Moriarty Vol. 1: The Dark Chamber (Image)

This alternate history tale takes a trip into the mind of Sherlock Holmes’ most dastardly foe.



128 pgs., color; $14.99
(W: Daniel Corey; A: Anthony Diecidue)
I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes geek, so how could I resist a comic book series featuring Holmes’ favorite archenemy, Professor James Moriarty? I couldn’t, of course, and neither could a lot of other people, because Daniel Corey and Anthony Diecidue’s Moriarty was successfully funded on Kickstarter and the first issue quickly sold out. The first four issues are available as a collection (nine issues are out so far, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves) and while I wouldn’t say the series is absolute perfection, it’s very good and sure to interest fans of all things Sherlockian.
The Moriarty series is based on an alternative history within the Holmes universe (assuming you can have alternate histories within fictional universes) in which Holmes dies at Reichenbach Falls but Moriarty survives. Bereft of a worthy opponent, the Doctor returns to London in 1914 under the pseudonym “Trumbold” and becomes a sort of Sherlock Holmes of the underworld. It’s a nice concept—becoming like the person you most oppose—and allows Corey to develop an interesting fictional world drawing on real history (the Black Hand society, Mata Hari), pulp fiction conventions (a dragon lady/martial arts expert named Jade), science fiction (a mysterious box with untold powers), the Sherlockian universe (Watson, Mycroft Holmes) and a whole lot of philosophy and intellectual history.
There’s so much in the first four issues that the story can become muddled, but most of what Corey comes up with is so cool that I don’t really care. My favorite part of this comic is not the action sequences, however, but the times when Corey takes us inside Moriarty’s mind. The Doctor is a frequent narrator of his own life, and his thoughts, presented in lettering resembling the output of an old-fashioned typewriter, show the Doctor to be quite full of himself but also a serious thinker (well, he would have to be, to have been a worthy opponent to Holmes). Take his opening narration: “We all create small rooms for ourselves—dark places where we curl up and hide like little children, seeking solace from the outside world. Despite our best efforts, it is there that our personal dragons prey on us.” Doesn’t that sound like it belongs in a 1930s Universal horror classic? (And I mean that in the best possible way, of course.)
Anthony Diecidue goes for an eclectic, deliberately cartoonish look in the art for this series—dominant facial characteristics are exaggerated almost to the point of caricature (well, maybe past that point now and then)—an approach that matches the high-pulp/adventure movie feel of the story. He’s pretty imaginative with his layouts also, and for the most part they work well—one exception was a two-page spread where some of the dialogue disappeared into the binding, but I guess that could have been due to a production problem.
Despite my misgivings regarding the propensity for this series to try to do a bit too much, I’m eager to keep reading (and it could be the basis for one hell of a movie as well). This collection is not generous with extras, but does include a page of sketches for cover concepts and another page of initial character sketches. You can see a preview of the first two issues here: | Sarah Boslaugh

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