While DC Comics has chosen to only distinguish their book as either "mature" or "not mature", and even going so far as having specific lines for "mature" books (VERTIGO) and "young children" (JONNY DC), Marvel's been using a rating system. One that unless you figured out the equations didn't make much sense to the average consumer.
These ratings, according to Marvel, went as such:
"MARVEL RATING SYSTEM
ALL AGES - 8+ years old
Carrying no cover label, these titles are appropriate for readers of all ages.
MARVEL PSR ("Parental Supervision Recommended") - 12+ years old
Appropriate for most readers, parents are advised they may want to read before or with younger children.
(Formerly PG - In-stock backlist titles may carry this old rating.)
MARVEL PSR+ - 15+ years old
Similar to Marvel PSR, but featuring more mature themes and/or more graphic imagery. Recommended for teen and adult readers.
(Formerly PG+ - In-stock backlist titles may carry this old rating.)
PARENTAL ADVISORY/EXPLICIT CONTENT - 18+ years old
Most Mature Readers books will fall under the MAX Comics banner (created specifically for mature-content titles). These titles may contain content similar to an R-rated movie - including harsh language, graphic violence, mature themes, nudity and some sexual situations. MAX (and any mature-themed titles) will be designed to appear distinct from mainline Marvel titles, with the "Parental Advisory/Explicit Content" label very prominently displayed on the cover. Parental Advisory/Explicit Content titles will NOT be marketed to younger readers.
Marvel ratings serve as general guidelines for readers. In many instances, a PSR title may be appropriate for most age groups. Marvel leaves the final determination of what is appropriate content up to the consumer."
In actuality... if you were to compare these ratings to movie theater ratings, which are the most well known, it would have been more like this:
ALL AGES = PG
MARVEL PSR = PG-13
MARVEL PSR+ = R
PARENTAL ADVISORY/EXPLICIT CONTENT = NC17
Now Marvel has made another change to their ratings system. This time making it a bit more comprehensible.
The new ratings system goes like this:
"ALL AGES - Appropriate for readers of all ages.
T+ SUGGESTED FOR TEEN AND UP - 13+ years old Appropriate for most readers, parents are advised they may want to read before or with younger children.
PARENTAL ADVISORY - 15+ years old Similar to T+ Suggested for Teen and Up, but featuring more mature themes and/or more graphic imagery. Recommended for teen and adult readers.
MAX: EXPLICIT CONTENT - 18+ years old Most Mature Readers books will fall under the MAX Comics banner, (created specifically for mature content titles) MAX and Mature-themed titles will continue to be designed to appear distinct from mainline Marvel titles, with the "MAX: Explicit Content" label very prominently displayed on the cover. MAX titles will NOT be sold on the newsstand, and they will NOT be marketed to younger readers."
Sounds like it's going to be a very beneficial change. At least now people will know who the books are targeting.
Last time I commented on Marvel's rating system was back when they first began using them after abandoning the Comics Code Authority.
Two other things to worth checking out are "The 1954 Senate Interim Report- Comics and Juvenile Delinquincy" (I mentioned this one in the first article) and "The Original Code" that resulted from it.