Sherlock Holmes stories have entertained readers since Sir Author Conan Doyle’s character was introduced in 1887. The detective has solved numerous mysteries and faced some of literature’s smartest villains. The most notorious of Holmes’ nemesis has to be Professor Moriarty, the “Napoleon of Crime” as the great detective called him. The battle between these two has been used in stories and parodies by other authors for over a century. A new story from that world, Moriarty, Volume 1, The Dark Chamber from Image Comics hits shelves this week. By a self-proclaimed “lifelong Holmes fan,” Daniel Corey, the trade paperback is the stylish tale of a much older Moriarty being drawn into the hunt for a new criminal mastermind bent on causing serious mayhem in London and claiming the crown of greatest criminal mastermind that the Professor used to hold.
The book combines four individual issues released earlier this summer and has extra pages chronicling the design, story, and some additional artwork involved in bringing this character back to readers. Corey’s take on the era is very true to the times. The gloomy feel of that region and places like the dark alley ways are illustrated really well by Anthony Diecedue. The story happens 20 years after the death of Sherlock Holmes. Moriarty’s greatest foe is gone, his criminal brilliance and skills are wasted on the law enforcement these days, and the world is advancing around him. Moriarty has removed himself from notoriety and let his legend live on. All is going fine until a new criminal takes the spotlight and aims to be bigger than Moriarty ever was. A mysterious group, the disappearance of Mycroft Holmes (the detective’s brother), a powerful weapon, with acquaintances and enemies from Moriarty’s past all make up this adventure that has him racing against time to stop this new threat. Dr. Watson and Inspector Lestrade make appearances throughout the story as well. Although Moriarty is fighting an evil foe, that does not make him the good guy.
I too am a Sherlock Holmes fan. I remember reading the books as a kid and thinking how great it would be to solve crimes with such intelligence. Moriarty was not a steady character in those adventures, but his intelligence and skill made him a great part of the Holmes legends. To see him in his own story was intriguing and I could not help but grab each issue as they were released. The idea of telling a story from the darker side of a tale has become more common in recent years with stories like Wicked (the witches of the Wizard of Oz), Dr. Horrible, or Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty from the witches perspective). In Daniel Corey’s story we see a villain working as a hero but not with the same moral values that the latter would have. Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty are very similar individuals, both with great IQs and the ability to deduce facts very well. Through the dialogue in this comic it is easy to see how Moriarty was able to hold his own against Holmes and why the Professor is the best man to hunt down the new threat to London. There are no superpowers; in fact, Corey does well to keep the character realistic and show Moriarty’s age throughout the story and the effect that has on the chase. Each individual issue left me wanting more (or wishing there was a trade with the complete story already). The story goes quickly, no panels are wasted on boring, extra dialogue to fill space and still the book is big (128 pages). The coloring and style to the artwork fits the world of Moriarty so perfectly. The art is not smooth, colored in panels; there is a rough look to all the characters and dark tones to represent the “darker side” of humanity being shown. I was impressed with the landscapes and amount of ground covered throughout the story too; it was very evident that Moriarty was on a chase to hunt down his foe. Corey and Diecedue combined story and art to make an astounding new mark on the Sherlock Holmes mythology while honoring the original work of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Daniel Corey appeared at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles, California last night and spoke with AJ from Forbidden Panel for an interview (check it out below). He is also currently working on the next volume of Moriarty stories. Moriarty, Volume 1 – The Dark Chamber is available now at your local comic book shop.