In the One Piece world, very few characters can compete with Silvers Rayleigh. Known and feared all over the world by the sobriquet of "Dark King," he was the first mate of Roger Pirates and the right-hand man of Gol D. Roger, the Pirate King. Rayleigh made a very prominent return in the latest installment of the series, leaving fans hyped for him.
One Piece chapter 1059 featured Rayleigh coming on Amazon Lily to protect Boa Hancock from Blackbeard, one of the Four Emperors. His outstanding reputation was enough to intimidate Blackbeard, who gave up his intent and left the island. This feat is further proof that the Dark King is an individual who is on par with the Emperors, if not even stronger. Follow this thread to learn more on the topic.
Disclaimer: This article contains major spoilers from the One Piece manga up to Chapter 1060.
Why Rayleigh is among the strongest characters in the One Piece series, explained
Rayleigh was comparable in strength to Roger
At this point, the whole One Piece fandom agrees that Rayleigh is at the level of the Emperors, if not even stronger than most. He was Roger's right-hand man, operating not as a mere subordinate of the latter but as a partner and a peer to him. Rayleigh's strength being close and comparable to Roger's speaks for itself about the former's status, given how powerful the Pirate King was.
While that already appeared obvious to most fans, One Piece author Eiichiro Oda has officially confirmed Rayleigh as the second strongest person in his former crew. This was portrayed with the color spread of chapter 1031, which depicted the line-up of the "Number Twos," the second strongest individuals from the most prominent crews and groups, involving Rayleigh from the Roger Pirates.
Rayleigh's moniker of "Dark King" hints at him being an individual of the same caliber as Roger, the Pirate King. This is further implied by their original names, Silvers and Gol D., which are based on silver and gold, the two precious metals. The third member of Roger Pirates' "Metal Trio" is Scopper Gaban; however, he has a much lesser portrayal, as copper is metal but not a precious one.
Throughout the One Piece series, it has been made clear that people born with Conqueror Haki inside them don't follow others because they are the kind of people who lead, not the ones who tag along.
The presence of multiple Conqueror Haki users in Rocks Pirates led the crew to their downfall. Whitebeard wondered why Oden would join him. Zoro refused the Baroque Works' offer to join the organization, saying that he would only join if he was made the boss of the group. Nevertheless, despite being a Conqueror in his own right, Rayleigh decided to follow Roger.
This happened because, unlike the others, his strength is extremely close and comparable to his captain's. He didn't join him out of a need for protection, but because of the spontaneous trust he felt for him. As a result, the connection between Rayleigh and Roger is different. The former is not a mere follower of a leader but a king who decided to join another king, believing in his vision.
Roger and Rayleigh make an outstanding duo of Conqueror Haki users and individuals worthy of being called kings for their potential and their strong will. They advance together, like two equals who aim for the top of the world together. Such is the nature of the Roger/Rayleigh connection.
Rayleigh's status in the One Piece world
Being one of the very few individuals who are close in strength to Gol D. Roger, Rayleigh's strength is exceptional. He is portrayed as one of the absolute top dogs in the One Piece series. Garp, one of the most influential figures in the Old Era, depicted Rayleigh as a legend who is comparable to Whitebeard, the former World's Strongest Man and Emperor.
It was recently revealed that Dracule Mihawk, the World's Strongest Swaordsman, an individual who surpasses even Shanks, was not interested in becoming a Yonko. Rayleigh seems to be the same kind of person. With his strength, if he wanted to, he could have become a legendary captain on his own. However, he most likely wasn't interested in that, preferring to be Roger's most trusted man.
In the One Piece world, everyone respects and praises Rayleigh's strength. His reputation alone was enough for Blackbeard, one of the Four Emperors, to immediately give up his previous intent to capture Boa Hancock. While Rayleigh admitted that, given his current old age, he wouldn't be able to defeat Blackbeard, this seemingly hinted that he could have been able to do that if he was in his prime.
When Luffy, Zoro, and the others arrived in Sabaody Archipelago, it was stated that Rayleigh, even in a rusty and aged condition, was a hundred times stronger than them and the other members of the Eleven Supernovas. Jinbe, a former Warlord, was astonished to see Rayleigh with his own eyes and trembled in fear in front of him. Instead, Jinbe was confident and calm in the presence of Big Mom, a Yonko.
It was stated that Rayleigh is a man everyone knows about, to the point that his name is hailed even in history books. After Roger's death, Rayleigh retired from piracy. Despite being weakened by inactivity and old age, he was still strong enough to fight on par with Admiral Kizaru, who was unable to get past him. This suggests that Rayleigh could have been stronger than the Admirals in his prime.
Rayleigh is considered the older generation version of Roronoa Zoro, the one who will become the World's Strongest Swordsman. They share the same portrayal as the right-hand men of Pirate Kings, the former being Roger, and the future one being Luffy. Oda created a noticeable parallel between Zoro and Rayleigh, making them very alike in every possible way, from their status to their fighting style.
The most blatant similarity between the two is represented by their similar monikers, "Dark King" and "King of Hell," which recall the concept of shadow rulers, hinting at the fact that they are powerful individuals who are very comparable to their captains. In fact, both Zoro and Rayleigh possess the very rare Conqueror Haki and are incredibly strong swordsmen.
Rayleigh didn't need a Devil Fruit to become tremendously strong
According to Kaido, one of the Four Emperors and mightiest characters in the series, in the One Piece world, Haki is the greatest power of all. It transcends everything else, even Devil Fruits. Kaido also stated that the ability to use Conqueror Haki at its advanced stage is what puts the strongest ones above the others.
Rayleigh gives concrete evidence to Kaido's statement. Despite never eating a Devil Fruit, the right-hand man of the Pirate King is an extremely powerful warrior. He is an outstanding swordsman with incredible Haki prowess, being one of the few people who can use all three types of Haki, at least two out of the three at the most advanced stage. He was the one who taught and trained Luffy.
Rayleigh's raw physical strength is fearsome even at his elderly age. A testament to this is when he could clash on equal grounds against Admiral Kizaru, one of the strongest fighters at the World Government's disposal. Rayleigh has also shown the ability to kill several Sea Kings with his bare hands while swimming in the Calm Belt.
Since his first appearance, One Piece fans immediately understood that Silvers Rayleigh was one of the strongest characters in the series. Being the right-hand man of the former King of Pirates, his reputation for his strength is just insane, to the point where he is considered a living legend. It's not surprising that Rayleigh was directly compared to characters of Whitebeard's caliber.
What makes Rayleigh even greater is that he didn't need a Devil Fruit to earn a fearsome reputation, relying only on his swordsmanship and his Haki mastery. Being a powerful user of Color of Conqueror and Color of Armament, his prowess is absolute. Moreover, Rayleigh's Conqueror Haki is so powerful that One Piece author Eiichiro Oda directly likened his ability to Shanks.
Even after getting weaker with old age, Rayleigh was strong enough to be a threat to fighters of Kizaru and Blackbeard's caliber. Furthermore, it was implied that if Rayleigh was in his prime he would be able to overwhelm those incredibly powerful characters.
With the series entering its endgame after the latest chapters of the Wano Arc, One Piece fans would love to learn more about Rayleigh. After the latest chapter of the manga teased them with the Dark King's outstanding return, most fans are eager to see him in action again. Hopefully Eiichiro Oda will gift fans by showing Rayleigh's true strength, whether in the current events or through a flashback.
Poll : Do you think Rayleigh will be ever shown going all out in a fight?