I believe Buggy owes his success as a Warlord, and then subsequent rise to Emperor, to Crocodile. But I guess we’ll wait and see what the real story is once we get some actual dialogue from the two characters in upcoming chapters.
Nevertheless, I see the members of the Cross Guild becoming allies to the Straw Hats rather than being legitimate enemies. With them being what pivots our protagonists into targeting the World Government. Along with whatever the Revolutionaries got going on.
But before that happens, I think some rematches are in order first:
Zoro vs. Mihawk
Ah, yes…the rematch over 1,000 chapters in the making. Zoro’s ultimate test to see if he’s worthy of the title of “The World’s Greatest Swordsman”. Finally, achieving his dream and honoring the memory of his childhood rival and friend, Kuina:
With Mihawk being recently thrown back into the mix with this whole Cross Guild reveal, it seems that Zoro is getting close to achieving this goal.
Though, I’m having trouble deciding whether it will before or after the Straw Hats clash with Blackbeard. For now, I’m thinking before just because Blackbeard has yet to become an immediate threat to our protagonists. Besides, with both Mihawk and Zoro being “commanders” to recently-crowned Emperors, they’re essentially equals now. Right?
Anyhow, I see Zoro’s rematch with Mihawk being where his swords turn black. Assuming none had turned black following his fight with King. Where he declared himself the ‘King of Hell’.
Pretty badass moment where he asserted himself as a worthy master of Enma. Having very recently achieved this feat, I’d say Zoro’s swords aren’t black just yet.
Most symbolically, the Wado Ichimonji, the sword passed down to him from Kuina, should be the one to wait until the rematch with Mihawk before blackening up. Remember, Zoro has carried this particular one with him throughout his entire journey as a wandering swordsman. Not to mention, it’s the only sword of his that survived his first clash with Hawkeye:
While Zoro’s character arc has been fairly straightforward, none too complicated, he sure has come a long way since Chapter 51. I, for one, am looking forward to this rematch.
As far as Mihawk goes, he seems to have always admired Zoro’s determination. And his selfless devotion towards his captain, Luffy:
Mihawk, in general, has always held an interest in Luffy, along with Zoro. Why exactly remains a mystery.
What made Zoro, this former formidable bounty hunter, follow this young rookie pirate? What exactly makes Luffy so interesting?
Hopefully, with him being one of the key-members of the Cross Guild, we’ll finally get some better insight into his own personal interests and motivations.
Luffy vs. Crocodile
I can already hear the furious typing in the comments: “Crocodile is too weak. He lost to a pre-gears, pre-haki Luffy. He didn’t even deserve to be a warlord!”
One out of three of these statements is objectively true. The other two are purely opinions that I don’t agree with in the slightest.
It is true that Luffy defeated Crocodile without the use of haki and gears. However, I believe it can be argued that Luffy defeated Crocodile without him exercising the full extent of his strength and devil-fruit mastery. Or even seriously tapping into it.
I believe it is implied that the former-Warlord is an awakened devil-fruit user.
Or, at the very least, it’s a goal he’s been working towards achieving. But I like to think he’s already there:
Perhaps like Mihawk, Crocodile doesn’t like to bring out the big guns to hunt a rabbit. Though, unlike Mihawk, Crocodile made the disastrous error in underestimating Luffy. Repeatedly, so. I guess that’s a good thing. Otherwise, where would our young protagonist be?
Logias have been hyped up to be the most devastating class of devil fruits. Arguably, its a key reason the concept of haki had to be introduced to the series. And this was before considering their awakened potential.
To date, no logia awakenings have been confirmed. Or even explained. But just as awakened zoans were the major focus in Act 3 of Wano, I believe awakened logias will be a major focus in the Final Saga. Think about all the logia heavy-hitters who, for sure, will play major roles in upcoming arcs:
- Fleet Admiral Sakazuki – Magma Fruit
- Admiral Ryokugyu – Plant Fruit
- Admiral Kizuaru – Light Fruit
- Former-Admiral Kuzan – Ice Fruit
- Dragon’s Righthand, Sabo – Flame Fruit
- Emperor Blackbeard – Dark Fruit
Ryokugyu, in particular, with his introduction, could’ve served as a “sample” of what a logia-awakening looks like. I mean, we may have already gotten that with Crocodile back in Alabasta. But now, we know about devil-fruit awakenings. What signs to look out for. And, really, it took Shanks to chase the Plant Admiral away.
For Crocodile to be considered Buggy’s “wing” opposite to Mihawk, it should be reasonable to expect he’s one tough son of a bitch.
Even if he’s not quite on Mihawk’s same level, he’s good enough to hold his own against ol’ Hawk Eyes:
Deflecting a hit from Yoru with just his hook should count for something. Even if in a true 1v1, its best to put your money on Hawk Eyes.
Crocodile sure does receive way too much disrespect from the OP fandom. Like, everything he did at Marineford is largely considered plot contrivances. But I see it fitting with his previous status as a Warlord. As well as his past as a hotshot rookie. Regarding his loss to Luffy in Alabasta, the man probably hadn’t had a serious fight since living in Alabasta (which was about 14 years). This rookie really caught him by surprise. And right when he was busy executing the final stages of a coup against Nefertari Cobra. Not the best time for him.
The man is seriously overdue on a thorough power-level analysis. I’ll add that to my list of topics to address some other day.
But for now, I think I’ve done enough to justify that Crocodile has what it takes to fight Emperor Luffy, who has very recently awakened his own devil fruit. The Human-Human Fruit: Model Nika:
As controversial as Gear 5 has turned out to be, I’d say it’s wackier aspects would be perfect against Crocodile.
Crocodile is the bitter old boomer/gen-x’er of the series. And even seems to have been a sourpuss ever since he was a kid:
His flashbacks should reveal why it is that he’s perpetually in a bad mood. One day, I assume, we’ll get.
Besides, in a rematch between Luffy and Crocodile, Gear 5 would be a callback to some of the wackiest moments in Alabasta, too:
Luffy got Robin to laugh, which was a subtle hint that she wasn’t evil like Crocodile. And following Marineford, I got the feeling that Crocodile isn’t quite pure evil either. Rather, he’s just another dude with emotional baggage that he’s been processing in the worst possible way. You know, like every other One Piece villain?
And while Crocodile does kinda suffer from “Early Villain Syndrome”, the one benefit there in a long-running shonen series is that it makes him eligible for a redemption arc. Think Vegeta from Dragon Ball. Or everyone’s favorite, Prince Zuko from Avatar the Last Airbender.
Again, Marineford may’ve indicated he’s well on his way to becoming an antihero. Let’s not forget Robin’s incredibly riveting redemption arc during Water 7/Enies Lobby. You know, the one lady who worked had worked with Crocodile before?