This list is exclusive to heroes. If it were characters in general, this would be very different.
Dick Grayson, OG Robin turned Bludhaven savior gets my fifth spot because I feel he is one of the first, and in my opinion the best representation of a sidekick evolving and becoming something more than an accessory. Because though we all wanted to be Batman, or Captain America, or Green Arrow, as children we could better envision filling the shoes of Robin, or Bucky Barnes, or Speedy. But as we grow up we have to find our own paths, and Nightwing depicts that coming of age perfectly.
4) Professor X
Charles Xavier comes next because he adds something rarely seen in comics to the mix: Pacifism. I don't follow the Superhero subculture for "Make love, not war", but X does it masterfully. He's bound to a wheelchair, but this doesn't hinder his capability as a hero. He leads the X-Men toward the ultimate goal of mutant equality, opposite his former friend Magneto working for human extinction. Throughout all of their struggles, Professor X remains hopeful, and thereby gives the rest of us hope that we can accomplish our goals without stepping on someone else's neck.
3) Wonder Woman
I'm not quite sure what to say about Diana, princess of the Amazons. She's an ultimate badass, to be sure. But more than that, there's something nice about a girl who isn't mean and in your face about her ability to kick your ass. Her prowess in battle and respect for her teammates truly makes her deserving of being one of the three most iconic members of the Justice League. Not to mention she has one of the coolest and strongest origin stories in comics. Few characters have such deep and believable connections to classic mythology.
Wade Wilson, the Merc with a mouth is by far my favorite superhero to come out of Marvel's canon. I'm more of a DC man, but for Deadpool I'll make an exception. He doesn't take himself too seriously, which I appreciate. Dark levity and fourth wall breaks are the best, and not found often enough in comics. He's a refreshing splash of colorful, over the top personality, but also a character who can garner sympathy. Total awareness of one's creator and audience AND virtual immortality don't sound like a good time. But Deadpool manages to stay cool about the whole thing (except for the part where he killed the entire Marvel universe and then some that one time) and I love him for it.
Finally, Bruce Wayne, a.k.a the Dark Knight gets my number one spot. Batman is arguably the most recognizable comic book hero in the history of the medium, and for good reason. His origin story is elegantly simple, and tugs on your heartstrings because it's so easy to imagine happening to you, especially as a child. Not to mention he has the kind of resources and skills that we all envy, and make him a force to be reckoned with, one of the few heroes to be able to go toe-to-toe with Superman. However, he's been proven not to be infallible, which helps remind the audience (and himself) of his humanity. But with a little help from his friends, he always finds a way to come back and pull through, which is all any of us can hope for.
What do you guys think? Agree with my list? If not, write your own and tag it with "contest" to be entered to win some sweet comic book schwag. Thanks for reading!