Somewhere in the desert lies the world's greatest treasure: the 12 Rings of the Dead, the only source of the mysterious substance called Zombie Powder, which can raise the dead and grant eternal life. Into this world walks Gamma Akutabi, a man with a metal arm and a six-foot chainsaw, cybernetically enhanced master of the legendary martial art.
But it takes more than one man to find the ultimate prize. You need a team: super-gunman C.T. Smith, knife-slinging teenager Elwood, and brilliant (and impossibly big-breasted) journalist Wolfgangina. Against an army of crooks and killers, against runaway trains and super-powered madmen, they'll need all their skills... but the most dangerous thing in the west might be the Rings themselves...
(Source: VIZ Media)
Volume 2: Ultra Unholy Hearted Machine
Volume 3: Kokumashi Urara (Rune Master Urara)
Volume 4: Bad Shield United
Zombie Powder is a bit of a mixed bag. It's really impossible to not compare it to Bleach, since Zombie Powder was the mangaka's previous work (a relatively commercially unsuccessful one, I should probably add). It's probably not altogether fair to make the comparison, but it can't be helped since I already saw Bleach (both the anime and the manga) so I might as well just go ahead honestly with that perspective in mind.
As far as art goes, it's very similar in style to Bleach-- good but not quite great. I would say that the mangaka's style hasn't really changed
People who have read/seen Bleach will notice very obvious parallels between Ichigo and Gamma, both of which utilize ridiculously large swords and whose bodies contain some greater, dark being holding tremendous power. Both of these darker sides are at once the protagonist and not, and you see Ichigo/Gamma noticeably suppress them. There are some other character similarities (Inoue and "Wolfgangina" [<--- that really is her name, I'm not kidding] look very similar) but they're not quite as evident.
The characters are fairly well developed, better so than in Bleach, if you only go up to volume 4 (the last volume in Zombie Powder) to be fair. Some of the characters are pretty cool, my favorite of the bunch is probably CT Smith, a charismatic gunslinger who offers some of the best humor in the series. The characters are a bit more balanced than in Bleach (where Ichigo is by far the strongest of the original team that went to Soul Society) and can take care of themselves fairly well without always having to rely on Gamma-- something I appreciate.
In terms of settings, the Bleach and Zombie Powder universes are almost polar opposites. Bleach is a supernatural Japanese universe complete with swords and spirits while Zombie Powder is a sci-fi Western (think cowboy movies w.r.t to the Western part) universe with guns and outlaws. Between the two settings, I honestly prefer the supernatural Japanese one, although I will admit it is rather trite and Zombie Powder's setting is much more original (though it has a possible cousin in the form of Trigun).
As Zombie Powder is an action manga, it would be a tremendous oversight to discuss it without mentioning a bit about the action scenes, which I think are fairly good. They're actually quite similar to Bleach-- clean art, lots of plot twists in which it'll seem one guy is coming out on top but hey, go figure, he actually isn't, a generous helping of humor both during and between action scenes to keep the mood light. Also lots of bizarre "special" attacks and villains, ranging from a crazy circus magician to a titanic fat woman. It's a bit wacky, but if you've read the Bleach manga up to the latest chapters (with the rather bizarre and gruesome Szayel vs Mayuri fight) it's nothing you haven't seen before, anyway.
In conclusion, not a bad manga but I can't help but feel something is missing. Maybe that is due to the fact that this manga never really ended, the mangaka stopped abruptly. Maybe it's because some of the mechanics in the manga are a bit too similar to Bleach. It might also be because of the really cliche premise of the story-- essentially a search for "Rings of the Dead" to construct Zombie Powder to gain immortality. I think in the end, this was a worthwhile read for me, if only for historical purposes. If you like Western settings in manga, or if you really liked Bleach a lot and would like to see a similar series, or hey if you just have some free time, maybe take a quick look at Zombie Powder and see if you like it.
This is my first review, so please bear with me if it's kind of bad.
This Manga could go either way for the reader really, it had quite a bit of potential and could have went further if it had a little more support. It is a shame that it didn't, Zombie powder had an interesting story and plot line, the story of the Rings of the Dead and the Zombie Powder is rarely something seen in Manga making its story more original than most, along with good action scenes excellent fight sequences and some bizarre moves, and plot twists, it's more than enough to keep
The artwork was good and clean with attention to detail, there was isn't a scene where to much there is to much happening in one image that could be eye distracting for the reader. Good character art, loved the main character Gamma's hair do. The only real downside is that it could be considered somewhat simple.
The characters of the story, are fairly well balanced and developed, each have their strengths and weaknesses, and can take care of themselves during a battle without relying on the main character to help them out all the time, compare it to the Bleach Soul Society arc, Ichigo being the strongest of the group, was depended on the most , this annoys me in Manga's when most of the main cast are dependent on the main character, it lowers the value of the characters till later on in the series (clearly evident in Bleach).
The main character Gamma along with his partner/friend CT Smith provide the major fighting power for the group and action scenes for the story, Gamma providing comical humour usually more present in his actions whereas CT Smith provides more sarcastic, subtle and somewhat mocking humour to balance it out. Gamma being the swordsman uses a wide variety of techniques and battle skill easily over powering the majority of enemies (with some techniques vaguely reminiscent of Ichigo's techniques), CT Smith provides marksmanship with incredible skill seen shooting out the pins of the wheels of a moving train without missing a shot. These two provide the main force and best battle scenes of the story.
The setting for the story is in a somewhat futuristic/sci-fi western universe, with guns, outlaws, bandits,etc, has a slightly more original setting and is similar to the Trigun series setting.
Overall, if your a fan of Bleach, then you should enjoy Zombie Powder (since it was done by the same Mangaka Tite Kubo), or at least give it a look. The story, characters and action scenes are great and it gave me a good laugh. My only problem is that it ended to abruptly and was left with that unfinished feeling, so for that i would give a 7 overall, i would like to have given it a 7.5 but that score isn't there, and if lasted longer and finished off without leaving such an open ending i would have probably given it an 8 or 9.
I've never seen or read Bleach, but from reading this, I don't think I even want to bother. The story is typical shonen fare, which normally doesn't bother me if it has something out of the ordinary. Forbidden powers? Check. Wacky villains? Check. Annoying pipsqueak sidekick? Check. Chick with abnormally huge knockers? Double check. The Rings of the Dead were an interesting concept, but immortality has been done before, and it's really just another fetch quest. The action is okay, but other than that, there's nothing to be had. The humor is either way out of bounds or just plain not funny.
The art is
just plain awful. The lack of detail is astounding. Some of these characters are missing eyes, which may or may not be a stylistic thing; I leave that to you to decide. It looks sloppy, and whether the character is male or female it doesn't matter because they both look the same. Some of the character designs are decent, but other than that they look like they were ripped from other manga/anime.
The characters are pretty clichéd, and there's back story for about half of them. This is probably because they stopped printing this, so it ends before it even begins. If he'd continued making this, maybe it would have turned out to be something with a decent plot and character development, something worth reading, but as it stands, it’s barely passable. Unless you're a huge fan of Bleach, or a 13 year old kid, I say skip this mediocre piece and go read something good.
It's obvious that this is an earlier work of Bleach's Tite Kubo. The art isn't quite as polished as her later projects and some of the story elements carried over. The characters are interesting, yet they seem like prototypes for some of her later series.
Pros: Interesting story, great chance to check out the development of a famous artist's/author's progress, unique character designs
Cons: Ending leaves the reader hanging, unsatisfying if you're read Kubo's later works, basic "searching for 'forbidden' things" plot