If it's crap ... We'll tell you
20. "Aquaman" Arthur Curry
Why He's Number 20: Aquaman is a great character I think who can bring a lot of very cool elements into a story. King of Atlantis, a half human hybrid, a eco-conservationist, it's just really too bad that Namor the Sub-Mariner is so much cooler. To make matters worse the early versions of Aquaman and the huge amount of gay jokes they spawned really knocked this character down a few pegs. People always bring up Batman as a poster boy of superhero homosexuality, but seriously, has anyone actually ever seen the old Aquaman cartoons? In the end though, Aquaman did beat out Namor on the list just for the simple fact that Namor doesn't have a hook for a hand and Arthur Curry does.
19. "Nightwing" Dick Grayson
Why He's Number 19: "Batman Is Dead, Long Live The Batman". When I first read those words at the beginning of Battle For The Cowl, I was inspired and looking forward to a new Batman for a new generation. Unfortunately now that DC seems to have decided to bring Bruce Wayne back just less than a year after his ward, the man who would be Batman, Dick Grayson has finally taken up the cape and cowl of his mentor I can't help but feel let down. Kyle Rayner got 10 years as our primary GL, Wally West had 25 years to shine, kinda sad to see Dick Grayson get pushed aside after only a few months. Either way, as the Bat or Nightwing, Grayson is one of my favorites and a strong fan favorite, easily securing a spot in my top 20.
18. "Mr. Fantastic" Reed Richards
Why He's Number 18: Though Reed Richards may in fact be the third super stretchy superhero to debut in a 10 year period, following Plastic Man by 6 years and Elastic Man by less than a year, I think all of us can agree he is if not the best, he is the more well known and familiar to fans. Reed Richards has also been central to more big universe spanning events than either of his stretching counterparts. The man who can stand before Galactus without fear and fight toe to toe with Dr. Doom while still doing quantum physics equations in his head has got to be somewhere on this list, doesn't he?
17. "Green Lantern" Kyle Rayner
Why He's Number 17: There once was a time where a human becoming a Green Lantern was unheard of, now it seems to happen all the time. Either way, Kyle Rayner is special not only because he is the 'last' Green Lantern for now, but because he did something for the fans that neither John Stewart or Guy Gardner were able to do, and that was successfully replace Hal Jordan. To bad he seems to be an easy target for malevolent forces.
16. "The Flash" Wally West
Why He's Number 16: Like Kyle Rayner, Wally West was tasked with replacing a beloved hero and was able to pull it off. While it took him a while to finally really step in and fully accept and take over Barry Allen's role within the DC Universe and tap into his full powers, Wally's turning into arguably the most famous incarnation of the Flash even going as far as to secure a spot as the only Flash to appear in the Justice League Animated Series and becoming the main basis for the short lived, beloved and missed 1990s Flash live-action show, though the character retained Barry Allen's name, nearly all parts of his life and story-lines were taken from stories about Wally.
15. "The Invisible Woman" Sue Storm
Why She's Number 15: How many other female comic book characters do you know of who began as your typical love interest/damsel in distress only to later become considered one of the single most powerful women in comic books? No, I'm not talking about Jean Grey. I'm talking about Sue Storm, whose original powers of invisibility have become today an array of hard light and psionic abilities ranging from projectiles and force fields of incredible strength. She also in some very weird and creepy way has become a huge sexual icon for comic book geeks. Google Image Search "Sue Storm" with the filters off, I dare you. Even though, might impressive for a mother of two who started out as the weakest of the Fantastic Four only to eventually become their greatest leader.
14: "Green Arrow" Oliver Queen
Why He's Number 14: While he may not have the same drawing power as some of comic book's other heavy hitters, I dare you to find a comic fan who isn't also a fan of at least some incarnation of the Emerald Archer. Originally a Batman clone, complete with Arrowmobile and Arrowcave, even his own sidekick Speedy- Green Arrow really came into his own when teamed up with the Green Lanterns of Earth. Green Arrow, much like some of my favorite Marvel heroes, usually operates on a much smaller scale than most superheros. It's refreshing to see a hero who cares about the small guy and makes the character easier to relate to, I think. Green Arrow's Marvel counterpart Hawkeye was a tough contender for this spot but ultimately Green Arrow took it that to his widen exposure to audiences thanks to his starring role in the series opener for Justice League Unlimited and his now regular role on Smallville.
