I love Sherlock Holmes. From the books to the TV shows and the movies- Seeing riddles and clues unfold and be explained to his sidekick, Watson is exhilarating and very rewarding. This manga is no such story. That is what caught my attention in this new series. William James Moriarty is the arch-nemesis of Sherlock Holmes, and in his series, Moriarty the Patriot, the main protagonist is, as the title suggests, Moriarty. The very first panel of this manga has a hook-like no other and immediately invested me into the story it wanted to tell:
Moriarty the Patriot takes place during the Imperial Century of Britain’s History, where classism reigned supreme. With the help of his brothers and compatriots, Moriarty plans to rid the world of this oppressive global structure. As a famous literary villain, you would guess that Moriarty is plotting something nefarious. Although, in fact, his goals seem very much benevolent. I couldn’t help but feel a tad uncomfortable with the character’s self-righteousness, but I ultimately see it as a plus for this series. It plays with the idea of social inequality and makes you question what morals and codes of ethics you are willing to skew to achieve those goals.
Ryosuke Takeuchi writes a wonderfully unique story in a familiar and honestly, relatable setting on the surface of those thoughts. Moriarty the Patriot Vol. 1 is broken up into 3 chapters. The storytelling format is straightforward and easy to follow. The mysteries in each chapter are fun to see revealed, albeit a bit predictable. Regarding those mysteries, it is nostalgic to be an onlooking detective again in the Sherlock Holmes universe. Seeing drawn panels makes the hunt for clues all that more fun. Whatever predictable reveal there may be, enjoying a mystery genre in this format is always a treat.
However, maybe I’m not giving this series enough credit. After all, it’s only the first 3 chapters. We get a good exposition of what the main character is capable of and how he is leagues beyond what the ordinary person could do. Staying true to the original work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Moriarty’s intellect and powers of deductive reasoning are on another level. Seeing them being used in this medium does a wonderful service to the character. It makes you wonder what the story has in mind for Sherlock.
Moriarty isn’t the only one who stands out, of course. Moriarty, the Patriot Vol.1, provides us with some interesting antagonists and supporting roles. Through the villains, we learn more about the structure of the social order, the very structure Moriarty is trying to take down. Above the aristocracy’s surface, we learn to sympathize with Moriarty’s goals and get to decide for ourselves whether the course of action was right or not. The supporting characters remind us of the influence The Professor has over people and demonstrate how charming he can be. The chapter cover art teases us with characters we have yet to meet but look too intriguing to not think about. Overall, the cast of people in this manga is not crowded and helps propel the story forward in interesting and creative ways.
Moriarty’s art style, the Patriot Vol.1, personally didn’t fit my usual repertoire of manga style. The writing, however, makes up for it immensely. It is clean and makes great use of the space of movement. You expect because it is a mystery genre, the dialogue would be heavy and overwhelming. Although there are wordy pages, it didn’t feel like a chore. There is a pretty good balance; I’m am thoroughly impressed and satisfied. The artist’s attention to facial expressions and body language play their own parts in delivering a dynamic layer to all three chapters. Each chapter’s cover art is wonderfully shaded and makes me wonder if there are color versions out there.
There hasn’t been an interpretation quite like Moriarty The Patriot. I love to root for the villain, and dramatic spins on old stories are my sauce. Moriarty is a very confident, complex, and powerful character to tackle. One can only be as clever as the character they are trying to embody. To take on the challenge of writing such a brutal and bold figure is something that I respect and look forward to seeing done in the future. I can only hope for some truly inspiring storytelling with the limelight on one of the most nefarious villains in literary history. So the question arises then, will I be coming back for more? The answer to that is quite elementary, absolutely.
Moriarty The Patriot Volume 1: Review
Moriarty the Patriot Volume 1
Professor Moriarty, comes up with a plan with his family and friends to rid the world of the British Empire's classism and gross inequality. A unique spin on a classic villain captivates readers on a mystery filled adventure.