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Back when I first started reading comics (1963), it was the Flash, Barry Allen, as drawn by Carmine Infantino.  I think Martian Manhunter was a close second.  Not sure who I'd've picked six years later at the Silver/Bronze Age transition.  And now ... don't think I have one, except in a nostalgic sense.

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How exactly are we defining heroes? If it's an unfiltered pick:

Hellblazer Vol 1 63 | DC Database | Fandom

 

If I have to go back to my comic heyday in the 80s it was probably someone in this team... 

The Defenders (Comic Book) - TV Tropes

 

Although, Ghost Rider quickly caught my interest with it's reboot in 1990, which led to the only Fantastic Four comics I ever purchased. 

When Wolverine, Spider-Man, Hulk, and Ghost Rider Became the Fantastic Four  | Marvel

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used to be Mister E, but he's a villain now. (Thanks Gaiman). Phantom Stranger was also a favorite except when used by Paul Kupperberg. Was not a fan of his impersonating a serial killer to be with the serial killer's family, or that he was Judas, or he has to betray thirty people as punishment (Thanks DiDio). I always liked Billy Batson/Captain Marvel before they put on a modern take and attitude, and the original Ben Ten before the reboots. I think now Moon Shadow, and Lobster Johnson are at the top of the list.

CES

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Doctor Strange. That he earned his powers through study. The phantasmagorical alien dimensions. The really cool house. I imprinted on him early, thanks to a few raggy old comics from the first run (early first run) I found in a box in my attic. Between those and Yellow Submarine, it became nigh inevitable that I would write The Ultimate Supermage.

 

After that, probably Captain America and the Flash (hm, another hero I encountered early... with the issue holding Doctor Alchemy's first appearance. I am seeing a pattern.)

 

For all I've enjoyed Kurt Busiek's Astro City, I can't really nominate any of the heroes in it, because they are secondary to a larger theme and narrative.

 

Oddly, with DC I have mostly preferred the new characters such as Blue Devil and Starman (Will Payton), which resulted in frequent disappointments when their titles were cancelled. The "Old Standbys" just had too much baggage.

 

Dean Shomshak

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  I‘ve always liked the more obscure ones. When I was a little kid and everyone else liked Batman (because of the TV show we all watched on reruns) I was fascinated by Green Hornet. I got into the old radio shows and everything.

  Comics wise as a teen when it was either X-Men or Teen Titans  my favorites were Captain Comet and the Martian Manhunter.

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10 hours ago, Bazza said:

Thor. 

 

Maybe i I need to change my avatar. 

 

Thor has always been my favorite superhero. The comic-book version, though, not MCU Thor. Your avatar, however, is my second favorite.

 

I love mythology, and Thor is just about the preeminent ass-kicker among all the pantheons. But the Marvel version was infused with a "period" noble bearing and diction, a home world with unique style, and IMHO the coolest trademark weapon in comics.

 

Dr. Strange was unlike any character before, and through him Stan Lee and Steve Ditko practically invented the conventions of comic-book magic spells and mystic dimensions. Strange's elegance and aura of mystery also set him apart from most comic-book heroes.

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The firs time I really took notice of Thor as a character was while Eric Masterson was holding the title. This was like: Impostor Syndrome and You! There was this great established legacy of the character this normal guy now had to live up to, and despite the power wasn't sure if they could, yet they tried anyway. 

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Dr. Fate. The idea of someone who willingly let himself be possessed by a god when he wore an ancient artifact helmet was just too neat. And the concept came with lots of ready-made drama—Kent Nelson having to allow himself to be possessed in order to engage in his heroics, the conflict between his viewpoint and Nabu's, the tug-of-war between his responsibilities and his relationship with his girlfriend (and later wife) Inza, who was in the know unlike most comic book love interests.

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Starlin's Captain Marvel series in the 1970's (the Kree Mar-Vell). Loved the artwork and how the series expanded the scope of the Marvel comics universe.

 

I loved Iron Man back then too. He ran into a lot of high-tech villains and a lot of the resolutions to the conflict wasn't him beating the villain into submission but rather figuring out how their gimmick worked and figuring out a way around it. A heck of a lot of his adventures focused on having to protect his fortune and properties from people who were intent on stealing it or raiding it. His tech empire almost acted like a DNPC. Loved the writing in the mid to late '70's.

 

Really like Reed Richards. He's smart but his friends like him and stick with him no matter how much his head is in the clouds. And he got the girl whether he particularly deserved her or not. That oddly gave me a lot of hope for the future when I was a kid.

 

I admire Captain America. I love the way that normal Americans respond to him when they meet him on the street.

 

I love Vision for the combination of powers.

 

Hawkeye (Clint Barton): love the costume, the powers, and the attitude

 

Booster Gold: neat power set. His very flawed personality and his friendship with Blue Beetle makes him very entertaining

 

Wildfire of the Legion of Superheroes: very powerful but tortured because he doesn't have an actual physical body. Emotionally needs his teammates and girlfriend a lot more than most heroes.

 

To pick an example for my kids: Captain America.

To pick someone to save me in an emergency: Reed Richards.

To pick someone to power-game in Champions: Vision.

To pick someone to hang out with: Booster Gold.

To pick a tour guide: Captain Mar-Vell: he knows everybody, everywhere.

