Juggernaut has crushed many bones over the years, but none as harshly as the heart of the young mutant Squid Boy who viewed Cain as a mentor.
To most readers, Juggernaut is more likely to strike someone in the face than in their feelings. However, the opposite was the case during his oft-forgotten redemption arc with the X-Men. One of the X-Mansion’s most formidable villains suddenly became among its most trustworthy allies in Chuck Austen and Philip Tan’s Uncanny X-Men #425. His redemption arc came at a time when upon being discarded by his deity, Cyttorak (who also took a portion of Juggernaut’s powers), Cain Marko felt more vulnerable and directionless than he ever had before. So, naturally, he sought guidance from his younger brother, Professor Charles Xavier, who welcomed Juggernaut with open arms.
Those at the Xavier Institute warmed up to Juggernaut quite nicely, particularly 10-year old Samuel Paré, a.k.a. Squid-Boy. The two quickly became best friends, with Cain going as far as to be something of a protective father figure to the boy while the latter did his part in calming the giant’s more volatile attributes that readers typically associate with his more villainous days. Things took a turn when the X-Men sent Juggernaut to infiltrate a revamped version of The Brotherhood of Mutants, led by Cain’s former friend Black Tom Cassidy. He re-joined the Brotherhood, but as an undercover spy working on behalf of the X-Men.
Unfortunately, Squid-Boy hadn’t got the memo, so when he discovered that Juggernaut had seemingly gone rogue from the X-Men, he was heartbroken. So heartbroken that the boy not only verbally berated his best friend but picked a fight with the Brotherhood in Austen and Salvador Larroca’s X-Men #162. Unsurprisingly, Black Tom Cassidy killed Squid-Boy with ease. Afterward, Juggernaut angrily fought Cassidy to avenge his new best friend, but the damage had been done. Squid-Boy died hating Juggernaut. To not only Squid-Boy but also Juggernaut, this emotional blow hit harder than any physical punch he ever threw at anyone.
Squid-Boy was more than a friend to Juggernaut, he was something of a symbol to the ex-villain, the saving grace in his redemption arc. Proof that Juggernaut was not only capable of being better, but also capable of bettering the lives of those around him. Once Squid-Boy was gone, it didn’t take long before Cain Marko fell back into old habits.
Not long after, when he felt at his weakest (emotionally and physically), Juggernaut returned Cyttorak to restore his full power and eventually exited the X-Mansion for good, warning his brother not to follow him. He was never quite the same after that, only amping up his violence and volatility in recent years, even in his more heroic moments, and it’s not hard to see why. Juggernaut tried his hardest to be a better person and instead, it got someone who he cared about killed. Squid-Boy died thinking that Juggernaut was a monster, and Juggernaut is going to carry that monstrous feeling until he dies.
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