It has never been a hotter time to be a fan of Sherlock Holmes. The old chap now has two blockbuster Hollywood movies. Plus, Sherlock has a highly rated and successful BBC television series. The only thing he is missing is a comic book.
His mortal enemy Professor James Moriarty is brilliantly featured in his own series published by Image comics called, what else, Moriarty. It is the beginning of the 20th century, the dawn of World War 1, Sherlock Holmes has been dead for twenty years, and Moriarty has been drafted into service by MI5.
This issue is part four of the storyline called The Lazarus Tree. A full-scale riot breaks out in the streets of Kyauktada, and the British authorities sweep in to take control. The mystery begins to unravel, and Moriarty becomes aware of the lurking threat of Moran’s sniper rifle hunting him in the shadows.
The characterization of Moriarty is brilliant. He is essentially an evil Sherlock Holmes. He sees common details that people miss, he is a brilliant doctor, and he is even a brilliant professor, dealing with concepts and theories that are way beyond his time. The major problem with the character is that even though he interesting; the writing never truly gives us a reason to like him.
In fact, the only time that I seemed to care about Moriarty was in a well crafted scene where he talks to the ghost of Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes himself is a character that has a hard time existing without an equal foil like Moriarty. So Moriarty without his nemesis comes across as flat.
The artwork by Anthony Diecidue is very scratchy in rough. Pencil strokes and lines are thrown around the page as if it was drawn in a rush. It gives the comic a very interesting look, raw and bold. Although at many times, characters have a hard time keeping a consistent look throughout the book. There were several times that I had to do a double take to make sure I wasn’t seeing Wolverine instead of Professor Moriarty himself.
Daniel Corey has crafted an interesting concept. The problem with the Lazarus Tree arc is that there is no compelling reason to care about Moriarty. Plus, I have never been a big fan of mixing magic or mysticism with any part of Sherlock Holmes lore. Where this book takes off and soars is anytime it mentions Sherlock Holmes.
Another great scene in the book is when we have a great cameo by one of Sherlock’s best friends, paging Dr. Watson! If this book changes and veers towards the idea of Moriarty having to bring Sherlock back to life, and then the two of them working together then I am there! Imagine the powder keg of ideas that concept could create. Sherlock and Moriarty as a crime fighting duo would be amazing. Sadly, Moriarty #8 is not. This issue is intriguing in places, and a confusing mess during the rest. Hopefully as a collected edition, these tales will read better.
Moriarty #8 Grade: C-