So, when exactly did the lower class take over comic books?
Comic books used to be a refuge from the grimy tedium of the workaday world. It was all about sitting around in your smoking jacket with your pipe in your study, reading about murders in the paper, and muttering out loud to yourself, "The time's not ripe yet to go after the Eviscerating Bandit -- but soon...!"
It wasn't just Bruce Wayne; all the old gang were stand-up regular upperclass joes. Sure Clark Kent was originally a farmboy, but in the Golden Age, he used to sport his tuxedo all around down, shufflefooting on high society dancefloors and getting grapefruits shmushed in his face by toothpick-chewing toughs. Alan Scott, engineer/broadcaster, stank of privilege, and his replacement, Hal Jordan, spent half his conscious hours in a white dinner jacket doing the samba with society swells.
Jay Garrick? Successful (if somewhat clumsy) chemist. Ted Knight? Never seen without a tuxedo and a nearby manservant. Ollie Queen? Wealthy gadabout.
But, somehow, somewhen, the world changed. NASCAR became a "sport"; poker became a spectator event on television; Las Vegas became acceptable; Target & Wal-Mart supplanted Saks & Bloomingdales. Men stopped wearing hats in the streets and started wearing them in restaurants. Women turned in their high heels for sneakers. Ties were replaced by bluetooths and gowns by jeans. People no longer aspire to higher class, but struggle to maintain a lower- class facade, no matter what their finances.
Back in the day, Carter Hall was an archeologically-oriented sophisticate; Ted Grant was a medical student, then a wealthy celebrity. Nowadays, Carter is some sort of barely restrained savage and Ted Grant is some beer-swilling Wolverine-lite, and a reader can only assume that criminals can literally smell either one of them from a block away.
Was it the younger generation's fault? Nowadays, people are permitted to call themselves college graduates who should be secretaries and chaffeurs, and, in any previous decade, would have been. But, Roy and Dick, wards of millionaires, never went to college? Donna Troy? Wally West? Kyle Rayner? Slackers, hanging out at coffee shops, instead of hitting the books. And don't get me STARTED on Jack Knight... The main next generation hero I'm certain went to college? Helena Bertinelli -- gangster's daughter.
In Gilbert & Sullvan's The Gondoliers, the Grand Inquisitor sings the story of king who promoted everyone in his domain, so that he would not be the only person enjoying wealth and privilege. The end result? Once the marks of privilege became commonplace, people disdained them, and sought out the styles and delights of the underprivileged.
That's the world we live in now. Our comic books reflect it.