Even though the Juggernaut started out a classic X-Men foe, he has since established himself as one of the strongest villains in the entire Marvel Universe. Since his debut in Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Alex Toth’s X-Men #11, he has more than held his own against powerhouse superheroes such as Thor and the Hulk.
The Juggernaut’s battles with the Hulk are often devastating rumbles that leave a massive trail of destruction in their wake. However, a few clashes between the two titans have ended on less dynamic notes that didn’t involve epic carnage and city-wide destruction. In 1993, one of those battles occurred in Peter David and Gary Frank’s Incredible Hulk #404.
Upon venturing to South America in the preceding issues, the Hulk is ambushed and attacked by a large man in plain clothes that he fails to recognize as an unmasked Cain Marko, the secret identity of the Juggernaut. Marko gets the better of his opponent using sneaky tactics and almost succeeds in drowning the Hulk and finishing him off for good before he is interrupted by his employer, the Red Skull, who proceeds to take the Hulk prisoner.
When the Green Goliath regains consciousness, he discovers that he is held captive by a machine of Red Skull’s design. The Skull calls in another of the villains in his employ, Mentallo, and reveals his plan to take control of the Hulk’s mind. However, the Hulk laughs at the idea reminding the Skull that Mentallo is nowhere near powerful enough to take control of his mind. Undaunted, the Skull explains that his machine boosts Mentallo’s powers, and he foresees no issues in accomplishing his goal.
Mentallo attempts to overwhelm the Hulk’s mind by force, but the Hulk is able to fight everything thrown at him. The Skull “encourages” Mentallo to dig deeper and the villain discovers the one person the Hulk fears buried deep within his psyche is Bruce Banner’s abusive father. Mentallo uses that knowledge to make Hulk see Juggernaut as his father and is able to successfully control the Jade Giant enough for him to side with Juggernaut in battling an Avengers squad that included the Black Knight, Vision, and Hercules.
For the majority of Incredible Hulk #404, Mentallo and Red Skull’s control of the Hulk holds out, and he and Juggernaut knock around Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. However, Juggernaut makes the mistake of complimenting Hulk one time too many during the course of the battle, which is something that Hulk’s real father would ever do. Hulk then realizes that all is not as it seems and angrily turns on his “father.”
Hulk delivers a smashing blow to Juggernaut’s face that knocks off the helmet that protects him from psychic attacks. He follows up with a blow to the stomach that puts Marko on his knees. Realizing that his captive is breaking free of his control, Red Skull demands the psychic power to be increased, but it is too late. The Incredible Hulk has seen through the deception and refuses to be controlled any longer.
The Hulk angrily rejects the mind control and demands that the controlling force get out of his head. This results in a psychic backlash that not only knocks the Juggernaut back, but also knocks down almost all of the Avengers. Once he regains consciousness, the Black Knight observes that the psychic attack that the Hulk unleashed was stronger than his physical attacks and jokes that Juggernaut wouldn’t even be able to tie his shoes for a while.
While the Hulk typically uses the massive strength of his body to win his battles, this issue gave the Hulk a rare victory with his mind. Even though the Hulk notched a decisive win over the Juggernaut, it still didn’t make up for the beating Marko handed the Hulk a few issues earlier.
This battle between the two powerhouses may have ended with more of a whimper than a bang, but the Hulk and Juggernaut are set to have their next rematch in Juggernaut’s upcoming miniseries, which is already shaping up to be a brawl for the ages.
The Hulk and Juggernaut have had some of the biggest brawls in the Marvel Universe, but the Hulk ended their shortest fight with his brain.