Moriarty the Patriot reimagines Sherlock Holmes canon to look back at the origin and early years of his nemesis Professor James Moriarty. It depicts the young Moriarty and his two brothers as upper-class bishonen out to wage war against the English nobility for their abuse and exploitation of the poor and working classes.
Writer Ryosuke Takeuchi and artist Hikaru Miyoshi acknowledge the original old, balding wizened Moriarty, who encounters Sherlock Holmes decades in the future but introduces a retcon to his origin with a nod and a wink. Louis and James Moriarty are orphans that Albert Moriarty persuaded his father to adopt as an act of charity, much to the jealousy of Lord Moriarty's venal wife and son. Even the servants, totally invested in the class hierarchy, treat the two orphan boys with contempt. Young Lord Albert has an agenda in taking the two boys into his family – James is a genius and wants to smash the entire British class system and bring it crashing down. And Albert, who hates his family and his class, wants to help him make it happen. A bit of righteous murder, burning down the family estate with father, mother, brother, and the cruel servants in it, and Albert and his two adopted brothers inherit the family fortune, enough to set them up for the mission of their lives
The first stories in the series are about setting up the cast and getting the band together for the first time. Moriarty gets a job as a professor at the prestigious Durham University while also offering his services as a "crime consultant." He offers his services to working-class people who want justice for the horrors done to them by the aristocrats. James, Louise, and Albert gather their assistants and allies to avenge murders, undercut landlords, and totally get away with it. Moriarty's specialty is to plan and enact the perfect crime where he and his clients get away scot-free. You can see he's well on his way to becoming the future "Napoleon of Crime" that Arthur Conan Doyle created in the stories.
Japan boasts some of the biggest Sherlock Holmes fans in the world, and fandom loves retcons and fanfiction of all kinds. Of course, the Japanese would reimagine Moriarty as a bishonen, aka, androgynous, beautiful boy! What sets this manga retcon apart is its political anger and class warfare. There are plenty of manga and anime that take a leftist political stance, but very few that wears its "EAT THE RICH!" rage on its sleeve the way Moriarty the Patriot does from the get-go. You wonder if Doyle would roll over in his grave or look on in amused approval at this… probably the former.
It has a hotly anticipated anime series premiering this month. A preview of its pilot episode featured a story that takes place later in the series when Moriarty and his crime consultancy business are already in full swing. It retains the tone of class warfare and anger of the manga and promises to be a wild ride this season. It's dark, nasty, and bracingly political.