And my second thought was this: are adults similarly inspired by comics today?
In today's world, I think not. Fifty years ago? You be the judge:
Justice League of America #15, 1962
Could you honestly see anyone over the age of ten writing a letter like this to DC? This guy is talking about hope, faith, justice, a belief that humanity can improve itself. Now all I see when I look at the world is snark, cynicism, and complacency.
There was an exhibit of comics books at the Yale Law Library highlighting superheroes in court, lawyers, and the law, in which one of the lawyers interviewed stated that comic books inspired him to become a defense attorney (whose specialty is defending spies, to boot.)
What are modern comics inspiring us to become? What do superheroes fight against and what do they stand for, if anything? I don't know if any hero believes in anything besides "stop the bad guy." Have superheroes ever fought any domestic evils like corruption, organized crime, or just your run-of-the-mill mugger in recent years? To me, it seems that these crimes are too small for big-time superheroes to be bothered with. I'm not suggesting another "Hard Traveling Heroes," but a simple change in perspective once in a while to show how regular people are inspired (or not) by their hometown heroes.
And where have all of comics' supporting characters gone? The lawyers? The cops? The city mayors? The regular citizens who looked up in the sky or out beyond the stars for their heroes? Why must cops become costumed vigilantes to become "heroes?" (Or become the Spirit of Vengeance for that matter.) Renee Montoya was as heroic as any superhero when she was "just" a detective. And in addition to that, Clark Kent did some heroic things while he was Clark Kent, and so did Bruce Wayne.
I want to believe in something again, DC.