A recent Crosstalk asked a really good question: Are Superhero Comics Played Out? It's a question I've asked myself over the years and my answer has always been yes. As a matter of fact, it's a big reason why I don't read them. I think, "how many times do I want to read about Spider-Man's origin, certain X-Men members dying and resurrecting, Marvel/DC crossovers, et al?" This stuff may be played out to me, but that's OK. I think there's a fundamental reason why superheroes stick around and should stick around.
I can't speak for people my age who still read superhero books, but I will say new generations of kids are always getting into comics. And they don't always want to read a reprint from the Sixties bound in a trade paperback. So, reintroducing an iconic hero is going to happen over and over again for the foreseeable future.
With my own experience, as campy as the Super Friends and Spider-Man cartoons were, they got me into superheroes, which in part, led me to comics. But comics were sold in dirty little stores where scraggly old men and young weirdos worked -- so my mother and I thought -- so I only went once. I never went back to one until I was in college and realized that my original perception was a tad off. Regardless, I was satisfied with the cartoons and movies between my trip to get the Buckaroo Banzai comic and the trip to get some of Kevin Smith's comics.
The way I see it, the idea of the superhero should be introduced at a young age. Superheroes have a good influence on kids. They did on my life, but I simply reached a point where superhero comics didn't do anything for me anymore. I can still be moved by the relatively-recent Superman and Batman live-action movies, yet keeping up with the comic series seems like I've seen and read the same old story before.
Plus, the abundance of obnoxious fanboys pretty much keeps me away from comic book stores. Not all fanboys are obnoxious, but there are plenty who are and it sucks. And I think about kids who go to the comic book shop for the first time and get a mouthful from one of them standing at the counter. Just being around someone who gives you grief for buying something he or she vocally abhors takes the fun out of discovering something for the first time. Chances are good a kid buying his or her's first issue of Spider-Man will not understand the supreme awesomeness of Watchmen and The Dark Knight. But that doesn't mean the person never will.
The point I'm going with this is, superheroes, no matter how played out they are, are essential to comics. They are synonymous with what most people think comics are and I find nothing wrong with that. I might not read them in comic form anymore, but that doesn't mean the idea of the superhero means less to me. I'm more inclined to read Box Office Poison, Torso or Dumped because they are closer to what I'm interested in now. I guess it's like what Halloween means to me now: when I was younger, it was about getting candy and dressing up in a costume. Now, it's about giving away candy and being nice to kids . . . all while I watch Halloween and Student Bodies later in the evening. In other words, it's a matter of taste changing with maturity.