Interesting, thought provoking article here.
Building off what you’ve already said, I think that due that the direct market and the end comics authority code have allowed comics to shift to an older market. I’m part of that crop of boys who never stopped reading comics, and there are a lot of us. In general, the market seems grim and gritty.
What happened is that comics became a lot less “fun.” And there’s obviously not a lot of money in “fun” books, because Marvel and DC would be making more of them.
I, for one, miss this. I like “Ms Marvel” and “Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur” as fun titles. I’m not a fan of silly stories, but these do a good job of presenting stories with kid appropriate situations and jeopardy.
I have kids of my own, and they are far more sophisticated than I was at their age. But that said, I still don’t feel like there are a lot of good entry level comics for kids. There’s a full run of Gotham Adventures in my daughter’s room right now.