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James Moriarty, also known as M, is the primary antagonist in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume I. He is the former archenemy of Sherlock Holmes and "Napoleon of Crime", while simultaneously being the head of British Intelligence and employer of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.


Early life[]

James Moriarty was recruited by British Intelligence while he was still at university. He excelled at espionage, and as such he was chosen by MI5 to serve as a manufactured crime-lord through whom MI5 could control and monitor the criminal underworld. His agents included Campion Bond and Colonel Sebastian Moran. He later mused that his role as a criminal mastermind took on a life of its own, and it became unclear even to him which of his identities was the real one.[1] He was also regarded as a "universally acclaimed professor of mathematics".[2][3]

Criminal Mastermind[]

As London's crime-lord, he crossed paths with the detective Sherlock Holmes,[1] whom he referred to as his "adversary".[2] The two came face to face on May 4th, 1891, at the Reichenbach Falls, Switzerland. (Holmes' ally, Dr. Watson, had been lured back to Meringen by a ploy of Moriarty's concerning a sick Englishwoman). Moriarty allowed Holmes to write Watson a final letter, which Holmes placed on the rocks with a silver cigarette case and alpenstock. Moriarty likened their situation to a game of chess.

The two fought to the death, and the unarmed Holmes threw Moriarty off the waterfall onto the rocks below. Moriarty somehow survived, though badly injured, and was saved by Campion Bond and Colonel Moran. Moriarty sent Moran off to kill the detective by burying him under boulders, and expressed to Bond that he was surprised that Holmes never realised Moriarty was actually a government agent.

After Reichenbach, he was recalled to Military Intelligence command at Vauxhall Cross in London. He quickly rose through the ranks to become the Director of MI5, despite objections by Mycroft Holmes. Meanwhile, his criminal empire was maintained by underlings such as Moran.[1]

As M[]

In the closing months of 1897, Moriarty (now known by the monogram 'M') summoned Campion Bond to Vauxhall Cross to discuss the threats that would face the British Empire in the twentieth century. Moriarty had become particularly concerned with threats of a supernatural origin, which surprised Campion owing to Moriarty's firm rationalist beliefs. Moriarty felt it wise to prepare for such threats by assembling a team of exceptional individuals, modelled after previous groups assembled in the reigns of Queen Gloriana (Prospero's Men) and King George the Third (Gulliver's Fellowship). Based on a folder of newspaper clippings and appended notes collected over the previous ten years, Moriarty had already selected the five individuals he wanted for the team: Mina Murray (whom Moriarty believed had invaluable experience of the supernatural as well as a determined spirit sufficient to lead the team), Captain Nemo (science pirate), Allan Quatermain (explorer), Henry Jekyll (and his monstrous alter ego, Edward Hyde) and Hawley Griffin (the invisible man). Bond was assigned to recruit them, starting with Murray.[3]

Before July 1898, Britain's supply of Cavorite (a gravity-defying mineral) was stolen from its creator, Selwyn Cavor, by The Doctor, a warlord from China who had become the unquestioned crime king of London's East End.[4][1] The Doctor's theft of the Cavorite, and its ability to create powered flying machines, was a threat both to the British Empire (which Moriarty, as Director of MI5, was sworn to defend) and to Moriarty's criminal empire based in the West End of London.[1]

In order to recover the Cavorite, Moriarty (as M) instructed Campion Bond to assign his group of exceptional individuals (referred to by Moriarty as "freaks") to steal the Cavorite back from the Doctor's base in Limehouse. The group so formed (later officially called the Mark I Murray Group[3]) began their mission. All the while, Murray believed that Bond's superior "M" was in fact Mycroft Holmes.[4]

After the Group sucessfully retrieved the Cavorite (destroying the Doctor's airship in the process), Bond delivered it to Moriarty.[5] Hawley Griffin followed Bond, and spied on his conversation with Moriarty. When Moriarty and Bond took the Cavorite to Moriarty's own airship, which launched later in the evening, Griffin informed the rest of the Murray Group about the true identity of their employer.[1]

