WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Doctor Strange #8 by Mark Waid, Andres Guinaldo, Javier Pina, Andy Owens, Carlos Lopez, and Cory Petit, on sale now!
The thing about powerful artifacts designed to imbue those who wield them with godly powers is that more often than not, they don’t really care who gets their hands on them. Of course, random chance is how many superheroes and villains gain their abilities. Peter Parker wasn’t necessarily destined to be bitten by that radioactive spider; he was just at the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time. It only seems serendipitous in hindsight.
But when characters seek a specific object to grant them powers, things tend to play out a little differently. A thirst for powers is often seen as greedy and is commonly attributed to the origin stories (or at the very least, motivations) of villains. The idea of an "artifact of doom" is a common trope across all media. Whether it’s Nazis hunting the Lost Ark for... reasons(?), or a giant, flaming eyeball jonesing for some jewelry in Middle Earth, villains simply love power-granting items.
One of the more infamous artifacts of doom in comic books is the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak, which makes whoever wears it virtually unstoppable. The Gem has long been associated with the X-Men villain Juggernaut, but in Doctor Strange #8, not only do we learn there is more than one of these gems, this one has a new master, one who is well-versed in the mystic arts and potentiality poses an even greater threat. This new gem-wielding "foe" is none other than Strange's former assistant, Casey Kinmont.
Casey obtained a Gem of Cyttorak in Doctor Strange #7 after designing herself as the titular Master of the Mystic Arts. Once her ruse was exposed, Strange tried to stop Casey from wreaking havoc with the legendary gem, but the power his now soulless colleague had somehow amplified the spells she has learned under Strange's tutelage. In an all out magical brawl in the streets, Strange battles wave after wave of Casey's magical attacks, unable to dampen her powers or restrain her. With the gem in her possession, Casey is able to summon mystic weapons and deflect anything Strange can throw at her, essentially making her a new Juggernaut.
While Casey Kinmont might seem like an unlikely candidate for someone to wield such a powerful item (the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak has historically been in the possession of heavy hitters like Colossus, The Living Monolith, and the aforementioned Juggernaut), secondary characters getting their hands on world-destroying artifacts isn't unheard of. The Infinity Gauntlet has been worn by some characters who came out of left field, specifically the low-level villain, The Hood in Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr.'s run on The Avengers nearly a decade ago.
However, what makes this instance feel different is that how the Gem of Cyttorak works for Casey. When The Hood slipped on the Infinity Gauntlet and loaded it with a couple of stones, he was able to do pretty much what anyone who had worn it before him could. There were no surprises beyond the fact such a random character had gotten their hands on it. But the power this gem grants Casey seems to tap into something far more unique.
Instead of bonding her to some sort of enhanced armor and turning into a human wrecking ball, the gem has tapped into her natural strengths. This certainly leads to a lot of speculation regarding how Crimson Gems of Cyttorak might affect other owners. If they're basically the most potent power boosters in existence, why aren't more heroes and villains trying to get them in their grasp? Perhaps this is a fluke situation, or maybe Casey's knowledge of the mystic arts might just give her a leg up on how to tap into the gems' true power.
Either way, the raw power Casey displayed while in possession of the gem is unlike anything we've seen before, and proves that maybe there's more mythology that can be squeezed out of sixty year old McGuffins in comic books. Who knows, maybe Mjölnir has some tricks up its sleeve. After all, do we really think it's gone for good? No. Mythological, cosmic, and mystic artifacts in comics are never truly gone, and sometimes they can be used in fresh new ways that make them feel shiny and new.