the Enchantress, Hrimhari returns to the realm of the dead and tells her that he hopes to meet her in the next life.
Since she's also dead now, Wolfsbane and her family may have finally reunited in the afterlife. While grim, that scenario is more hopeful than it initially seems, given the impermanence of death in the Marvel Universe.
Even though Magik decapitates Sabretooth and teleports his head to parts unknown in this issue, the villain can be seen alive in previews for Powers of X and House of X, the upcoming X-Men relaunch. Although it marks the X-Men's third decapitation in the last few months, Sabretooth's clones, considerable healing factor or potential mystical enhancements could give him a new lease on life.
At the end of this issue, Sunspot's spirit assures Moonstar that they'll meet again soon during their good-bye. That promise is hardly a guarantee of a quick resurrection, but it offers a ray of hope to a team that's been struck by an unusually high number of casualties recently. These may be some of the X-Men's darkest days, but the sun could always shine on the team tomorrow.