A RELATIVELY UNCONVENTIONAL TOP FIVE
1) The Golden Age Human Torch
Being a child of the silver age, I learned of The Jim Hammond version of the Human Torch from The Invaders by Roy Thomas and the terrific period artwork of Frank Robbins. His android sensibilities making him seemingly more human than many purely organic characters, I identified deeply with him. Then with Alex Ross and Kurt Busiek's perfect portrayal of him in "Marvels", I fell in love with the character all over again. Did I say how much I loved the Invaders? Because...
2) Namor, The Submariner
Honestly, I could completely populate this list with Golden Age Marvel characters, but the I really took to "Subby" with his appearances in The Fantastic Four in the '70s. Especially when Reed made his "containment suit", a decidedly non-Tarzan-ish fin-and-scale ensemble designed by (I believe) Herb Trimpe. Just a cool 1970s design that really served to update a great character. Besides, as a kid, I wanted to be a marine biologist, so I had to include a deep-sea character.
3) Barry Allen, The Silver Age Flash
From his colorful Rogues Gallery to the ultra-busy Irv Novick-penciled high speed afterimages, I loved everything about the Flash in the 1970s. Even the fact that he was married! He carried on living a human life in a way no other character did, largely because he really could be in more than one place at a time. With his dimension warping treadmill and frequent time traveling I never got bored or felt like I knew what was coming next. When his time came, he proved himself the ultimate hero, too, defeating the Anti-Monitor in the final act of universe-saving selflessness. Wally West would don his mantle post-crisis and prove himself every bit Barry's equal (thanks largely to books being written by and for a far more sophisticated readership), but Barry will always be my Flash.
4) Diana Prince, Wonder Woman
Yeah, Princess Diana had some good stories in the '70s (and some very, very bad ones, courtesy of Denny O'Neil's depowering/women's liberation movement arcs*), but I'm talking here about post-crisis, George Perez Wonder Woman, steeped in Greek mythology and drawn with painstaking glory by the Master himself. This was finally a female character depicted with all the superheroic grandeur and love of the medium that had been reserved for Batman and X-Men comics. A true Super Heroine for the 1980s and beyond. Stellar stuff, and thanks/kudos to Perez for giving the character the vehicle she needed to live up to her potential. Hopefully the film will follow in those giant footsteps.
(*Yes, these were important, relevant stories, but they were also boring as hell.)
5) Ben Grimm/The Ever-Lovin' Blue-eyed Thing
Saving the best for last here. Yes, I know the FF has been cancelled, but we all know it'll be back. The kid from Yancy Street is the ultimate redemption story to me. Underprivileged street gang kid cum top test pilot turned into a disfigured monster by his best friend's (mis?)calculations. I always felt sorry for Ben when another of Reed's attempts to return him to human form failed, and even before it was addressed in the books, I kind of doubted the sincerity of those attempts; did Reed honestly want to help him, or was the creation of the FF secretly his greatest triumph?
Through all of this, Ben's character and dedication to doing the right thing never wavered, and Aunt Petunia's favorite nephew became a beacon of right against all odds that still inspires me today.
Lemme know what you think, and thanks for reading!