So, here's the state of the ethics of superheroes, as depicted by Marvel and DC comics, in the year 2011;
At DC, the heroes are continually depicted as ineffectual idealists because they don't kill, struggling in a sea of mass-murdering psychopaths. I can think of no better example here than Hal Jordan, so-called "Greatest Green Lantern". First, he forms his "proactive Justice League" in the abominable Cry for Justice. This would be the League where Ray Palmer, a man of 'great compassion' (so Blackest Knight tells us), went kicking around other people's brains like his ex-wife did when she killed Sue Dibny to torture them. And what did he end up showing for it? I mean, other than Prometheus completely infiltrating the team and completely botch the whole thing? Then, not learning from his mistakes, he corals together the "New Guardians", which has at least three members (Atrocitus, Larfleeze, and Sinestro) who are known mass murderers with body counts equal to or exceeding that of the Joker.
Over at Marvel, it looks like there isn't a hero left standing who isn't A-OK with killing opponents, which is why Wolverine and Moon Knight are accepted on the Avengers, and I'm sure the Punisher will be getting a call any day now. The only one who isn't OK with this is...well, I want to say Spider-Man isn't OK with this, but given the frequency with which he teams up with Wolverine and the Punisher, I guess he's OK with killing so long as he's not the one doing it. For me, the most telling case of this occured in the last issue of the Fantastic Four (SPOILERS AHEAD), where we see Valeria Richards, clearly anguished over the death of her uncle, gathering the rest of the young kids, and plotting to kill the one responsible. A tight moment of plotting, but the implications are disturbing. Let us consider the following;
1) SHE'S THREE YEARS OLD, TOPS - yes, she's hyper-intelligent, but intelligence rarely translates itself to any kind of emotional maturity. Yes it clearly is the act of a child, but there's no scene to draw attention to that little fact, so either it is meant to implied that she's making a rash, immature and dangerous decision, or we're meant to take this at face value. I'd feel better about the former being the correct option if this wasn't the same company that gave us Hit-Girl.
2) THE REST OF HER GROUP ARE CHILDREN - Oh, and the group she gathers together for her little plan are (with the exception of Alex Power) untrained combatants. So, if her plan is to advance, she will be making a group of minors accomplices to a premeditated act, and that trips well into that whole 'Child Soldier' thing I talked about a year ago.
3) WHERE'S THE ADULT SUPERVISION? - No one's around during class time? No HERBIE robots? or video cameras? Or any kind of supervision? No? OK.
So there you have it; Ineffectual morons on one side, and murderous children on the other. And people wonder why comic readership is sinking.