Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 80: <i>Moriarty</i> #7

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today's page is from Moriarty #7, which was published by Image and is cover dated December 2011. Enjoy!

Daniel Corey, the writer of Moriarty, is telling a grand story, but he doesn't forget that this might be someone's first issue of the series, so he gives us a somewhat text-heavy page. He's also leading us into an extended, issue-long flashback, so he wants us all caught up before he flings us 30 years into the past. Professor Moriarty gives us the general shape of the arc - he's in Burma, violence is imminent, there's a tree involved, and someone named "Blair" knows that he's not who he says he is, implying that he's told people he's someone other than the infamous "Napoleon of Crime." "Blair," of course, is Eric Arthur Blair, more famously known as George Orwell, and while the dates of Moriarty's sojourn in Burma don't quite match up with when Orwell was there (according to this comic, it's not too long after 1914, but Orwell wasn't actually in Burma until 1922 and was, in fact, 11 years old in 1914), we can forgive it. In the second panel, Moriarty begins to "reflect," and while it's heavy-handed, at least it gets us into the story quickly and sets up the entire flashback.

Anthony Diecidue draws this page and the final page of the issue, while Mike Vosburg handles the flashback. Diecidue does some interesting things on this page. First of all, he gives us the sun directly behind the professor. It's not clear whether it's the rising or setting sun, but either way, it's dramatic, and it places Moriarty in the light while effectively blocking out the soldiers and Blair in front of him. Back-lighting is always dramatic, of course, and in this case, with the title of the arc ("The Lazarus Tree") and Moriarty's intention to be "reborn," it plays into the religious subtext of the entire arc. Moriarty is haloed and dominant, while the soldiers and Blair - inferior to Moriarty, in his eyes - are in the semi-darkness. Diecidue colors the panel well, with gray dominating the scene, making the sun even more noticeable. In the second panel, Diecidue pulls the old trick of zooming in on Moriarty's eyes to indicate that we're heading into flashback mode. It's a cliché, but that's fine - it works. Diecidue narrows Moriarty's eyes, which not only shows that he's concentrating but also connotes a level of evil inside our "hero." Moriarty is a schemer, and just by narrowing his eyes, Diecidue is able to show that he's always looking for an angle, even when he's thinking about his past.

It's interesting to see that, even after so many years of comic-bookery, some things can't be improved upon. This isn't a revolutionary page, but Corey and Diecidue do a very good job both manipulating the reader and stating things outright when manipulation wouldn't work. Corey lures the reader in, and Diecidue makes sure that we ease into the flashback. That's not bad!

Next: I can't defend the fact that I own this comic. I apologize! If you want to check out some good comics, don't forget the archives!

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