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Supervillain Origins: Juggernaut (Redux)

Credits: Ashley Bowman Justin Giglio
Written by Thomas O'Connor The X-Men’s rogues gallery is populated with characters who speak to the strengths of the franchise, characters who play into the ideas and questions the team is built around: rejection vs acceptance, co-existence vs domination, and fighting to defend a world that views you as an enemy. But sometimes those aren’t the characters you need, sometimes you just need a bad guy who’s just really, really good at breaking things. On those occasions, you bring in The Juggernaut. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today breaking down the comic book origins of Cain Marko, AKA The Juggernaut, an iconic X-Men foe who made his first appearance in 1965’s Uncanny X-Men #12.
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The X-Men’s rogues gallery is populated with characters who speak to the strengths of the franchise, characters who play into the ideas and questions the team is built around: rejection vs acceptance, co-existence vs domination, and fighting to defend a world that views you as an enemy. But sometimes those aren’t the characters you need, sometimes you just need a bad guy who’s just really, really good at breaking things. On those occasions, you bring in The Juggernaut.

Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today breaking down the comic book origins of Cain Marko, AKA The Juggernaut, an iconic X-Men foe who made his first appearance in 1965’s Uncanny X-Men #12.

You’d think that, like many of the X-Men’s foes, The Juggernaut’s powers come from genetic mutation, but you’d be wrong. Rather than a mutant, this titanic foe is actually magically empowered, drawing his powers from a demonic entity known as Cyttorak. But before he was the unstoppable Juggernaut, he was something almost as scary: an abrasive family member.

Born Cain Marko, the future Juggernaut had a rocky childhood, to put it mildly. The son of atomic researcher Doctor Kurt Marko, young Cain lost his mother at age three. Add in an abusive father and it’s no wonder that young Cain was kicked out of one boarding school after another. Eventually, Doctor Marko married Sharon Xavier, the widow of his colleague Doctor Brian Xavier, and brought Cain to live with his new family in their swanky Westchester home. This is where Cain first met a young Charles Xavier, his new stepbrother.

Cain and Charles did not get along, with Cain deeply jealous of the affection his father would show towards Charles. This caused Cain to torment and abuse Charles at any opportunity, even after Sharon passed away. Tragedy would strike again when Brian was killed in a laboratory fired accidentally started by Cain. It was during this incident that Cain also learned of his step-brother’s telepathic gifts, something that drove an even deeper wedge between the two.

Years later, the two found themselves serving together in the Korean War, and during a battle Cain ran off, deserting his fellow soldiers, including his step-brother. Charles chased after Cain, who had stumbled upon a lost temple deep in the Korean jungle. It was here that Cain discovered magical Crimson Gem of Cyttorak, a mystical gem containing the powers of the demonic being Cyttorak.

Cyttorak was one of the Octessence, a group of eight powerful demonic beings who had long ago made a wager to find out which of them was the most powerful. They each created an artifact that would empower a human host with a portion of their powers, allowing the eight avatars to battle for supremacy.

But mere moments after Cain touched the gem, becoming imbued with the power of Cyttorak, the temple collapsed, burying Cain under the rubble while Cain eventually re-appeared, having dug himself out of the rubble thanks to the near-limitless strength and stamina bestowed upon him by the gem.

Thanks to Cyttorak’s power, The Juggernaut is a nearly unstoppable force, one capable of going toe to toe with not just the X-Men, but some of the heaviest hitters in the Marvel Universe. In addition to titanic levels of strength and stamina, he’s also immune to psychic attacks thanks to the helmet granted to him by the gem. When the Juggernaut first appeared and attacked Xavier’s school, the original X-Men were helpless to stop him. The day was only saved thanks to some help from The Human Torch, who was called in by Xavier to melt the rivets on Juggernaut’s helmet, allowing the helm to be removed and thus opening Cain up to a psychic attack.

In the years since his first appearance, Cain has followed the path of many X-Men villains in joining the team as a member. It was during this time that readers got to meet a softer side of Cain when he finally reconciled with Charles.

As if being possessed by one otherworldly being wasn’t enough, Marko was possessed by and became the avatar of Kuurth: Breaker of Stone after he picked up a mysterious hammer that fell from the sky. He was eventually beaten by Wolverine in the ensuing conflict, which left Marko in a state of powerlessness for the first time in a long time.

That is, of course, until Cyttorak and his Crimson Gem reappeared in the ancient temple looking for a new Juggernaut. Marko, now just a peaceful gardener who wants to be left alone, goes to the temple to destroy the Gem once and for all to prevent another Juggernaut from being created, but in the process, has a run in with Colossus and the X-Men. But while the two are tangled up in their little squabble only to discover they’re there for the same reason, the Gem is taken by Ahmet Abdol, the Living Monolith. His time as the Juggernaut was short-lived, however, as Marko strikes a deal with Cyttorak to become the Juggernaut yet again in order to exact revenge on Cyclops for killing his beloved stepbrother, Charles Xavier. But the Unstoppable Juggernaut was stopped by Colossus, who sent him flying off a cliff. But that wouldn’t be the last the X-Men would see of Cain Marko.

Juggernaut, now back to his villainous ways, joined forces with his former partner in crime Black Tom Cassidy to menace the X-Men once again and avenge the death of Professor X.

While he’s since lost the powers of Cyttorak, significantly reducing his abilities, The Juggernaut remains a powerhouse among powerhouses within the Marvel Universe. He’s the unstoppable force and the immovable object rolled into one, and still one of the X-Men’s most iconic villains. But no one says it better than the man himself.
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