One Piece: Are Marco and King equally strong?
After Marco and King clashed in the Wano Arc, One Piece fans were left dubious about who was the stronger of the two. Being the right-hand men of Whitebeard and Kaido respectively, these two Commanders are the most powerful individuals in their crew right after their captain. Based on their portrayal, a match between Marco and King would be very tough, regardless of the winner.
Key highlights of the article
Marco and King are two of the strongest Yonko commanders in One Piece
They have the same status as the second in command of a Yonko
Both Marco and King served as second in command of a Yonko who had the world's strongest title. Marco was the number two of Whitebeard, the World's Strongest Man, while King filled the same position under Kaido, the World's Strongest Creature.
While Marco operated as Whitebeard's right-hand man, King was Kaido's right-hand man. One Piece author Eiichiro Oda recently confirmed that they were the second strongest individual in their crew right after their captain. This status proves that Marco and King were remarkably above the average Commanders of their respective crews, like Jozu from Whitebeard Pirates, and Queen from Beasts Pirates.
Some right-hand men are very close to their captain's strength. Such is the connection between Benn Beckman and Shanks, Rayleigh and Roger, and Zoro with Luffy.
Marco and King, however, are depicted quite differently. In their relationship with Whitebeard and Kaido, respectively, Marco and King act like a son towards his father or an underling in relation to his boss.
They are depicted as peers and as polar opposites at the same time
Marco and King's fighting styles appear to be really similar. It might be said that they have the same powers, just reversed with polar opposites. Both ate Zoan Devil Fruits, which allow them to transform into flying beasts - a peaceful phoenix and an aggressive pteranodon, respectively. While Marco possesses blue healing flames, King has highly destructive red flames.
The similarity and, likewise, the contrast between their main powers really catches the eye. The connection goes further with both of them having a very similar gimmick of being seemingly invulnerable, a skill that very few other One Piece characters possess. Marco regenerates any kind of damage thanks to his phoenix powers, while King survives any injury through his Lunarian bloodline ability.
Very interestingly, when placed in similar situations, Marco and King are portrayed the same way. The first time they were introduced, both appeared with a Commander of lower rank, Jozu and Queen, respectively. Both of them also received, and wholeheartedly refused, an invitation to join from another Emperor. Marco was asked by Shanks, while King was asked by Big Mom.
Last but not least, Marco and King share an impressively equal feat. On two separate occasions during the One Piece series, they both repelled the massive ship of the Big Mom Pirates with a mere kick that pushed it back completely. This feat is also a testament to their remarkable physical strength.
However, on this issue, King was depicted as being more capable than Marco. While the latter needed a named move to repel the ship when Big Mom wasn't on it, the former was able to repel the ship with both Linlin and her subordinates on board to possibly defend it. He also achieved that feat with a simple nameless hit. This could hint at King's raw physical strength being greater than Marco's.
All these parallels between King and Marco can hardly be coincidental, given their noticeable frequency. Unsurprisingly, Oda ended up having these two characters fighting purposely inconclusive fights in ambiguous settings.
Marco fought King backed up by Queen and was able to fend them off despite the numerical disadvantage. However, he wasn't able to inflict any meaningful damage on them and ended up using most of his energy.
After this fight, there was a second confrontation. This time Marco and King fought by themselves one against one. The result was that the former was overpowered by the latter, who appeared completely unscathed despite fighting such an opponent. Nevertheless, the fact that Marco was already tired by then surely played a part in that significant outcome.
Marco's abilities and feats
Marco is the former Commander of the First Division of the Whitebeard Pirates and Edward Newgate's former right-hand man. After Newgate's death and the crew's tragic defeat in the Paramount War in Marineford, Marco assumed the leadership of the Whitebeard Pirates. Still, the crew ultimately disbanded after losing a fierce battle against the Blackbeard Pirates.
Having been a member of the Whitebeard Pirates for more than 30 years, Marco is highly experienced. His might is respected by nearly everyone in the One Piece world, making him one of the most influential individuals in the series.
Marco's main source of power is the Bird Bird Fruit Model: Phoenix, a Mythological Zoan which allows him to transform into a phoenix, increasing his mobility and physical strength and gifting him exceptional healing powers.
As long as he has enough stamina, Marco can immediately self-regenerate any kind of damage he receives. This ability allowed him great feats, such as holding his own against Kizaru and Big Mom and blocking attacks from King and even Kaido. Thanks to his regenerative abilities, Marco was able to hold off King and Queen by himself. However, he wasn't able to hurt them significantly despite pushing himself.
King's abilities and feats
King is the last surviving member of the Lunarians, one of the most mysterious lost races in the One Piece world. Lunarians are hailed as monsters capable of surviving everything. He is Kaido's right-hand man and his strongest and most loyal subordinate. Kaido, impressed by his strength, recruited him as his second in command. He assigned him the name "King" in place of his real name, Alber.
Thanks to his Lunarian powers, King can endure devastating strikes without receiving any kind of damage, or trade some of his durability to increase his speed at the utmost level. King can create and manipulate fire to perform destructive attacks at every range, an ability which granted him the moniker of "Wildfire". His flames are akin to magma, which is much stronger than normal fire.
King is a tough fighter with great swordsmanship skills and Armament Haki. He ate an Ancient Zoan Devil Fruit, the Dragon-Dragon Model: Pteranodon, which allows him to fly at extremely high speed and unleash attacks with enough power to destroy large pieces of Onigashima. His pteranodon wings are really durable, to the point that they can withstand attacks strong enough to cut Kaido's dragon scales.
King easily repelled the ship with Big Mom and her crew aboard. He later tag-teamed with Queen against Marco. Thanks to their numerical advantage, they brought Marco to exhaustion, without suffering much damage. King then fought against Zoro. He initially gained the upper hand, but he ended up outclassed, but not without forcing Zoro to unlock the very rare Advanced Conqueror Haki to win.
Final thoughts on this match-up
With their status as Emperors' right-hand men, there's little doubt that both Marco and King are stronger than most pirates in the One Piece world. However, even they have their limits. Marco was brutally defeated by Blackbeard, whom he attempted to fight to take revenge for Whitebeard and Ace's deaths. King ended up completely outclassed after Zoro awakened the next stage of his abilities.
When the author had Marco and King fight one against the other during the Wano Arc, he decided to have the outcome of the battle ambiguous and inconclusive. Many One Piece fans interpreted this choice as a hint of the fact that Marco and King are more or less equally as strong. This understanding appears to be the most logical, given the fact that they are conceived as counterparts of each other.
With his sword slashes and powerful magma-like fire moves, King could force Marco to expend a lot of energy to block attacks or heal himself. Then again, Marco could use his regeneration to go through King's attacks and hit him, but he lacks the power to overcome his opponent's Lunarian resiliency. Both own some kind of invulnerability, making the battle between them very prolonged and draining.
Eventually, King would conjure his massive dragon of Lunarian fire to destroy Marco, who would use his phoenix regenerative powers to pass through it and strike King with a Phoenix Brand close-range attack, ultimately taking him down. However, that feat would require Marco to use up all his energy, causing him to pass out. Due to mutual knockouts, the fierce fight would ultimately end in a draw.