I've been thinking about this subject lately and thought I'd make a thread here to discuss the topic of age appropriate content in comics.
Both of the "big two" publishers are every bit as guilty in this, so this isn't an exercise in finger pointing.
The thing that really got me thinking about this was the latest issue of Daredevil which came out this past Wednesday. Issue #507. In it Matt has a pretty intense battle with a squad of ninja assassins. Now. Don't get me wrong. I love me some Daredevil and I love me some ninja action. But this issue was particularly brutal, bloody, and violent, and I found myself thinking about who these books are being marketed towards.
Being a guy in his 20s, I personally don't have any issue with blood, gore, or violence (or nudity, language, or sex) but these are comics that are sold pretty much everywhere and can be picked up by kids of all ages.
To use an example from the DC side (just to keep things fair), the first two issues of Brightest Day, which is being marketed as a new, brighter direction for the DC universe, has implied child rape followed by a fairly brutal murder in one issue, followed by another very brutal murder in the next issue as a mother beats her family to death with a guitar hero guitar.
Now. Like I said, I personally don't have anything against violence or blood. But it seems irresponsible to me to not have any sort of filtering system in place to keep this sort of content away from children.
And these two books aren't the only example of raw, brutal violence. Take a look at any flagship title, whether it be Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men, or Superman and you will find that basically every mainstream comic in print today contains content that would be considered "R rated" if it were a movie.
I haven't really thought this through enough to have any sort of proposed solution. I'm mostly just thinking about how raw and uncensored mainstream comics have become. The stuff that is in these flagship titles would have been put in a MAX or Vertigo book as little as 5 years ago, and now its mainstream. The need for an adult MAX/Vertigo line is almost nonexistent these days since you're basically getting the same blood and gore content either way.
I realize that there aren't a whole lot of new readers coming into the comics medium, and the majority of the readership are males between the ages of 18 and 40, but that doesn't mean that kids don't read comics. And when you have at least 1 summer blockbuster super-hero movie per year, its very likely that a few kids will want to get into comics. But there isn't a whole lot of content available for that age group.