I’m posting this on Boxing Day, December 26. One of the associations of Boxing Day is the wealthy people kn England giving boxes of stuff to tradesmen and their servants on the day after Christmas.
Which is actually a fun segue way for me to talk about a Manga series I’ve been reading, Moriarty the Patriot. Because the distinction between classes in Victorian England is a major element in the series.
And, yes, it’s a reimaging of Sherlock Holmes. I don’t think even Cthulhu has as many reimagings as Sherlock Holmes.
In Moriarty the Patriot, the actual goal of Moriarty isn’t crime but social revolution. Moriarty wants to end the aristocracy’s abusive relationship with the common people.
The series is also hilariously full of Bishōnen, pretty androgynous men. In fact, one of the most prominent female characters transitions to male so the Bishōnen count just keeps growing.
The two questions I find myself asking about Moriarty the Patriot are ‘Is it a good story?’ and ‘Is it a good Sherlock Holmes story?’ The answer to the first is a solid yes but I don’t know about the second.
Part of that problem is that there have been so many adaptations, revisions, pastiches, etc of Sherlock Holmes and their world. According to IMBd, almost 350 actors have played Holmes and that’s not even getting into novels, short stories, comic books, web comics and lord knows what other media. It’s crazy.
I’ve asked myself how big a difference just changing all the names would make to Moriarty the Patriot. And, despite having adaptions of specific stories like the Hound of Baskervilles and A Scandal in Bohemia, I’m not not sure it would make a big difference.
William James Moriarty is a really fun character. Yes, he is ridiculously brilliant. On top of that, he has amazing physical skills. He’s Batman without the mask. At the same time, he will sacrifice anything, particularly himself, to make the world better. All of his dreams have an undercurrent of self destruction.
Amusingly, his brothers are Louis James Moriarty and Albert James Moriarty. The three together are the composite James Moriarity, Napoleon of Ctime. And, while William is the most crazy awesome one, the other two are no slouches. If William is Batman, they are Nightwings.
Sherlock Holmes, on the other hand, is really only interesting for me when he’s dealing with the brothers. When he gets his own story arcs, the story drags for me. I think I’ve just seen so many versions of Holmes that this one doesn’t bring anything new to the table while this version of James Moriarty is actually different.
(Holmes does speak in a cockney accent. I once read a short story where Holmes is a brash, underclass cockney who tells Watson to write him as a stiff upper crust or no one will believe it. And I can’t figure out where I read that or wrote it! Does anyone reading this know?)
Moriarty the Patriot is a very postmodern work. I mean, a major character is transitioning isn’t something I’d see in Victorian era work. The social views are also very 21st century. Some of the conspiracy theories would seem bonkers if it wasn’t for some of the real life conspiracies out there.
If you approach Moriarty the Patriot not as a Sherlock Holmes story or a story about Victorian England but as a very 21st cebtury story about social issues with a Victorian backdrop, it’s worth reading.