Everyone is a fan of something, and comic books are one of those 'somethings' thats always a hotly contested topic. Whether you're Marvel or DC or Darkhorse or Image or maybe IDW, there's always fighting over who has the best characters or the best stories or worst villians. There will never be a true winner, but it's fun to argue and discuss each point of view. I used to read comic books all the time, it was a great escape into another world for me. There's something about disappearing into a story of your favorite characters. When I was younger my cast of favorites usually shifted as I was introduced to other characters, but for the most part these have lasted the test of time and were at one point or another the character that I had to read about.
Generally I'm a Marvel fan, but I do have a DC character on my top 5 list, and there are 2 others in my Top 10. But that's a moot point, so lets begin with the end.
Oliver Queen. Billionaire businessman. When he was first introduced to 'comic-culture' he was functioning as an analogous story to Batman, but slowly his story became more progressive in its psychology which showed its distinction from good ol' Batsy. Green Arrow was never a HUGE success, but as his story grew, it was decided that he should lose his fortune - giving him a unique role. He became the crusader from the boroughs, a hero for the weak and the working class. Later through a partnership with Green Lantern, the Green Arrow became a more well known character. In the 90's though he was killed off and replaced by his son, Connor. Nobody liked him... So Oliver was resurrected in the 'Quiver' storyline. Since then he's become one of the more stable characters in the DC Universe.
Green Arrow is number 5 on my list for his gritty nature as a hero, especially after he's shown to lose it all, yet never stopped fighting for the people who needed his help. My fan status for him only rose after Arrow premiered on The CW. He's just one of those characters that at points in his story felt like he was only moments from tipping over the edge and becoming an anti-hero.
Another archer, but I'm leaning towards the female version for this arrow toting hero. She's fairly new to the scene (2005), but I ultimately prefer her to the original Hawkeye of Clint Barton (who I will not deny that he's in my top 10 as well.) I just think that she has a better backstory, and she has become Clint's equal and his grounding force, which I believe gives her the edge of importance. She was born into a wealthy family with no distinct superpowers, but while she was on her own she was attacked in Central Park in her origin story, leading her to train in martial arts, archery and swordplay. She takes on the moniker of Hawkeye after receiving Clint's old bow and arrows from Captain America, addressing it to her as Hawkeye noting that she is the real deal, and is destined to take leadership of the team. She's a strong female lead, and after her time working with Clint Barton and training, she goes across the country and becomes more independent and shows her quirky fun side, offering some stark contrast to many other super heroines who are generally seen as brooding and determined to prove their worth as a hero.
Hawkeye (Kate Bishop) is my number 4 for her strength of character. She chose to be a warrior, is was not forced nor did she drink radioactive material that transformed her into a hero. She achieved it by grit and determination. She also has a quick wit which is something that draws me to any character.
Without a doubt, Deadpool probably has the most asinine and convoluted story line ever. But that's why I love him! He was subjected to the Weapon X program and through it has extensive regenerative healing ability making him immune to diseases, foreign chemicals and telepathic control. His healing ability is on par with Wolverine, even surpassing it. Along with healing Deadpool has superhuman strength, stamina, agility, reflexes and speed. He's a master martial artist and assassin and can break the fourth wall. He carries with him a magic satchel that contains his unlimited ammo and weaponry: guns, grenades, sai, knives, katanas, etc etc. You name it, he can fight with it. He often uses teleportation and can 'bodyslide' to wherever Cable (his frienemy) happens to be through Providence. By breaking the fourth wall, Deadpool has a very comedic tone throughout the comic series as well as within his own psychotic personality (a byproduct of his regenerative ability constantly molding and changing his brain cells).
Deadpool holds my number 3 spot for his sheer ADD-riddled psychosis of a personality. His instability makes him one of my favorites.
Another strong female character. There have been a few incarnations of Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers, Sharon Ventura, Karla Sofen & Kamala Khan) but my favorite is the original Ms. Marvel. Carol Danvers was originally an officer in the Air Force and through an explosion of a Kree device called the "Psyche-Magnetron" her body is merged with Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell) who was posing as a human doctor. She is a part of the Avengers team and also has frequent run-ins with various X-Men. She does transition from Ms. Marvel to Captain Marvel. Most of her powers are common superhero traits: strength, endurance, stamina, flight and durability. One of her more impressive skills was attained while she was under her pseudonym "Binary" where she absorbed the power to manipulate stellar energy having control over heat, electro-magnetics and gravity; also giving her the ability for light speed travel and existence in the vacuum of space. --- Although the bulk of that power was severed, she retained some of it and can absorb energy and project it as well.
Ms. Marvel holds the number 2 spot, for a couple reasons. She was in the military prior to gaining her super powers which shows that her "character" saw fit to serve her country and she had a high moral compass. Secondly, it's pretty bad-ass to be able to shoot energy from your fingers.
Danny Rand. If you read through my Marvel vs. DC contest entry then you'd know that Iron Fist holds the number one spot for me, and he likely always will. He kind of flopped around from storyline to storyline and showed up in several other series publications along with Luke Cage, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Black Panther, Daredevil and a couple Marvel team up specials.
His death in 1986 (which I didn't read until the 90's - because I was only 1 in 1986) still haunts me, but after his revival in the early 90's I felt the writers had been vindicated.
Iron Fist is one of those characters that I feel his similarities to some of the larger 'mainstream' names in comic-culture, but ultimately his story is more about mercy rather than the vengeance of Batman. After his father is killed by his business partner while traveling to the mystical city of K'un-L'un, and his mother killed by wolves he vows vengeance and trains in the martial arts of the mystic land. Proving himself through training he is given the chance to attain the power of the Iron Fist by battling a Dragon (which through this is how his dragon tattoo appears) and plunging his fists into the molten heart of that dragon. As his story unfolds it's revealed that he is part of a long lineage of Iron Fists.
Here's where Iron Fist's story turns from vengeance to mercy, and shows his true heart as a hero. He returns to earth from the mystic city seeking out his father's business partner. Confronting him, he discovers that he is legless - an aftershock of being caught in heavy snow after killing Daniel's father and abandoning Daniel and his mother. Iron Fist is overcome with pity and spares his life. What makes him even more hero-esque in my mind is through his friendship with Matt Murdock (Daredevil). He donned the mantle of Daredevil to make the people of Hell's Kitchen believe that Matt was not Daredevil. This story arc showed applicable in a few different pieces.
There it is. My top 5. What do you think?