Moriarty Writer: Daniel Corey Artist: Anthony Diecidue Published by Image Comics
Moriarty is a fun but dense read and feels as if the reader is watching a Sherlock Holmes novel playing out right before the reader’s eyes. Be it Moriarty’s narration or the accents and slang of native Londoners, this book has the feel of a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novel. The story will have the any fan of the Sherlock Holmes novels giddy with excitement as the characters stroll down familiar roads and bump into recognizable faces in the world that Doyle and others have created and expanded over the years. Even with prior knowledge of both the characters and locations, any reader can pick up this book but fans of the novels will experience a deeper enjoyment of the book.
What makes Moriarty issue #1 an interesting read is that the books focus on the character of Professor James Moriarty, the “arch-nemesis” of Sherlock Holmes, a character that has only appeared in two of the twelve Sherlock Holmes novels written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Furthermore, Moriarty has never been seen by Dr. Watson, the narrator of the Sherlock Holmes novels, and is mentioned in recollection by Holmes in five other novels. The misnomer of the character is that the general public thinks he (Moriarty) appeared in more Holmes novels then he actually was. Instead of being a great character to examine, Moriarty has become part of the often used analogy used to describe the relationship between a protagonist and an antagonist which is often said or written like “He is blank’s Moriarty to blank’s Sherlock Holmes.” Often times, writers and creators spend their time focusing on Sherlock Holmes’s place in the mythos of the great detective, be it Batman or Mr. Spock’s deductive reason, instead of focusing on Moriarty’s place as a true villain. This book is a great examination of the character and his (allegedly) postmortem relationship with Holmes. To go one step further, could Moriarty truly exist without Holmes? This is played out by Moriarty faking his death to the general public.
The story starts many years after the death of Sherlock Holmes and the death of Professor Moriarty’s master villain persona, Moriarty. The professor now has taken the alias Mr. Trumbold who still keeps a small hand in the black market for a select few miscreants. Moriarty receives a mysterious letter concerning a missing college professor, a Professor Thomason, then later is contacted to find former government employee, Mycroft Holmes, the brother of Sherlock Holmes. What makes Mycroft Holmes an interesting case is that he has never been photographed and has had very few friends to speak of to identify him. This lack of friends and public identity situation reeks of another member of the Holmes clan. That being said, Moriarty feels that he is being set up but takes the case(s) nonetheless and contacts his old underworld network. As the story plays out, the mysteries begin to swirl as lives of Mycroft and Professor Thomason start to intertwine. Mycroft has disappeared underground to investigate Professor Thomason and his involvement in a secret society with supernatural ties. The cliffhanger of the issue will put Moriarty back into the public’s eye after a set up has drawn him out of the frying pan and back into the fire.
Daniel Corey turns in a dense and wordy book that invokes the feeling one gets from reading a Sherlock Holmes novel albeit from the point of Moriarty. By changing the role of Moriarty and Sherlock, Corey sheds light on the very core of Moriarty and it is here where the idea of ‘can Moriarty exist without Sherlock. All of the characters of the book seem to have leapt out of the pages of the novels and into this comic book keeping true to the spirit of the novels but still in keeping with Corey’s voice and writing style. Corey constantly keeps Holmes in the back of Moriarty’s mind like a love scorned man still holding a candle underneath the disdain for his ex-lover. Moriarty is an interesting character to read and is an obvious equal to Holmes even if Moriarty would never admit to it. Corey also has Moriarty continuously throwing verbal jabs at Sherlock in an attempt to overcome insecurities that he has with the master detective.
Anthony Diecidue turns in an interesting and gritty art style that is nothing short of moody and atmospheric. The scratchy line work and dark colors captures the tumultuous time period in London and the world’s history. Diecidue handles the disguises of Moriarty very well, changing the character’s appearance but still keeping the basic elements for the reader to follow. The very interesting part is that he draws Moriarty differently when he is openly acting as Moriarty amongst fellow underworld cohorts versus when he is using his alias of Mr. Trumbold. There is an air about Moriarty that breeds a sense of fear and respect that Trumbold does not seem to hold.
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