The story of the Juggernaut truly begins aeons ago, with the mystical being known as Cyttorak. As the human race first came to be, Cyttorak was worshipped as a god; however, Cyttorak – along with several other similarly powerful beings – was banished from Earth. For Cyttorak, he watched from a distant realm known as the Crimson Cosmos. In modern comics, Magik has called Cyttorak a Hell Lord, one with absolute control over his realm.
Cyttorak shaped a powerful gem, and successfully cast it to Earth. Whoever touches that gem becomes Cyttorak’s agent on Earth, an unstoppable juggernaut! Meanwhile, another group has existed across the ages; a warrior sect who continue their worship of Cyttorak and his exemplars.
The exemplar stands in Cyttorak’s place on Earth, and does so as a force of relentless destruction. The worst aspects of their humanity are heightened, and if they resist then they are slowly driven mad by Cyttorak’s influence. Still, it seems that almost all exemplars eventually become weary of their role; at that point, when he realises that the exemplar has become unworthy in his eyes, Cyttorak chooses their successor.
That is when the story brings us to the attention of the X-Men. Decades ago, scientists Brian Xavier and Kurt Marko worked together at the Alamagordo nuclear plant; in reality, this plant was the main laboratory complex of Sinister, who was experimenting upon nascent mutants. Both Brian and Kurt’s children possessed X-genes, and Sinister experimented upon them both (see the first Original Sin arc for a full account). Ultimately, though, events spiralled out of control somehow; Brian Xavier died (Xavier believed an atomic blast was involved, but that looks extremely doubtful), and Kurt Marko eventually married his wife Sharon. So it was that Kurt’s son Cain first met Charles Xavier, son of Brian.
To say they didn’t hit it off is an understatement. Charles flourished; Cain did not. Charles was a genius; Cain was not. One fateful day, Cain provoked his father by claiming he’d killed Brian Xavier; chemicals were spilled in a physical tussle, and a fire killed Kurt Marko.
Charles’ X-gene manifested, although he kept it secret; Cain’s appears to have simply been latent. Cain hated Charles with a passion, and their bitter relationship endured even into the military. On a mission in Korea, Cain suffered a moment of doubt and deserted; Charles, acting as a medic, pursued his brother. They found their way to the Temple of Cyttorak, manipulated there by the cosmic being.
In New Excalibur #14 we learned that Cyttorak had planned this very carefully; his goal was to claim Charles Xavier. Instead, he got Cain Marko. Cain soon learned the price of this power; Cyttorak sought his name to be spread, and his power to be feared. Cain was first sent to kill his successor, and then to obliterate the village of this previous Juggernaut.
The years passed, and at first Cain was content with his power; however, for all his being a bully and a thug, Cain’s common humanity began to rebel against Cyttorak’s claim upon him. He joined the X-Men for a time, and then found his way to Excalibur, all the while battling the evil that lay buried within him. His link with Cyttorak became tenuous indeed, and his powers weakened.
Up to the moment Cain became something else entirely. Another moment of weakness, and Cain touched and claimed one of the Hammers of the Serpent, becoming one of the Worthy in the Fear Itself epic.
At first Cyttorak was pleased with the havoc Cain wrought; then, the being realised it shared the glory with another, and withdrew its power. Piotr Rasputin, the X-Man Colossus, became the Juggernaut for a time, until he was finally freed by his sister Magik. Cain, for his part, retains some measure of superhuman strength and resistance to injury – possibly related to his own X-gene rather than Cyttorak, but who can say?
There is tremendous potential for the Juggernaut. First of all, we have the simple fact that Cyttorak no doubt seeks a new exemplar. Given the being intended to claim Charles Xavier, there is no reason this couldn’t be a mutant… And we also have the question of whether or not Cyttorak holds a grudge against Magik for leaving him without an avatar. Plus, in the future glimpsed in Battle of the Atom, we know one of the villains is a ‘Church of Cyttorak’…
And Cain Marko, too, has potential; no doubt Charles Xavier’s death plays upon him in some way. Given Charles was willing to vouch for him in getting him into the ranks of the Thunderbolts, I admit to being surprised Cain was not wanted at the reading of Charles’ will. But time will tell what the future has in store for Cain Marko.