Review: Moriarty the Patriot, Vol. 1 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ryosuke Takeuchi, and Hikaru Miyoshi

Moriarty the Patriot, Vol. 1 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ryosuke Takeuchi, and Hikaru Miyoshi
VIZ Media (October 2020)
206 pages; $9.99 paperback; $6.99 e-book
Reviewed by Danica Davidson

William James Moriarty was barely in the Sherlock Holmes books, but his position as Holmes’s archenemy and “The Napoleon of Crime” have kept him in people’s imaginations. Over the years he’s been seen in movies, books and other forms of entertainment not made by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. And now he’s the main character in a Japanese manga that’s been made into an anime currently playing in Japan and streaming in America.

VIZ Media is publishing the English version of the manga. The book starts when Moriarty is a boy and shows that even in early childhood he was a genius . . . and very dangerous. The book puts a strong emphasis on how characters view class and classism, and Moriarty was born on the wrong side of the tracks. After being homeless he is sent to an orphanage, and after that he’s adopted by the noble Moriarty family. But his adoptive parents are not shy about their distaste, and young Moriarty becomes part of a plot to murder them.

Then the book jumps to thirteen years later, when Moriarty is a twenty-one-year-old math professor and “crime consultant.” He believes that the world is full of bad people, that a good amount of the bad people are the rich ones, and that he’ll be doing a public service by murdering them. This theme is similar to that of the very successful manga and anime Death Note, where a teenage boy uses a god of death’s notebook to kill people he believes are making the world a bad place. Death Note is known for its twists and turns and its main character’s descent into madness. But so far Moriarty the Patriot keeps a pretty even keel for its plot and Moriarty doesn’t seem to have the complexities of thought the main character in Death Note initially has while struggling with the power of the notebook.

Moriarty helps a woman get revenge on a man who let her son die, and gets involved in a case where a young woman appears to have died in an unfortunate accident. But to keep the story going, of course the real cause of death is much more sinister. While being the villain, Moriarty continues to think of himself as the good guy, and sometimes he does side with the vulnerable and underprivileged. It’s just that the means he uses are brutal and murderous and would be condemned by most people.

The artwork, done by Hikaru Miyoshi, has a smooth look to it. Moriarty is shown as a young, willowy, beautiful man, much more engaging than old imagery from Sherlock Holmes. This was originally published in Shonen Jump, a manga magazine aimed for male readers, though the softness of the character designs lean more toward the aesthetics of shojo, or manga aimed for female readers. The art never looks sinister or creepy, the way horror art sometimes does. The horror is in the actions. This could be a fun book for fans of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who also enjoy the manga medium, or manga readers who like Victorian crime and horror stories.

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