13. "The Daredevil" Matt Murdock
Why He's Number 13: Many fans seem to have a love-hate relationship with Daredevil, mostly because of the abysmal film adaptation starring Ben Affleck, but also because I think as much as he tries not to be, people will always see him as either "Marvel's Failed Batman" or "The Poor Man's Spider-Man"- I see Daredevil personally was one of the coolest and most interesting comic book characters to ever grace my bookshelves. When Matt Murdock first debuted in the pages of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee earned quite a bit of praise for putting a handicapped man in the spotlight. As well as being blind, Matt was also orphaned as a child- I think that may have been where the movie went wrong, in forgetting that fact that Daredevil is all about overcoming all and finding justice for himself and those who like him have had something stolen from them thanks to a corrupt world. That and introducing Elektra into the storyline far too early. Hopefully if Daredevil gets the reboot treatment and they hold Elektra off for the first movie or two more people will learn just how intriguing and entertaining a character Matt Murdock can really be.
12. "Captain Marvel" Billy Batson
Why He's Number 12: Ask your everyday casual superhero fan who Captain Marvel is and you may very well find more people responding "Who?" than you may like. There was a time though when Captain Marvel's name carried a very hefty amount of sway with it. It's hard to think that there was once a time where Captain Marvel was within reach of pulling Superman off his ivory town and becoming the iconic and quintessential hero we see Supes as today. Being that Captain Marvel was really preteen Billy Batson didn't hurt the character to much either when it came to attracting the younger audience. For these facts alone, I think Captain Marvel easily deserves his place on this list.
11. "Wolverine" James “Logan” Howlett
Why He's Number 11: Oh dear lord, Wolverine's not in the top 5?! I can feel the fanboy hatred already. There was a time long ago when I was a huge Wolverine fan, really. Unfortunately these days it has reached a point where really I am just sick of seeing him and I hope somewhere out there, there are people who agree with me. After being the central focus of 4 movies (I mean really, the X-men movies really could have just been called WOLVERINE and the X-men.... which happens to be the name of the new cartoon...), numerous videogames and a cartoon as well as having a cameo in just about every Marvel book I pick up these days, I just really want a break from Wolvie. As cool and edgy as Wolverine is and was, he finds himself here on this list simply because he hasn't really done anything really amazing or featured in absolutely must read story lines in a really long time, I'm afraid of him getting as stale as Superman.
10. "Wonder Woman"
Why She's Number 10: Wonder Woman was one of the first and is to this day the most popular female superhero world wide, that alone earns her a spot in the top 10 in my opinion. Combine that with that fact that she was created simply for the purpose of vicariously living out bondage fantasies and you have one of the greatest comic characters of all time. She's maintained a high level of popularity since her debut, even surviving a live action series starring Linda Carter, that's not easy to do. Wonder Woman, myself and comic fans around the world salute you and your incredibly questionable costume.
9. "The Incredible Hulk" Robert Bruce Banner
Why He's Number 9: Come on now, be honest. Who guy didn't go around at least once when they were a little kid pretending to be the Hulk, yelling "Hulk Smash!"? Hell, I knew girls who use to pretend they were Hulk, some of them could probably still pull it off today. Between some purely awesome comics, the live action series starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, the 1996 cartoon and the insane amount of merchandise with Hulk all over it, I doubt there was a kid out there who didn't know who the Hulk was and didn't want to be him at sometime. Even today, you know you have days when you wish you could just Hulk-out and go on a rampage.
8. "The Flash" Barry Allen
Why He's Number 8: As good as Wally West was, nothing beats the original. Barry Allen may have not been the first man to take on the Flash name but he is the iconic character all fans know and love. He was one of the reasons Crisis On Infinite Earths was such as powerful and hit storyline. He was also one of the few superheroes who died and actually stayed dead, well for 25 years at least, which is still saying something. Most come back by the end of the month.
