I was a bit apprehensive about diving right into Moriarty the Patriot since I don’t possess much background knowledge when it comes to Sherlock Holmes - at least outside of the BBC’s modern interpretation anyway. However, this manga serves as an original origin story for Moriarty, the boy who would grow up to be Sherlock Holmes’ arch nemesis, and that’s all you really need to know.
Even if I didn’t know anything about Moriarty beforehand, he is a fascinating character. He’s well-mannered, clever, and possesses an underlying foreboding aura which hovers just below the surface, threatening to break the tension at any moment. As an orphaned child Moriarty became a jack-of-all-trades, which is explained by his time spent living in an abandoned library and reading its multitude of books. This reservoir of knowledge serves him well as he grows up.
Moriarty and his brother, Louis, called the library home before a rich, aristocratic family adopted the brothers out of charity. However, the family has only been putting up a front and the boys suffer emotional and physical abuse because of it. Moriarty may have applied his talents to good had they never come to live with the family. You can just feel his personality twisting while living in the home. The one kind soul in the household is the eldest brother, Albert, who’s the reason Moriarty and Louis were taken in. Albert wants to put Moriarty’s talents to use, and a series of events will lead to the boys’ motivation to abolish the class system in which they are all forced to live…no matter the cost.
It’s a grandiose scheme and Moriarty, Albert, and Louis feel the weight of the ever present question, “Would you be able to kill for the sake of an ideal?” Therein lies the story’s most intriguing set up, with what I’ll call a reverse-mystery. Whereas readers usually start at the scene of the crime, with detectives trying to piece together the who, why, and where, in Moriarty the Patriot the victim is alive and well. However, you know their death is inevitable, but how will the trio pull it off and not get caught? You’re left guessing how said person will end up dead…it’s like living in the calm before the hurricane hits…until the trio succeeds. With various upper-crust targets in sight, Moriarty’s sense of “justice” continues to hide behind his calm, cool demeanor, but cracks in his venire are bound to show up sooner or later. I’m looking forward to seeing his eccentrics emerge.
So for those of you who love a good mystery, or anyone who is infatuated with the tension that accompanies anything that goes bump-in-the-night, I’d highly recommend Moriarty the Patriot. This first volume is a well-balanced blend that divides its time between introducing the characters and playing through a few reverse-mysteries. Between Moriarty’s cunning personality and Albert’s privileged backing, this story has some real potential to cement itself in Sherlockian lore! Plus an anime is currently streaming too so there’s no better time to get your thinking caps on!
Moriarty the Patriot Manga Volume 1
The untold story of Sherlock Holmes’ greatest rival, Moriarty!
Before he was Sherlock’s rival, Moriarty fought against the unfair class caste system in London by making sure corrupt nobility got their comeuppance. But even the best-intentioned plans can spin out of control—will Moriarty’s dream of a more just and equal world turn him into a hero…or a monster?
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!