Hmm. How to put this? Okay...
Have you ever seen the excellent 26 episode anime Cowboy Bebop? Yes, the one with action, adventure and a perfect dose of comedy? Well if you did you know what to expect - several weird parts and a couple of (perfect) action parts.
Sadly what you get here is a very average manga. For one thing the first volume is far too short. Four stories isn't much and none of them are as good as any of the anime episodes. The drawing is clear and crisp with a distinct 'Bebop' feel, and all the characters are there and the manga has captured their personalities perfectly. So why isn't it up to the anime standard? The plotlines for a start. They seem weak and ropey. Whereas a few 'Ein' (the dog) based episodes would have added flavour or a couple 'Ed' oriented chapters would have been good, both are relegated to the sidelines in favour of the other characters, which is a shame.
Equally, any hint of the kung-fu gunplay with Vicious would have made this essential, but that too is sadly absent. Don't get me wrong, the combat is cool, Faye is as slutty as ever and Spike has that uber-cool essence we all love but it just doesn't feel like the anime.
The star is the final chapter which is fun and more action-oriented with some excellent gangster elements elevating it above the rest. The sad thing is, it isn't presented as well as the lesser tales in this book, and that's a let-down.
One of the biggest flaws in this book is its reliance on your having seen the anime to make sense of the plot, and as such this volume should only be picked up by the Bebop faithful.
There is nothing wrong with this on paper, but when you compare it to the excellent Gundam Wing: Episode Zero you wonder why Bebop isn't as well anchored.
Overall it is a solid but not essential addition to any Bebop fan's collection, and a confusing curiosity for everyone else. Most critically of all, it captures the characters perfectly but the essence of Bebop escapes it.