Many of us are aware of the events of Reichenbach Falls - of that final clash between Holmes and Moriarty as chronicled in "The Adventure of the Final Problem" [FINA] and "The Adventure of the Empty House" [EMPT]. But for many Sherlockians, there is a darker variation that they will not - or dare not - consider:
What if Moriarty was the victor at Reichenbach Falls? What if the Great Detective fell that fateful day and the Napoleon of Crime stood triumphant?
That is the premise behind Image Comics' new Moriarty series, written by Daniel Corey and drawn by Anthony Diecidue, and is now three issues into its inaugural arc, "The Dark Chamber". It is also, for Sherlockians, a great modern style "what if" take not on Holmes, but on his nemesis.
We begin the story twenty years after Moriarty's triumph - he is living in relative seclusion, preferring to remain in the shadows. He is recruited by British intelligence on a unique mission - to locate the missing Mycroft Holmes....and if you think this is going to be another Holmesian pastiche, think again. Corey's writing provides a great mix of modern storytelling style with a working knowledge of the canon, creating a fully plausible "what if" scenario. (There is a scene of deduction in the first issue that not only connotes Moriarty's standing with Holmes, but is also one of the best written sequences I have read in awhile). There are some interesting twists and turns (without spoiling, there's a surprise cameo in # 2), and although the series takes a more science fiction-style turn, this is a pretty solidly written comic. For traditional Sherlockians, it may not have an easy appeal, but may be good for transitioning younger members into the canon.
My only real objection is with Diecidue's art - perhaps it's a bias on my part, but it looks too modern. (Moriarty appears to have jumped out of modern production). It tends to have a slightly jarring effect - unlike Moffatt's Victorian-character-in-modern-times, a modern-take-on-Victorian-character, art wise, doesn't quite seem to fit. It is a slightly acquired taste, admittedly, but Diecidue does have a great ability to drive atmosphere forward in his art.
Writer Corey is no stranger to the canon - for more information, please listen his podcast interview with my fellow Comic Related scribe Russell Burlingame. With Moriarty, he uses the canon as a jumping-off point to tell a more modern story....and quite frankly, it's one of the better Holmes pastiches.
The first three issues have been released, and can be found at your local comics store.
Editor's note: Gordon regularly covers the intersection of Sherlock Holmes and the entertainment industry. You can also find him at Blog THIS, Pal! and Comic Related.