Video game lore that extends beyond the games themselves, specifically through comic books, has traditionally been disastrous. With the high volume of video game comics these days, however, there are bound to be a few hits. For instance, I found that The Darkness Levels comics released just prior to the video game’s console debut in the summer of 2007 complimented it nicely and enriched my experience when I played through the game. Conversely, I had a bad run-in with the World of Warcraft comic and its lack of substance. Then again, as evidenced by the Halo comic, sometimes a venture into the wonderful world of sequential art can fail simply by being tardy; Issue #1 released in August of 2007 with #2 arriving that following November. We didn’t see issue #3 until August of 2008, a year after the series started. Disaster!
Unbeknownst to me until very recently, a manga based on the Ace Attorney series of video games have been coming out in Japan since 2007. Fortunately for us fans, Capcom has a hit on their hands and in September of 2008 they, along with Del Rey Manga, brought it to the western world under the name Official Casebook Vol. 1: The Phoenix Wright Files.
Seemingly taking place some time after Trials and Tribulations (the third Ace Attorney game), The Phoenix Wright Files consists of twenty short stories, with each one featuring a new creator or creative team and a unique glance at the happenings that take place before, after, and during a case. Since an entire trial is never depicted ad nauseum, expect most of it to be a behind the scenes look at some of Phoenix and Maya’s more non-pertinent-to-non-superfans everyday activities that you miss out on in the games. Since there’s a different artist for every story, expect to see some interesting interpretations of your favorite characters’ appearance (chibi Edgeworth and Von Karma are a sight to behold). The creators also appear to be fans of the video game series as the back of the book contains personal messages from them accompanied by a drawing of their favorite character. I found this to be a nice touch. Also at the back of the book is an untranslated four page preview of Volume 2 of the Ace Attorney Manga: The Miles Edgeworth Files.
I enjoyed reading these stories immensely. The Ace Attorney series is by far my favorite Nintendo DS franchise and this manga collection did a lot to enrich my love and appreciation for the game’s characters. I’ll recommend that any fan of the games gives it a read, but I’d advise you to wait until you’ve finished the first three games as minor spoilers are sprinkled throughout; the writers definitely assume that you’ve played through them by way of references and guest appearances. The cover price is $14.95 in the US but it can be had for $11.95 at ScifiGenre.