Comic books find their roots in superpowered people flying around in tights and masks, so it's no surprise that the superhero genre dominates the comic book industry. However, that long history of success is due in part to an underlying psychology that permeates the nature of superhero storytelling.
Most superhero comics are based on the psychological concept of the adolescent power fantasy. Adolescents are peaking physically and mentally, but they maintain a secondary importance in society. Through superhero comics, the young reader can live vicariously through a character with greater powers than the most powerful person in the reader's own world.
The hero becomes an instrument through which the reader can work out the frustration of being powerless. Of course, superhero comics' psychological attraction wouldn't be complete without a means of expressing that power. Without a powerful villain, the hero is unable to demonstrate his superiority.
The power-fantasy aspect of superhero comics is neither a limitation nor an insult to the quality of the storytelling. Rather, it merely reinforces one crucial factor in creating great comic book stories: Superheroes are symbolic. If you look past the masks and capes, you can often find powerful drama and fascinating concepts.
The average age of the comic book reader is rising above the age of adolescence. Furthermore, a greater number of women are becoming comic book fans. Whether this is an extension of our feelings of powerlessness in modern society remains to be proven. However, one thing is obvious: To be successful today, comics must appeal to an older, more diverse audience than ever before.