Published April 7, 2023

A History of Cyttorak and Those Who Wield His Destructive Power

What is Cyttorak? Meet this dark god and several of his hosts, including Juggernaut and Cain Marko, as they tear up the past, present, and future of the Marvel Universe.

Doctor Strange and the Juggernaut might not have much in common, but both the Sorcerer Supreme and this X-Men powerhouse draw strength from the dark god Cyttorak. From his home in the Crimson Cosmos, the all-powerful dark deity has used his power to transform heroes and villains alike into unstoppable juggernauts who unleash destruction in his name. 

Now, we’re taking a closer look at Cyttorak and how his power has fueled some of the strongest heroes and villains in the Marvel Universe. With another X-Men icon taking on Cyttorak’s power in SINS OF SINISTER, we’ll also look at how the ancient god’s power threatens the far future in IMMORAL X-MEN (2023) #3 by Kieron Gillen, Alessandro Vitti, Rain Beredo, and VC's Clayton Cowles.


Cyttorak existed as a disembodied presence throughout the Marvel Universe long before he physically appeared. For example, Doctor Strange invoked Cyttorak when he used the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak for the first time in STRANGE TALES (1951) #124 by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Although he called upon Cyttorak to help him free a possessed woman in that story, Strange usually uses that trick to ensnare his foes in near-unbreakable ribbons of energy. 

Cyttorak was invoked again when Cain Marko claimed the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #12 by Lee, Jack Kirby, and Alex Toth. The Gem transformed Marko, the stepbrother of Charles Xavier, into the Juggernaut and granted him limitless strength as Cyttorak’s earthly avatar. 

Later, Cyttorak made his physical debut in DOCTOR STRANGE, SORCERER SUPREME (1988) #44 by Roy Thomas and Geof Isherwood. In this story, Strange summoned Juggernaut to help him reason with the dark god during INFINITY WAR (1992)

In the distant past, Cyttorak was worshiped as a deity and a demon on Earth. He was eventually banished to the Crimson Cosmos, a timeless dimension where he is all-powerful and served by the Cyttora. During a contest between several ancient mystical entities called the Wager of the Octessence, Cyttorak created the Crimson Gem to empower whoever found it with a portion of his strength. Although Juggernaut and the Avengers eventually stopped the contest, Cyttorak’s avatar would have battled the avatars of the other gods to prove which deity was the strongest in a world-destroying battle. 

Two ancient sorcerers also trapped the darkest and most destructive aspects of Cyttorak within the Crimson Gem, as revealed in X-MEN UNLIMITED (1993) #12 by John Francis Moore, Steve Epting, and Ariel Olivetti.


The Juggernaut is Cyttorak’s chief agent on Earth, where he stands as a physical symbol of the god’s power. Although he was not the first to wield the Crimson Gem’s power, Cain Marko has been Cyttorak’s most enduring avatar, having taken on the Juggernaut’s mantle multiple times. After Marko discovered Cyttorak’s ruby inside a temple, Cyttorak’s power transformed him into a “human juggernaut” as the god’s temple collapsed around him. Still feeling resentment towards Xavier over their fraught family history, Cain used Cyttorak’s power to dig out of the temple’s ruins and targeted his stepbrother with his newfound powers. 

In addition to offering limitless strength, Cyttorak’s power makes the Juggernaut immortal and invulnerable, in part by shielding him in mystic armor. Additionally, when the Juggernaut first encountered the X-Men, his helmet protected him from Xavier’s telepathic powers. However, Cain was ultimately defeated when the X-Men got his helmet off with help from the Human Torch in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #13 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Werner Roth. Frequently working with his friend and criminal partner Black Tom Cassidy, the Juggernaut has fought heroes like the X-Men, Spider-Man, Thor, and Deadpool on numerous occasions.

Marko eventually reconciled with Xavier and occasionally joined heroic teams like the X-Men, Excalibur, and the Thunderbolts. However, Cyttorak admonished Marko for using the Juggernaut’s power for selfless reasons instead of its intended destructive purposes in WORLD WAR HULK: X-MEN (2007) #3 by Christos Gage and Andrea Di Vito.


