Cain Marko began life as Charles Xavier’s step-brother. Xavier and Marko’s parents worked at a nuclear test site in New Mexico and the two young men never got along. Over time, Kurt Marko favors Charles Xavier and starts to abuse his son. The general disdain between the brothers grows as time goes on. Eventually, the two men join the Army and head off to Southeast Asia. While exploring some jungle terrain, Cain finds a cave that contains the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak. Cain takes the Gem and becomes the Juggernaut, causing a cave-in. Charles Xavier assumes that his step-brother is dead and moves on with the rest of his life.
Cain would make his debut as The Juggernaut during an all-out assault on the X-Mansion. The first class of X-Men were powerless to stop him, as the team had been together for barely a year. Professor X would eventually have to call The Human Torch for an assist, since this was a time before Chuck telepathically lobotomized threats. This leads to the X-Men popping off Juggernaut’s helmet and Professor X shutting him down. This would become Juggy’s achilles heel for ages, as the helmet was the only thing blocking psionic attacks. Juggernaut’s second appearance pushed the X-Men into having Doctor Strange teleporting him to the home dimension of Cyttorak.
The Juggernaut has been around for ages, but his scuffles tend to stick to a few people. Hell, he didn’t really break outside of Spider-Woman, The X-Men, Hulk and Doctor Strange until the late 80s during Acts of Vengeance. Well, that would be overlooking his classic Spider-Man storyline that proved that Roger Stern is one of only three people that should be allowed to write the character. But, let’s stop for a moment. We just jumped from the late 60s to the 80s in one swoop. In the time between, Juggernaut met his best friend in Ireland. Banshee’s older cousin was naturally a villain because he was named Black Tom. The only people named Black Tom that don’t become villains are the poor guys that get unfortunate monikers because there are more than two Toms at work.
Black Tom Cassidy would spend most of the next few years pushing Juggernaut around in their partnership. He’d get Juggy to fight Spider-Woman, the X-Men, Thor and X-Force. That last scuffle with X-Force ended up with Black Tom getting jacked up by late Liefeld era Cable. The Juggernaut would go rogue for a bit, while Black Tom became a vegetable man that stalked Generation X. Most of the 1990s were spent with Juggernaut getting tied up with the whole Onslaught Saga and then he got dumped into the Ultraverse. For the young ones out there, the Ultraverse was the Malibu Comics Universe featuring characters like Prime and Night Man. You never heard of these characters because Marvel buried all of that crap in an unmarked grave about a year after buying the company. It didn’t stop them from cashing in on the one Malibu Comics property that became a hit. Tangents like this are how I end up talking about “Men in Black” in a Juggernaut breakdown.
The Crimson Gem of Cyttorak started getting an in-depth history around the end of the 1990s and early 00s. Sure, a few issues had explored it before, but never to the world building degree that Lobdell and Busiek dug up. During this time, the history of Cyttorak was explored more as it was revealed that Cyttorak had made the Juggernaut into his Avatar on Earth. There were other mystical gems scattered around the globe and now Cyttorak’s people were taking over their Avatars. The Juggernaut fought it long enough to help Captain America and the Avengers stop the attack. The Cyttorak Avatar angle would keep getting developed, as Juggernaut encountered different energy sources that Cyttorak took as an affront to its powers.
Cain Marko would gain the power of Captain Universe and find one of the hammers during “Fear Itself”. After the X-Men learned that Cyttorak would take new Avatars if the original host became tainted, Colossus took the gem from Cain and became the new Juggernaut. Cain would stumble across a few attempts to regain his power after that, but nothing ever stuck. Eventually, Magik used the Soulsword to purge Cyttorak away from Colossus. Cyttorak would eventually attempt to seek out former hosts in a bid to get a new Juggernaut. This led Cain Marko to kidnap the Vanisher and go searching for Cyttorak.
Cain Marko did try to use The Juggernaut for good, after making friends with a young mutant named Sammy. Unfortunately, a surprise attack by Black Tom Cassidy resulted in the young boy’s death. Juggernaut returned to wrecking havoc and began his path back to being a villain. There were pit stops along the way in books like New Excalibur and Thunderbolts. There was a time where it seemed that Cain was going to be redeemed. But, events during World War Hulk showed Cain that he was going to be forever dependent on the powers of Gem of Cyttorak. Cyttorak had conditions for granting his powers, such as making sure the host was full of hate and no emotional connections to the mortal world. Turning on Charles for one last time, Cain gave up the last bits of human decency to become the unstoppable Juggernaut.
But, such has been the case with the Juggernaut since its creation. A behemoth of pure hatred and anger that can’t be stopped due to the emotional baggage of its host. Watching Cain Marko struggle over the years for acceptance and a desire to have some real power has created a rich tapestry. It’s only in recent years that we’ve gotten to see the toil that it has taken on Marko. The guy has shown since the 1970s that he wants friends, but the pressures of Cyttorak demand a certain allegiance. In a way, the character has become an energy vampire of sorts. This is where Marvel has excelled with the X-Universe and I would love to see a return to these character dynamics. Yeah, I know…The Juggernaut isn’t a mutant. But, the sentiment remains.