Dear Washington Post,
Including “DC Comics: the New 52” in your list of “Top 10 Graphic Novels and Comics of 2012” makes you look stupid and/or disingenuous. It seems like you said to yourself, “Ooh, the fanboys are going to complain about all these highbrow, literary, and even journalistic books we’ve selected. Let’s be sure to throw them a bone, too.”
Which is actually fine. I understand the need to be able to say you have Covered the Field Adequately — and it’s a sure thing that action/adventure stories, and specifically superhero action/adventure stories, are an important part of the commercial comics scene.
There are choices you could have made that would have looked less lazy, that would have demonstrated a far greater understanding of the field and a stronger editorial viewpoint. As it is, it looks like you very carefully and diligently selected most of these books, then Googled to find out what the most-hyped thing that happened to happen in commercial comics was in 2012, and wrote that down.
There are plenty of superhero and/or genre adventure comics you could have picked that are good. It’s not that. It’s that you selected a marketing gimmick rather than a work of art. If you’re really committed to this New 52 thing, you could have narrowed in one one particular New 52 item that you thought was particularly good. I’ve heard the relaunch of Batman by Scott Snyder is brilliant, for example. But you didn’t do any of that.
“The New 52” is not a graphic novel. It is not even a comic. Choosing it is like saying that “The New Deal” was your favorite President, or “Season 2” was your favorite comedian on Saturday Night Live. There’s no sense to be made of it.
Most of the other 9 items are interesting, and some of them I hadn’t heard of before now. The “Pearls Before Swine” collection, though it’s probably good, also looks like an example of tokenism (“D’oh! We’ve got to include at least one newspaper strip to make it seem like we understand the whole field!”) But at least it is a discrete item of artistic effort, and a critically acclaimed one at that — and not a corporate marketing gimmick.