When Marko lost Cyttorak’s favor, Colossus temporarily took on the Juggernaut’s power and his role as Cyttorak’s avatar. After touching an enchanted hammer, Marko became the host of Kuurth, the Breaker of Stone and a servant of the Asgardian Serpent, in FEAR ITSELF (2010) #2 by Matt Fraction and Stuart Immonen. When Colossus and his sister Magik brought this to Cyttorak’s attention, Cyttorak took away Marko’s Juggernaut powers and gave them to Piotr Rasputin in UNCANNY X-MEN (1963) #542 by Kieron Gillen and Greg Land

Despite his gentle nature, Colossus reveled in the Juggernaut's power and struggled to mitigate Cyttorak’s corrupting demonic influence. When the X-Men separated into two rival factions shortly after this, Colossus stayed with Cyclops’ militaristic “Extinction Team,” because he did not want his power to endanger the students at Wolverine’s Jean Grey School for Higher Learning.

During his time as the Juggernaut, Colossus bonded with a portion of the Phoenix Force, along with several other X-Men. Hoping to rid himself of Cyttorak’s influence, Colossus approached the dark god and revealed that he had become an avatar of the Phoenix in UNCANNY X-MEN (2011) #15 by Gillen and Daniel Acuña. Unexpectedly, Cyttorak told Colossus that he had no issue with him dual-wielding the powers of the Juggernaut and the Phoenix, due to the amount of destruction he caused as a hero. After Cyttorak called Colossus his favorite avatar, the X-Man attacked Cyttorak with his Phoenix power, only to be waved aside and sent back to Earth. Colossus and Magik ultimately knocked the Phoenix Force out of each other after Spider-Man baited them into fighting each other. 

The long-simmering tensions between Colossus and Magik came to a head when Illyana revealed she allowed Cyttorak to empower Colossus to help him understand how it felt to be cursed, which drove a lasting wedge into their relationship. She ultimately transported Colossus to Limbo and severed his connection to Cyttorak in UNCANNY X-MEN (2011) #20 by Gillen and Carlos Pacheco.


After the Living Monolith briefly wielded the Juggernaut’s power, Cyttorak made Cain Marko the Juggernaut again in AMAZING X-MEN (2013) #15 by Christopher Yost and Jorge Fornes. Later, in X-MEN BLACK: JUGGERNAUT (2018) by Robbie Thompson and Shawn Crystal, the Juggernaut attacked the X-Men in a misguided attempt to avenge Xavier’s death, and Cyttorak helped Marko unlock the full extent of his Juggernaut powers. Shortly after that, Marko lost his Juggernaut powers in a battle with Magik when she crushed the Crimson Gem during UNCANNY X-MEN (2018) #21 by Matthew Rosenberg and Salvador Larroca

After a Cyttorak disciple forged the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak into a physical object, Marko found them and bonded with them in JUGGERNAUT (2021) #3 by Fabian Nicieza and Ron Garney. With his power now coming from the bands instead of Cyttorak, Marko confronted the dark god and vowed never to work for him again. Since the Crimson Gem had been crushed, Juggernaut absorbed its remains and told Cyttorak he was completely cut off from Earth. Since then, the Juggernaut has found a tentative home on Krakoa, where he serves as one of Nightcrawler’s Legionnaires.


In the far future of SINS OF SINISTER, Cyttorak's power has found a new host in the corrupted Emma Frost, who wields the god’s power as her own. In the SINS OF SINISTER timeline, Emma Frost, Professor X, Hope Summers, and Exodus were all corrupted by Mister Sinister. After Sinister attacked and killed Krakoa’s mutant leaders, they were resurrected with a hefty dose of Sinister’s personality inserted in them. By manipulating the Sinister Quiet Council and replacing almost all mutants with his loyal agents, Sinister conquered the world. He even manipulated the Juggernaut into serving as the unstoppable bullet that killed Thanos. While Sinister eventually refocused his efforts on resetting the timeline, the Sinister Quiet Council built a cosmic empire.

Over the course of a millennium, the Sinister-corrupted mutant leaders started feuding, and each carved out their own sector of space. Now called the Empress of the Red Diamond, Emma Frost ruled over her empire as the Living Gem of Cyttorak. Seemingly enchanted by her old ally and hell-lord Sebastian Shaw, Frost’s diamond form contains Cyttorak’s power, as distinguished by her ageless, ruby-red appearance. 

In addition to commanding corrupted versions of Beast and the Cuckoos, Emma rules over the Namornauts, loyal soldiers who gain the Juggernaut’s unstoppable power by kissing her hand. Just as it did in the distant past and the modern age of the Marvel Universe, the power of Cyttorak fuels one of the most dangerous forces in SINS OF SINISTER’s dark future during IMMORAL X-MEN (2023) #3 by Kieron Gillen, Alessandro Vitti, Rain Beredo, and VC's Clayton Cowles.

Behold Emma Frost as the Living Gem of Cyttorak in IMMORAL X-MEN #3, on sale now!

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