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All personal bias aside, what’s the most iconic Nike Air Jordan; silhouette and colorway? “Bred” AJ4s? “Banned” 1s? Maybe the “White Cement” Jordan 3, so beloved in hip-hop?

While a definitive answer may be difficult to pinpoint, the iconic status of many cannot be argued. For the fourth sneaker in Michael Jordan’s signature line-up, few are more celebrated than the “Military Blue,” but what about the new kid on the block, “Military Black;” has it stolen the crown?

For context, the Air Jordan 4 “Military Blue” was first released in 1989, quickly becoming a huge hit. Unlike other colorways in the AJ4 family, such as “White Cement” and “Bred,” the blues weren’t worn by MJ in play during their release year, nor did they celebrate an on-court moment or milestone.

The first retro rerelease of the sneaker landed in 2006, with a follow-up in 2012 and a golf edition in 2021.

Unlike the remaining AJ4 cast, the “Military Blue” has been somewhat forgotten by Jordan Brand, leaving fans of the original hungry. Unsurprisingly, when rumblings of a new “Military” palette bubbled to the surface, these fans thought a remastered version was finally on the way.

Unfortunately, the blues were nowhere to be seen. What came instead was a modern classic, the “Military Black.”

From the moment official pictures of these surfaced, fans online made it clear that they’d be chasing a pair.

Essentially taking everything beloved about the color blocking of the blues and further desaturating it by replacing the blue portions with a deep black, resulting in a finish that emulates the original while being far more wearable.

If you’ve kicked about a major city recently, especially one with a thriving young community, chances are you’ll have seen more than a handful of pairs of “Military Black” 4s. Heck, Harvey Nichols’ current signage even features a pair.

Choosing the “better” pair based on current popularity would be foolish – the blues haven’t retroed in over ten years, while the blacks dropped just last year, yet, basing the decision off exclusivity would be just as foolish; these are two very different eras.

One thing we can say for sure, though, is that the “Military Black” is an original colorway done right – it emulates a moment that fans love and desire while offering something fresh.

Could it be argued that the “Military Black” pair is the “Panda” of Jordans? Perhaps; but that doesn’t take away from how good they look. After all, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Having owned both, with the blacks in my current rotation, I have to say that the “Military Blue” has far more character; they stand out without being garish, and better yet, they’re a true classic; you can’t think of 4s without thinking “Military Blue.”

If, in 11 years, the “Military Black” hasn’t seen a comeback, will it be as heavily desired as its blue counterpart? Maybe; maybe not; but either way, there’s room for both to thrive.