7. "Iron Man" Tony Stark
Why He's Number 7: Tony Stark has had an incredible surge in popularity in recent years thanks to both the blockbuster movie starring Robert Downey Jr. but simply the vast amount of huge universe altering story lines he has been central to in the Marvel Universe. From the Civil War, to the Skrull Invasion til now with the Siege and the fall of SHIELD, Tony Stark is everywhere getting involved in everything. Just too bad the Ultimate universe screwed him up so much, I apologize to any fans of "spray on armor, growing back body parts like a lizard" Tony. As one of the original Avengers and host to a huge amount of fans, Iron Man isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
6. "Spawn" Al Simmons
Why He's Number 6: While Spawn may not be one of the most well known or kid friendly superheroes, in the late 90s he was definitely one of the most popular amongst teenagers and young adults. At a time when all superheros were becoming edgier and more darker in an attempt to cash in on things such as the new Attitude style of wrestling, the rise of Grunge in commercial radio and the heyday of MTV, no one was edgier or darker than Todd McFarlane's Spawn. A dead military assassin whose returned to the world of the living empowered by the power of the demon Malebolgia- by that line alone, who doesn't want to read this comic? Here's to hoping Spawn gets his long rumored and deserved movie reboot.
5. "Captain America" Steve Rogers
Why He's Number 5: He's Captain America and if you don't like him, you're a communist, a Nazi or French. But no really, Captain America is great. Or was. Or still is depending on your own thoughts on the character and which writer is handling him. It's not easy staying relevant in today's world when your dressed as an American flag, but when it's that subject in itself that Captain America is facing that he truly becomes a great character and enthralling character. A man out of time who was froze in WW2, only to be brought back and join the Avengers, not only does Rogers have to deal with losing decades of his life but not he's gone from being top dog fighting the Nazi forces to a powerless hero fighting alongside mutants, aliens and robots. I'm surprised he and Hawkeye never went insane.
4. "Green Lantern" Hal Jordan
Why He's Number 4: Honestly if it weren't for his recent boost in popularity and exposure thanks to the DC Animated movie Green Lantern: First Flight, the rave reviews of the Geoff Johns written books, and the upcoming film, I think Hal Jordan would be much lower on this list. When I was younger, I didn't really know who Green Lantern was, I thought "He uses a ring and it's useless against yellow, that's stupid"- but you know my opinion has changed and for the better, now I can't wait for the movie and I think myself and many others have Geoff Johns to thank for that. Hal Jordan has always been a force in the DC Universe, but it wasn't really until his return from the dead after a nearly 3 decade long absence that he really became the superstar that he is and will continue to grow as in the next few years.
3. "Spider-Man" Peter Parker
Why He's Number 3: Okay, think for a minute. How many Spider-Man villains can you name? How many supporting characters? Which costume is your favorite? Which theme song to the cartoons do you remember most fondly? That is why Spider-Man is number 3 on this list. Because you, your family, your neighbors and probably just about everyone you know can answer these questions, they can name a handful of villains, the all know J.J. Jameson and Harry Osbourne, they all like either the classic red and blue, the symbiote black, the sweats with the spider drawn on or the Iron Spider armor. Hell, they can probably sing or hum most of the theme songs. What kid is the past 3 generations didn't pretend he is Spider-Man and want a web shooter for his birthday? Spider-Man is awesome, personally not my favorite, but awesome still and will continue to rise in popularity for many years to come.
1/2. "Superman" Kal-El Clark Kent/"The Batman" Bruce Wayne
Why They Are Numbers 1 & 2: So I decided to cop-out of making a real decision and Superman and Batman get to share the number 1 and 2 spots and decide between themselves who gets what. Why? Because really how can you fairly choose? I know Superman has a lot of dissenters, who call him old, stale, boring, but be that as it may, he has enduring and is still beyond a shadow of a doubt the most recognizable superhero in the world. So why isn't he number 1? Because Batman is a top contender for that title of most recognizable, as well as having been involved in the largest number of bestselling, critically acclaimed, and fan loved story lines of all time. Batman and Superman are both great in their own ways, they both come into a lot of criticism for a lot of reasons, they are both loved by millions and hated by millions, but either way when a big new event occurs or a new movie is being released with their names on it, everyone is interested. All fans have some kind of memory they look back on and remember why they love comic books, odds are Superman or Batman were in some way linked to or responsible for that memory.
So there you have it, my Top 20 List of the Greatest Superheroes. Some of you may disagree with my list, some of you may concur with what I've said. Hell, most of you with disagree but that is all right, and that is what comic books and being a comic book fan is all about; finding that one character you connect with and defending him to the death as the greatest of all time. Feel free to make your own lists, but please, not in my comments section. :P