Comics can't escape the gods they created.
Back in the good old days every raggedy-assed, parasite-infested, child-sacrificing bunch of savages on the planet believed passionately in their own set of super- heroes. Zeus, Thor, Wotan, Jehovah--these superdudes punched, nuked and genocided their way through the Bronze Age imagination.
But then came the great extinction. Gods dropped like flies. Soon--apart from the awesome Hindu pantheon--the only superhero left in the West was the Jewish god God (and his Christian sidekicks the Holy Ghost and Jesus the Boy Wonder).
It wasn't enough. So the Catholics invented the saints. But they never really caught on outside Catholicism, having a tendency to get martyred in the first episode and possessing for the most part pretty mundane superpowers (like the amazing ability to not rot when martyred).
So it's perhaps fitting that in the 1930s it was a couple of Jewish kids who invented Superman, the first secular superhero (and soon had him kicking Hitler's ass). In the 1960s two more Jewish Americans--Stan Lee and Jack Kirby--reinvented the modern American superhero as a flawed and self-doubting loner, the James Dean-y Spider-Man.
Ever since then comics have tried and failed to escape the superhero trap. In the 1980s comics writers decided they wanted to be taken as seriously as serious novelists (the irony being of course that the dead-in-the-water serious novel was in desperate need of comics' juvenile berserker energy). So there was a tedious glut of comics about relationships, the pain of authorship and the ordinariness of being ordinary. And they all sucked mightily.
This trend was perhaps embodied best by 1992's critically acclaimed Maus--a book about the Holocaust and the author's relationship to his survivor dad. Looking back, it's obvious Maus was missing something, that something being Capt. America (assisted by Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos) smashing down the gates of the death camps and slaughtering Nazi scum with chain-mailed fists, steel-toe-capped combat boots and blazing tommy guns.
Meanwhile the best graphic novels didn't eschew the superhero--they brutally deconstructed and reimagined him. Books like Watchmen, Dark Knight, Preacher and V for Vendetta recreated the supe as fascist, psychopath, government stooge, stud, sadist and terrorist.
Recently the what-if-superheroes- really-existed meme has been imploding. In Bizarre New World a fat ginger bloke suddenly discovers he can fly. So he uses this power to hover 5 feet above the ground, fighting his vertigo. And in Kick-Ass a skinny white suburban teenager puts on a uniform and physically attacks nonwhite folks he thinks are wrongdoers--and ends up spending months in intensive care. (Hey, can you spell hubris?)
Struggle as they might, comics still can't escape the shadow of the gods they created.