Thanks to everyone for the various recommendations. I looked up the credits for a few things that got mentioned here and plan to add certain ones to my shopping list. I'm one of those people who buy comics based on the creators involved rather than the characters; it seems a more reliable way of finding good stuff, for me at least.
I think there's a significant portion of comics fans out there who, like me, fell in love with the medium as a child and read them now mostly for nostalgic reasons, looking for the same simple pleasures from long ago.
What seems to have happened with the superhero comics is that fan-creators have taken over and tried to repurpose the characters to deal with more adult themes. This is not a new effort; it's been going on since at least the late 60s/early 70s, when Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams did their "relevant" GL/GA stories.
The problem with this supposedly-sophisticated approach is that all the lasting superheroes were originally conceived to tell simple morality tales that children could enjoy. The best of these stories -- a tiny portion of the overall material produced -- were made with such a high level of craft that people of any age could take pleasure in them.
The generations of fan-creators that took over from the pioneers of the medium completely misunderstood the appeal of superheroes, incorrectly imagining that the genre was flexible enough to handle any subject matter, including levels of realism that are grotesquely incongruous with the very concept of costumed do-gooders. Alan Moore and Frank Miller got away with it in the 80s because it was still a novel approach back then, but the rest of the industry followed their example without recognizing the limitations of the techniques they used. The result has been a glut of ridiculously violent and sexually explicit comics that please neither creators nor fans, many of whom continue to completely misunderstand the medium they love and therefore perpetuate the basic problems.
There's my soapbox take on the decline of the medium. :) That plus nobody likes to read for pleasure as long as TV, video games, and the internet offer less-intellectually-demanding entertainment.
Sorry for the thread hijack, but I figured the topic had been wandered from in other ways already.