In Review: Sherlock Holmes: Moriarty Lives #1

The covers: The Main cover is by Francesco Francavilla with the title character in top and coat. This is a classy looking image of this villain and looks as if he’d fit into Victorian tale well. This is good but there’s nothing outstanding about it. There’s a Variant cover by interior artist Daniel Indro that I liked much better. This features Moriarty bursting out of the water to take a breath, obviously after the end of the classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story “The Final Problem.” I love this! It’s like the birth of this book before us! Overall grades: Main B and Variant A

The story: Now this was an unexpected tale! Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis has survived his plummet from Reichenbach Falls and floats with the assistance of a log to a town downstream. He realizes he needs dry clothing and spots an individual whose shoes, among other items, he could fill nicely. Writer David Liss has beautifully captured the voice of this villain in speech and internal dialogue. What he says on Pages 4 and 5 has go to be the vilest thing I’ve heard a character utter all year. His internal comments at the top of 6 solidified this character completely. Something occurs at the bottom of this same page that foreshadows where this story is going, but it’s put aside for food and shelter. Page 10 was splendid in making this man friendly and flirtatious, but it was always with a seed of danger behind every comment. That threat comes forward on Page 12 and 13. The arrival of an individual on Page 15 completely changes the tone of this book. An action occurs on 17 that shocked me. It will either be a wonderful surprise to a reader or a jumping the shark moment. I’ve read many alternative stories featuring Holmes encountering many unbelievable characters or situations (most being recently reprinted as Titan Books’ The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series) and found them enjoyable, but his action went to level 10 quickly. I’m intrigued to say the least, but I don’t know how I feel with this element in this series, as I wasn’t close to expecting this. Conflicted as I was, the final page was an even unlikelier situation I’d expected to find the professor in. Liss has got me puzzling what’s next, but I can’t fully give this book the seal of approval in the story without reading at least one more issue. Overall grade: B

The art: This is wonderful work by Daniel Indro. I went into this expecting turn of the century European settings with a title character looking threatening and Indro delivered handily. The opening page of Reichenbach Falls was lush and the rapids Moriarty rode terrific. The village our lead goes to is expertly detailed and its populace looks great. This is no formulaic drawing anywhere: each structure and person is fully realized. When Moriarty gets his first close-up on Page 3 you can feel the feel the evil resonating from him. The incident that occurs at the bottom of 6 was very well done and immediately indicated that all was not right in this tow. The tavern was also well done, as were its patrons and the person who enters on 9 was great! The look given in the final panel on 10 was a thing of beauty. I also liked Indro’s action; it’s very fluid and brutal, as murder is. Only two actions stick out to me: Pages 17 and 18. I know of no other way they could have been illustrated, but it was (Heck, still is) hard to look at them without hearing John Williams music. This was due to major nerd background and they might not effect you in the same way. All in all, Indro is an exceptional artist. Overall grade: A

 The colors: This book has a very European coloring scheme to it. Now, Duh, I know the book is set in Europe, but this doesn’t have the bright colors that one usually sees in American comics. Instead, a lot of faded violets and roses abound, especially in the first six pages. In the tavern yellow is added to the palate and it’s used thereafter often. Josan Gonzalez does an excellent job and I look forward to upcoming issues to see what else he’ll do. Overall grade: A

The letters: Nine sound effects, dialogue, and a ton of narration comes courtesy of Joshua Cozine who does well. Overall grade: A

The final line: I’m enjoying the visuals but I’m still undecided on the story. As Holmes would say, via William Shakespeare, “The game is afoot,” and I plan on seeing where this criminal will go next. Overall grade: A-


Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for a few years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” He had to give that up to teach 8th graders English for 19 years. He’s since moved to a high school where he’s taught 9th grade and currently teaches 10th graders English. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars or Indiana Jones items online.

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