From the upper deck, Moriarty guided the airship to bomb Limehouse. The airship was subsequently attacked both by the Doctor's war kites and by the Murray Group. Murray reached the upper deck and attempted to convince Moriarty to stop the bombing, but he merely ordered the Sergeant to "Throw this smelly little lesbian over the side." Before the Sergeant could do this, Quatermain arrived with a machine pistol and killed all of the airship crew, save Moriarty, who managed to shoot Quatermain in turn and disarm him. Moriarty recognised Quatermain, saying that he was "playing out of his league" and that even Moriarty's adversary (Sherlock Holmes) had considered Quatermain a weakling. However, before Moriarty could kill Quatermain by shooting him in the head, Murray smashed the glass holding the Cavorite. Moriarty desperately grabbed the Cavorite, but was unable to control it, and it caused him to fall upwards into the sky, and to space.[2]


After Moriarty's death, Mycroft Holmes became Director of MI5, the new M.[2]

In 1958 , Mother (the new M) kept a bust of Moriarty in his office.[6]

Years later, in 1964, Mina, the Galley-Wag and the Dutch Dolls discovered Professor Moriarty's body still floating in space, frozen in time, when they travelled from earth to the Moon. Later, in order to end a war between the Selenites and the Lunites, Mina convinced the amazons to return the frozen body of Selwyn Cavor (who's sperm they wanted to use by lack of other men) to the Selenites in return for another frozen male, giving them the frozen Moriarty.

Moriarty also has an illegitimate grandchild. Through an unknown illegitimate child, the grandchild Dean Moriarity would later meet Mina Murray and Alan Quartermain in helping to defeat Doctor Sachs (a relative of The Doctor).





Film version[]

In the 2003 film adaptation, Moriarty/M is played by Richard Roxburgh (who coincidentally had only a year before played Sherlock Holmes in a BBC film adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, making him one of few actors to play both Holmes and Moriarty). Moriarty and Dorian Gray were working together to steal the powers of the League, and ultimately succeeded in mass-producing it, only failing to sell their gains.

Moriarty is also the secret identity of The Fantom, a theatrical criminal mastermind, concieved as a Reichstag Fire of sorts to promote a world war. Moriarty claims that his identity as James Moriarty died at Reichenbach Falls.

Source material[]

Professor Moriarty was the nemesis of Sherlock Holmes in the stories by Arthur Conan Doyle. Moriarty was conceived as Holmes' most dangerous foe to allow Doyle to kill off Holmes (though Conan Doyle disliked his Holmes character, he felt it necassary to let him die in a "blaze of glory" vanquishing a major supervillain). Moriarty's first appearance, "The Final Problem", was also his last chronologically, as its features the apparent deaths of both Holmes and Moriarty. Doyle reluctantly brought Holmes back in later stories, revealing that he had been victorious at the Falls but had faked his own death in order to evade Moriarty's agents, specifically Colonel Moran.

Moriarty only directly appeared in one other Holmes story, "The Valley of Fear", which was set earlier and depicted the first time one of Holmes' cases intersected with Moriarty's web of crime.

In the Holmes stories, Moriarty is a mathematical genius who was given the mathematical chair at a small university. He later travelled to London and became the city's greatest crime lord (the "Napoleon of crime").

In "The Final Problem", an illustration of Moriarty was produced by Sydney Paget. The Moriarty in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is based on Paget's original drawing.


Holmes and Moriarty first cross paths when Holmes attempts to prevent Moriarty's agents from committing a murder ("The Valley of Fear"). Sherlock Holmes pursues and begins destroying much of Professor Moriarty's criminal empire. On the verge of delivering a fatal blow to Moriarty's criminal ring, Holmes is forced to flee to the continent to escape Moriarty's retribution. Moriarty follows, and the pursuit ends atop the Reichenbach Falls. Holmes leaves a last letter for his friend Dr Watson, then both Holmes and Moriarty apparently fall to their deaths while locked in mortal combat ("The Final Problem").