2013's Best Graphic Novels

Perverse heroines and supreme sacrifices in the year's best comics

Among the numerous illustrations for Moore's disquisition is a Depression-era Weird Tales cover depicting a semi-nude lass and a petulant skull. The same image can be found in The Alluring Art of Margaret Brundage (Vanguard, 184 pp., $24.95), a celebration of that rare female artist who rose to the top of a macho field. Brundage's menaced damsels were sleek eye candy, but this book reveals politics —advocating for gender and racial equality as well as labor rights at a time when activism led to blacklisting — that prove that the "Queen of the Pulps" was as brave as any of her titillating heroines.

It would be satisfying to end with an even Top 10 for the year, but Battling Boy (First Second, 208 pp., $15.99), like a Marshall amp, cranks it up to 11. Every kid dreams of being the insouciant hero who saunters into chaos, blasts the monster to cinders, saves a worshipful populace, and snags the hottest babe. Damned if Paul Pope's swashbuckling brushwork and lip-smacking colors don't make that fantasy plausible.

You want aura? Pope's got it to burn.

See Also: Excerpts from the best graphic novels of 2013

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