Moriarty the Patriot is a manga series based on the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Moriarty The Patriot Volume One
Written by: Ryosuke Takeuchi
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: October 6, 2020
This volume of Moriarty the Patriot establishes the character of James Moriarty, who we know from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories is the arch-enemy of Sherlock Holmes. This volume is split into three sections, with the first section focusing on James’ childhood. We see that he’s a smart kid, but is treated horribly by most of the members of the noble family who took him and his younger brother, Louis, in. The only family member to truly be nice to the brothers is Albert, the oldest son of the Moriarty family. Not only are they treated horribly by most of the family, but James also comes to develop a hatred for the class structure in England and the society that he lives in. By the end of this first section, though, the reader already sees James executing his first “perfect crime,” and utilizing Louis and Albert as his accomplices. Here, we can see that even when he was young, James was not only bright, he was also deadly. Killing off most of a family and burning down a house would certainly qualify as evil.
Thirteen years later, James moves to the city of Durham, and at the age of 21 is already a professor of mathematics at Durham University. At this point, he also has a side business as a private consultant. James and his brothers have bought a manor in the city for what would have been considered cheap at the time. After hearing about how Baron Dublin, the owner of the other manor in town, is treating the townspeople who rent his lands, James and his brothers decide to starting doing things to improve the lives of the townspeople who rent their lands… much to this dismay of Baron Dublin. In this section, we get to see James pulling off a “perfect crime” to help someone else instead of improving his own situation. As we see in this story, as well as in the last section of this volume, Takeuchi tries to make James a sympathetic character and to make his motivations appear to be honorable. In other words, he’s trying to “humanize” a character who is normally viewed as a villain.
The third and final story in this volume lets the reader see James at his job at the university, but he discovers something is happening to one of his students. After piecing things together, he pulls off another “perfect crime” even though no one requested his services. Here, Takeuchi is trying to show that James is someone who cares about other people, although in the middle of the crime in this story, he seems to be taking a little too much delight in what’s going on.
It seems to me that Moriarty the Patriot is aiming to take a well-known villain and attempts to make him look more like a “good guy.” I think it’s a fascinating idea to take a character such as James Moriarty and try to portray him in a different light. Instead of simply looking like a villain, he is given depth and motivation for why he pulls off his “perfect crimes.” A lot of what he does isn’t necessarily good, but Takeuchi tries to make these morally questionable actions feel more justified with the character development and motivation that have been included in the story for this version of James Moriarty.
This volume is a prequel to what readers would be familiar with from the original stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I wonder if this entire manga series will serve as a prequel, or if Takeuchi will eventually progress to stories that feature Sherlock Holmes.
I thought that Moriarty the Patriot Volume One does a great job of establishing the characters and the world that they inhabit. Having some explanations of the history and structure of life in this time period were helpful. It feels like a strong beginning for a manga series, and I can’t wait to be able to read the next volume of Moriarty the Patriot in order to find out how James’ story will continue to evolve.