Professor James Moriarty, the “Napoleon of Crime” and the arch-nemesis of Sherlock Holmes, is one of the most iconic villains in fiction. And that’s always been a little odd.
As any die-hard Sherlockian could tell you, if you go strictly by "the Canon" — the four Sherlock Holmes novels and 56 short stories written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — Moriarty is not all that important. Referenced in the novel The Valley of Fear and a few later short stories, Moriarty only really appears in 'The Adventure of the Final Problem', where he does what he was created to do: kill off Holmes so Doyle wouldn’t have to write him anymore. Obviously, this didn’t last.
Moriarty really only gained his mythic status and place as Holmes’ rival through later adaptations in radio, film, TV and of course comics. For their part, outside of direct Canon adaptions, comics have tended to portray Moriarty as an antihero.