20816468Author: Daniel Corey
Artists: Anthony Diecidue and Mike Vosburg
Release Date: July 9, 2013
Publisher: Image Comics
Source: Bought and Owned
Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller, Alternate History

Based On: Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Spoilers: Mild
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Sherlock Holmes canon is one filled with a lot of characters that were never explored fully. This leads to a lot of stories and interpretations of various characters, including the infamous Professor James Moriarty. Moriarty only featured as a character in two stories, but it was enough to capture the imaginations of readers worldwide. Interpretations of the character have ranged from very subtle and creepy to completely off the rails to a mix of Holmes’ greatest love and greatest enemy. No matter how you choose to translate the character though, it is very obvious that Moriarty is one of the few equals Sherlock Holmes has ever had.

What exactly happened to Moriarty after Holmes disappeared though? Did he fall to his death as well or did the Napoleon of Crime live on without Holmes? Writer Daniel Corey hopes to speculate on that in his comic Moriarty…

…Kind of.

Moriarty takes place 20 years after Reichenbach. Holmes is either dead or missing and Moriarty has let his empire crumble. As World War I lurks on the horizon, Moriarty picks up odd private investigator jobs as a man named Trumbold. However, his past life comes back for him when he is hired by Section Five to find a missing Mycroft Holmes.

Everything after that goes completely freakin’ nuts.

The flaming cane is the most normal thing about this.
The flaming cane is the most normal thing about this. []
The elements of Moriarty read more like a steampunk-esque pulp novel than a straight adaptation of Holmes canon. Well, I guess you can say that about the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes movies as well, but Moriarty also has boxes that can predict the future and a tree in Burma that brings people back to life. So… slightly supernatural steampunk-esque pulp novel.

I’m usually not big on Sherlock Holmes having a supernatural bent, but in Moriarty, Corey makes it work. The world Moriarty lives in is dark and sinister and it only gets darker as he pulls away the layers in his hunt for the older Holmes brother and for a way to reverse his own fate. Anthony Diecidue’s art and colors compliment the world Corey has created for his turn on the Professor perfectly, especially as Moriarty gets further into his own mind and the weirdness his journey has brought him to. There’s a particular scene in the second half of the hardcover where Moriarty is haunted by the memory of his rival that explodes with ethereal colors that’s breathtakingly gorgeous.

He also makes the few moments we see Baker Street feel like home. []
He also makes the few moments we see Baker Street feel like home. []
Like any halfway decent pulp novel though, not everything makes sense. Moriarty’s revelation at the end of The Dark Chamber and going into The Lazarus Tree isn’t really clear and required me going back to try and understand what just happened. Also, it sometimes feels like there are little parts of the story that repeat themselves. Not big ones, but why is Moriarty telling me that he’s going to Mycroft’s flat when the caption is telling me the same thing?

And then there’s Jade.

Jade is Moriarty’s former love interest and partner in crime. She teams back up with him to help with the search for Mycroft Holmes in The Dark Chamber. She’s a very competent and tough woman who can hold her own in a fight, but she’s also a ninja assassin who is the head of an underground organization of assassins called the Network of the Jade Serpent.

If you thought the words “Dragon Lady,” don’t worry, so did I. She’s not a complete embodiment of the trope since she works alongside our anti-hero Moriarty instead of against him and refuses to be subservient, but I have to wonder why the main female character in this story is a ninja. If you can turn your brain off for an hour though and add Jade to the list of already pulpy aspects of the comic, she’s a lot of fun. Just be prepared for the fridge logic to work overload in regards to her when you’re done.

Jade in action. []
Jade in action. []
It also feels mean that Mata Hari appears as a character in this story, but only for a few pages. She’s a fascinating historical figure in her own right. Where are the comic book stories about her?

Final Thoughts:

Kind of confusing and definitely over-the-top, Daniel Corey’s Moriarty is a lot of fun as well as a fascinating interpretation of the legendary character. There are parts of it that feel a bit strange, but the story and Diecidue’s art keep you in for the ride. If there’s more of Moriarty in the future, I look forward to popping some popcorn and seeing where he goes.

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