 

Honorable mentions: why I like them and why they didn't make the top:

Starhawk: the One Who Knows never got enough attention to become a top character

Vance Astro: never got enough attention and the writers kept wanting to take him out of his life support suit

Adam Warlock: constant reinvention of the character kept him out of the top

Scott Lang as Ant-Man: not enough attention

Golden Boy from the Wild Cards Universe: not enough comics printed in that universe

Poppinjay Ackroyd from the Wild Cards Universe: not enough comics printed in that universe

"Fatman" Hiram Worchester from the Wild Cards Universe: not enough comics printed in that universe

Banshee (X-Men): love the costume and backstory

Black Bolt: cool costume and powers but never got enough dialogue

Deathlok: I'm a fan of bionics and computer implants, Deathlok had a cool storyline

Drax the Destroyer: don't like the depowered version or how he's treated in the MCU. But the original and his backstory is cool.

Dr. Fate: very cool concept, I just haven't seen enough of him. Hopeful for the new Stargirl series

Dr. Strange: love the character but they've screwed around with his powers and power levels so much that I don't have confidence in how he'll be treated in any particular story

Hank Pym Yellowjacket: love the character but they ruined him when they made him into a wife-beater

Phoenix: great character but misused, IMHO

Wonder Man (Simon Williams): great original costume, ruined by being wishy-washy and being turned into an energy being

Vindicator: Oh Canada, great costume, earnest team leader

Iron Fist: nice powered-up variation on martial artist, fantastic costume and backstory

Lightning Lad: cool costume, nice rivalry with brother, made his superhero marriage work, but he faded into the background whenever he was not elected LSH leader

Dream Girl: great costume, great power, great leader, writers didn't always know how to use her

Beast: used better in the Avengers than in the X-Men yet stuck in the X-Men more often than not

Quasar: the cosmic replacement for Mar-Vell

Rachel Summers: I'm a sucker for a Phoenix with a backstory

Scarlet Witch: convoluted backstory and combining magic with mutant powers is great. Adding in mental instability isn't.

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1 hour ago, archer said:

Wildfire of the Legion of Superheroes: very powerful but tortured because he doesn't have an actual physical body. Emotionally needs his teammates and girlfriend a lot more than most heroes.

 

 

My favorite Legionnaire

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6 hours ago, archer said:

Dr. Strange: love the character but they've screwed around with his powers and power levels so much that I don't have confidence in how he'll be treated in any particular story
 

An important point! So much depends on who's writing the character.

 

The latest run of Doctor Strange was painful and I had to quite several issues in, as the writer seemed determined to wreck and reject everything established about the character and, indeed, how magic works in the Marvel Universe. OTOH the Sorcerers Supreme limited series was interesting (though flawed). One of the best moments came at the end, when all the students of the Ancient One ome through time, space and dimension to help him do something very important... and though it isn't called out, Baron Mordo is there in the background. In the Mystic World, the bond between mentor and student is stronger than the conflict between hero and villain.

 

Thor is high on my list for the reasons LL described, and I might nominate Walt Simonson's tenure as one of the best runs in comic book history.

 

Dean Shomshak

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22 hours ago, Starlord said:

If I had to pick one, Captain America.  He has best ideals and sensibilities of all the heroes.  He also has the coolest superpower of them all - leadership and inspiration.

 

For me, the definitive Captain America moment came in Mark Gruenwald's run, during the Scourge of the Underworld story arc. The Water Wizard (fairly obscure villain) finds Cap and takes him to The Bar With No Name, where the Scourge has massacred more than a dozen third-string super-criminals. "You have to be our hero," the Water Wizard says. Even most of the supervillains trust that Cap will do right by them -- now that's a hero!

 

Dean Shomshak

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The X-men.  Teens with super-powers really appealed to me as a teen, not surprisingly, especially the idea that having powers wasn't always a beneficial thing.  And since I started in with the excellent writing of the Dark Phoenix saga, the X-men were hard to beat.

 

Spiderman would be an easy second place, for his personality, powers, and intelligence.

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I've always been partial to Spider-Man.  I like the great power / great responsibility bit, and the fact that those powers don't always make life easy for him, but he muddles through and does the best he can.  I read an article once that said Superman is how Americans wish/think they're perceived by others, and Spider-Man is how Americans actually perceive themselves.  I think there's a lot of truth in that.

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2 hours ago, Ockham's Spoon said:

The X-men.  Teens with super-powers really appealed to me as a teen, not surprisingly, especially the idea that having powers wasn't always a beneficial thing.


Early Rogue is among my favorite characters for this reason. Her power is arguably more of a disability than anything else. I didn’t care for much of her character development after the ‘90s though. 

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4 hours ago, Ockham's Spoon said:

1. The X-men.  Teens with super-powers really appealed to me as a teen, not surprisingly, especially the idea that having powers wasn't always a beneficial thing. 

 

2. And since I started in with the excellent writing of the Dark Phoenix saga, the X-men were hard to beat.

 

3. Spiderman would be an easy second place, for his personality, powers, and intelligence.

 

1. I started reading X-Men about the time Rogue joined the team. I was a teenage outcast, so the stories really resonated with me.

 

2. Dark Phoenix is one of the first real pieces of literature in the medium, IMHO. Their decision to retcon it in the late 80s is an abomination.

 

3. Seriously, who doesn't love Spidey?

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