Zombie Powder by Tite Kubo (amazon)
Bleach is one of my favorite fighting manga. It has the winning combination of interesting characters, an appealing art style, and kinetic fight scenes that are inventive, crazy, and sometimes funny. Zombie Powder is Tite Kubo’s earlier series and after sampling the first volume, I can understand why it only lasted for three more books.
Elwood lives with his older sister, trying to make ends meet by picking pockets after a local gang drove the family store out of business. One day he meets Gamma Akutabi, a man whose armored hand is useful for plucking bullets out of the air. Gamma also carries around a giant sword/chainsaw. Elwood joins Gamma’s quest for zombie powder, a substance that can raise the dead and make the living immortal.
One of the things I like about Bleach is the way the main character Ichigo evolves throughout all his fights as he grows in power and starts to accept his destiny. In Zombie Powder Elwood is basically helpless and Gamma is so powerful and self-assured that I didn’t see either of them working towards gaining new abilities or growing much as characters. Kubo’s art and layouts aren’t as innovative as they are in Bleach, and Zombie Powder just seems like so much of a journeyman effort that I’d only recommend it for Kubo completists. I guess part of the problem is that my expectations were set by a more mature work, there is no way Zombie Powder isn’t going to suffer in comparison.