ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Moriarty the Patriot,’ Volume 1

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Moriarty the Patriot

There is no shortage of Sherlock Holmes content in the world right now. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s literary deductive detective has his own manga out from Titan Comics based on the BBC series and Netflix has adapted a young adult novel that adds a sister to the mix with Enola Holmes. In perfect timing, VIZ Media is also releasing a take on the timeless detective world with Moriarty the Patriot Volume 1, written by  Ryosuke Takeuchi and illustrated by Hikaru Miyoshi. The pair behind this new series which is published in English under VIZ Media’s Signature imprint are switching perspectives from Sherlock, to his greatest rival, Moriarty. 

Presented as an untold story, Takeuchi and Miyoshi show us this renowned literary villain before he became the rival we know today. Set in the late 19th century, Great Britain rules over a quarter of the world. Nobles sit in their fancy homes in comfort and luxury, while the working class slaves away at their jobs. When young Albert James Moriarty’s upper-class family adopts two lower-class orphans, the cruelty the boys’ experience at his family’s hands cements Albert’s hatred of the nobility he was born into. He asks the older of the two boys—who has a genius mind and a killer instinct—to help him rid the world of evil, starting with Albert’s own family. In Moriarty the Patriot Volume 1, which covers chapters one through three of the series, we see how the titular character fought against the unfair class caste system in London by making sure corrupt nobility got their comeuppance. That said, even the most well-intentioned plans can spin out of control—and over the course of this series we get to walk the fine line between hero and villain with him.

While I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes, I’ve always been pulled to Moriarty. Like any medium, a complex and dynamic rivalry between characters is a way to automatically hook me – just take a look at all the amazing shonen series. That said, deep dives into character backgrounds like what’s done in Moriarty the Patriot Volume 1 doesn’t always hit home because they ignore the sinister personality traits to paint a hero. Luckily, Takeuchi avoids this pitfall and instead builds out who Moriarty is, not to absolve him of his villainous deeds but to present his life as the journey that got him there. Moriarty’s unique sense of morality and the lengths he’ll go to achieve it is the anchor of the story.

By centering Moriarty’s ability to kill in the story, we’re given his ability to cause pain even if he does it from empathizing with the oppressed. The fact that Takeuchi is able to do this by showcasing childhood and adulthood shows the mangaka’s storytelling skill. Additionally, there a couple of twists that happen just in these three debut chapters that are exciting, specifically as the scenes in the book transition from childhood to adulthood. It also does not take long for you to understand the hole of darkness Moriarty must crawl out of to take his place as Sherlock’s rival and once the story heats up, it doesn’t cool down.

Additionally, Miyoshi’s artwork is beautiful – and that’s the only word I can come up with to describe it. Moriarty is equal parts bishonen beauty and edgy protagonist. There is an innocence he draws both in the young and adult James Moriarty that is both sinister and sweet. Balanced with the beautifully illustrated period clothing, Miyoshi offers up a look in 19th century Great Britain to great effect.

Overall, the theme of the series is classism and how James Moriarty is aiming to cure his country of it. He’s a patriot to himself, but a scourge to the upper-class. Additionally, the balance between Moriarty’s charisma and ability to move through the world of elites with his disdain for the rich is done in such a way that it never feels forces or contrived. Truthfully, Moriarty the Patriot Volume 1 is a must-buy for fans of the Sherlock Holmes’ literary universe and those looking to eat the rich alike.

Moriarty the Patriot Volume 1 is out in bookstores October 6, 2020.

Moriarty the Patriot Volume 1
5

TL;DR

Overall, the theme of the series is classism and how James Moriarty is aiming to cure his country of it. He’s a patriot to himself, but a scourge to the upper-class. Additionally, the balance between Moriarty’s charisma and ability to move through the world of elites with his disdain for the rich is done in such a way that it never feels forces or contrived. Truthfully, Moriarty the Patriot Volume 1 is a must-buy for fans of the Sherlock Holmes’ literary universe and those looking to eat the rich alike.