(nb: I received an advance review copy from the publisher via NetGalley)
Sherlock Holmes has been dead for twenty years, and there’s nobody to rein in Professor James Moriarty. Can the world still be standing?
The answer is yes. There was something life-affirming for Moriarty in having an opponent as worthy of Holmes. With his arch nemesis gone, life just isn’t as much fun; the challenge is gone. In fact, we find ourselves wondering if Moriarty was necessarily “evil” at all—he was just playing black to Holmes’s white in an ongoing game of chess.
This deluxe edition of “Moriarty” features both of the “Moriarty” stories, presented beautifully.
When we meet Moriarty here, he’s given up his old life. Without Holmes as his opposite, he’s grown bored. He leaves Professor James Moriarty behind, and works under the name “Trumbold,” doing small investigations for mainly criminal elements. It’s intellectual scut-work at best, and it pays far less than masterminding all of Europe’s criminal underworlds. He’s slumming it, and he knows it.
One day, he stumbles onto a real mystery with worthy adversaries. He’s forced to rekindle some of his underworld acquaintances, and he finds himself stimulated for a change. Another genius scientist—one of Moriarty’s former colleagues at Durham University—has developed a device that can show people the darkest secrets of their pasts, as well as horrors from their futures. Twists and turns abound, as Moriarty wracks his brain to find this device before it can be used to destroy London.
In the second story, we’re off to Burma, where Moriarty is looking for a missing colleague. He stumbles into chaos, with opium trafficking, Colonial oppression, mysterious shootings, and a tree that just might have unimaginable mystical properties. Moriarty has to rely on his guts and considerable intellect to survive.
Professor James Moriarty has always been one of the most underappreciated characters in literature. For many, he was simply Sherlock Holmes’s intellectual punching bag, but there was more to him than that. The guy wasn’t Snidely Whiplash, for crying out loud. He created plots and schemes that were so deeply intricate that only Sherlock Holmes could solve them. It’s easy to imagine how frustrating it must have been to be the most-intelligent man alive, EXCEPT for Sherlock Holmes.
From these two excellent stories, we see the same Moriarty—the lover of puzzles and mysteries—just working from the other side.
The two story arcs in “Moriarty” are creative and interesting, and I like what author Daniel Corey does in this counterintuitive take on Professor James Moriarty. The artwork, led by Anthony Diecedue (with Mike Vosburg, Perry Freeze, and lettering by Dave Lanphear), gives the feeling of old London. The images suggest dim lighting and fog. The faces are almost gaunt, all sharp edges and planes, full of menace.
The combination of story and illustration mesh perfectly, making “Moriarty” a dark joy of a graphic novel, with an unusually literate flavor.