With the death of Charles Xavier still dominating mutant minds back on Earth, things are pretty dour on Krakoa. Fortunately our boy Roberto da Costa, a.k.a. Sunspot, and the rest of the New Mutants are staying positive in the face of their own personal setbacks: space prison. On a mission to bring his best friend back to Earth, not even the threat of being labeled a galactic felon and locked away for the rest of his life is enough to break Bobby’s cocky spirit.
Sunspot clearly loves his teammates and wants them to be happy, but his actions and inner thoughts also make it obvious that he’s a narcissist who enjoys being the center of attention. More interested in his own status than anything else, he relishes the adoration of others. The very second line of the book — a section of meta, inner-narration courtesy of Sunspot — has him non-sarcastically say “people love me,” a sign of just how sure of himself the vain (yet lovable) hero is.
At the end of the introductory scene where Bobby explains what’s going on to the audience, the last panel before the credits page is a group shot of all the New Mutants looking angry or defeated in the courtroom. Right there, as the stakes are at their highest and Sunspot’s thoughts are seemingly with his teammates as he claims they will all escape if necessary, his mind wanders back to self-absorbed thoughts.
After riffing on Al Pacino’s famous line about disorder in the courtroom from And Justice For All, the superhero stops and reflects on the most important thing in the room: his chin. For a moment, the gravity of the situation doesn’t matter- the only thing the egomaniac can think about is how handsome he is.
The issue’s opening scene feels like a classic “you may be wondering how I got here” moment, as Sunspot internally reminisces on all the strange steps he and the gang took to land in space court. Jonathan Hickman has already established himself as a master voice-giver to many of these X-Men characters, but his take on Bobby is particularly satisfying. An arrogant S.O.B. with a carefree attitude due to his immaculate wealth, he doesn’t even realize how his demeanor could be seen as negative since he thinks so highly of himself. And like so many people who think they’re god’s gift to mutantkind, Sunspot is too pompous to even realize when he may have done something stupid — like sign a whole bunch of legal paperwork related to X-Corp without even reading it.
The entire reason the New Mutants are even in space is to find their old teammate Cannonball, a.k.a. Sam Guthrie, now married and living in Shi’ar controlled space, and update him about all of the revolutionary mutant activities back on Earth. Strip away the cosmic setting and the extraneous circumstances around Shi’ar politics that are set to become a major force in this series moving forward, and this issue functions best as a simple reunion among friends. Even this joyous occasion works as an extension of Bobby’s narcissistic tendencies though, as his initial reaction to seeing Sam betrays his true thoughts.
It’s been a few months since they last saw each other, and Bobby points out that he expected Sam “to be a mess,” unhappy without his best friend and waiting to be rescued. Even though Sunspot is well aware that Sam has new responsibilities and a wife in space, part of him thought that his old friend had to be slightly miserable, or at least letting himself go physically, without his opulent presence. His self-centered view of the situation certainly puts a damper on the reunion, but as far as he’s concerned something is truly wrong because he wasn’t needed.
It’s only after being reprimanded for his “pampered” attitude — courtesy of a swift punch from Sam’s wife Superguardian, an officer in the Shi’ar military — that Bobby is able to recollect himself and display any joy from seeing his friend.
As the group proceeds with their day upon being released from court, wasting time with a game as they float through space, Sam and Bobby are shown lounging on a couch, catching up on all the new drama and gossip. Conversation turns to their old friend Doug, a carefree, hopeful individual who has all of a sudden found himself at the adult’s table as the representative for mutant’s new sentient nation. While Sam is proud of his friend, he is coyly able to get Bobby to admit he thinks it’s a mistake he wasn’t asked to sit on the Quiet Council as well. This is another moment where Sunspot’s image of himself comes clearly into view: Even while celebrating the accomplishments of others, Bobby still thinks of himself and where he hypothetically sees himself in five years.
Either because of or in spite of Bobby’s attitude, New Mutants #2 is one of the strongest single issues to come out of the entire Hickman era. Not only do he and penciler/inker/colorist/all around badass Rod Reis complement one another in every way as a creative team, each member of the packed ensemble gets a moment to shine.
There are no action sequences in this issue, but the fun set pieces — from a courtroom with Murd Blurdock, “the worst space lawyer money could buy,” to a quasi-poker game in a spaceship — help the team function as a unit and allow the character’s distinct personalities to come through in authentic ways. As the team gets conscripted into a larger Shi’ar conflict they have nothing to do with, it’s important that the series has low-key, quiet moments like this that allow the series to breathe before everyone is sucked into a massive war and the series’ inertia makes it too difficult to slow down.
With three X-books dropping this week, there’s a whole lot of mutant mayhem to catch up on. If you want a quick update on how things are going on Krakoa, check out this week’s Marvel Rundown for blurbs on X-Force and Fallen Angels. Until then, don’t eat too much pie and check back here next week for another fresh dose of HiX-Men goodness!