Crossposted from my livejournal, but probably more suitable here; this is the list of my top *counts on fingers* 24 or so characters. And why I like them. Agree? Disagree? I'd like to hear your opinions too.
My absolute very favorite characters: (the order tends to change based on what I'm in the mood for reading, but it's always one of these three):
-Tim Drake/Robin (III): I love Tim. I've loved Tim ever since he was an adorable freaky little bat!stalker in A Lonely Place of Dying. He's brilliant (figured out Batman and Robin's identity at the age of *nine*), repressed, intense and efficient. He's a force of nature. He's also completely fucked up, but in a more subtle, more fascinating (to me) way than either Dick or Bruce. It's like...he's sixteen years old and can't really seem to relate to anyone on a natural non-Robin level. It's like in order to become the Robin that he believe Bruce needed, he's carved away everything else, so that all he really knows is his duty. (I think it's also very fitting that when Tim briefly stopped being Robin, it was only because his prior duties as Jack Drake's son ultimately trumped his duties as Robin. And I really do believe that he sees "Jack Drake's son" as a duty more than anything else.) He cares very much about people but doesn't know how to show them without playing the role that he thinks they need him to be: whether it's the scarily competent leader of YJ/Titans, Nightwing's little brother, Batman's smartass sidekick (if in a drier, subtler manner than Dick or Jason had been), junior tech-head to Oracle, and so on and so forth.
The fascinating aspect to me is that the character is portrayed so completely differently in every book I see him in, but he always feels like Tim regardless. It's like the character concept is so blindingly strong that each differing portrayal becomes a facet of the whole. Or something like that. (Ack! That's it! Like that show a few years back! Tim's a Pretender!--yay, now I know what I'll write for the next timfinity challenge!)
-Kyle Rayner/Green Lantern (V)/Ion: I'm weird, because I love all of the Green Lanterns. (Except Jade, who doesn't count. :-P) Alan, Hal, Guy, John, Kyle...which used to be very hard with all the Hal vs. Kyle mentality. Fortunately Hal's resurrection helped ease that a bit, so I can finally admit, I love them all. But I love Kyle best. :-)
Kyle's great! He's like a very strange combination of the most human of the big league superheroes and something else entirely. Some have called him the "everyman" (once I read someone refer to Hal as the hero everyone wanted to be and Kyle as the hero we'd end up being) but really, I couldn't disagree more. He's sweet and sensitive, a bit shallow sometimes, a bit dim, often lacking in confidence or attention span, but he's also the guy who out of sheer blind faith helped resurrect a guy who once tried to re-write the universe (even if Hal later redeemed himself by dying to stop the sun-eater). Kyle Rayner became a god once, and the first thing he did was cut his hair. Then he helped a lot of people, helped heal John Stewart, gave Jade her powers back, stopped meddling when Superman pointed out that people actually had to live their lives, and gave it all up without hesitation to bring back the Guardians and recharge the Central Battery. And later confessed to Hal (who was Spectre) that he thought he'd been very selfish when he had the power. (Hal's "What the hell are you talking about?!" reaction was the best thing ever.) He also once let an ancient medicine man yank his heart out of his chest in order to store the spirits of the JLA in it for thousands of years.
If nothing else, this is the guy that can get along with John Stewart, Hal Jordan (who he managed to impress, while the latter was crazy and Parallax, via hitting with a lead pipe) and Guy Gardner. This is the guy who actually got *Guy Gardner* to *apologize* to him...well, technically say "You shouldn't listen to what I say all the time", but from Guy, that's an apology. John, Guy and Hal almost never get along with each other without bickering/fighting, but they all really like him. (Hell, given the homoerotic undertones in the 2005 Secret Files and Origins, I think Hal more than likes him. Heh, my dad actually read the book and called Hal a pervert for going after someone so much younger. My dad called Hal Jordan a pervert! My dad is awesome!)
Basically I think Kyle's the idealized everyman, as that guy on the message board said: Hal's the hero we'd want to be and Kyle's the hero we would be...if we were incredibly pure of spirit and incorruptable and just that damn awesome. But he's also so very human in other ways, that it makes us believe...well, maybe we *could* be.
-Sanderson Hawkins/Sand (JSA): His name, code name and chemical constituency are all the same! How can you not like him! But really, the real genius behind Sand as a character is that he started as Sandy the Golden Boy. The single lamest Golden Age sidekick character ever. The only sidekick that was lamer was the little martian thing Hal Jordan had in the JLA cartoon in the eighties. The sidekick so lame that when the Sandman himself was post-Crisisly revived in Sandman Mystery Theater, they went out of their way to make Sandy an impossibility. (Dian Belmont is an only child, when he was supposed to be her nephew, and went out adventuring as Sandy herself in the thirties). Anyway, someone sat down with the character concept of Sandy the fucking Golden Boy...and made him absolutely kickass.
See in the 1970s, they did bring Sandy back for a while, as a monster, made that way by Wesley Dodds, the original Sandman's, failed experiment. It's an interesting story idea but really poorly done (though I'd love to see some writer now rewrite it for post-Crisis), and ultimately resulted in a cure for the poor kid and him wandering off to resume his normal life after decades of anesthesized sand-monster-dom.
But then when they started JSA, they brought him back, *really* brought him back. And made him cool and powerful, with Wesley's dreams and his own not-as-cured-as-they-thought sand monster-dom. Lately he hasn't been given as much dramatic stuff to deal with (more focus has been on Dr. Fate, Rex Tyler, and Jakeem Thunder) but he's remained a strong background presence and is naturally always good in a fight scene. He's calm, solemn, quiet and old-fashioned, with a bit of a crush on Hawkgirl (which fortunately hasn't been made into a triangle). His favorite musicians are Artie Shaw and Beck. Enough said, right there. *grin*
I think he's definitely complex and interesting enough to merit a solo book (especially if they play up the detective aspect and the dreams, which aren't really utilized enough in JSA...and they could make it really fun with lots of noir and nostalgic elements). And one of these days, maybe I'll finally get over how Johns and company actually made Sandy the-fucking-Golden Boy into my favorite damn character in the whole book.
10 Runner ups: male,
-Ted Kord/Blue Beetle (II): Insert obligatory "They killed Ted!" wail here. But honestly, it's only a matter of time before he's back somehow. Yeah, he's a relatively minor character, but the whole structure of Countdown to Infinite Crisis basically screamed "Not for long!" Besides, Ted's great: geeky, goofy, brilliant, nonsensical and heart wrenching. He immediately makes great books even better, like Birds of Prey. And he and Booster Gold have one of the best friendships ever.
-Snapper Carr: I love Snapper Carr. I'm not sure why. He's great. Made Hourman the blast it was, also balanced out Young Justice too. I like the symmetry of the JLA's first junior mascot mentoring others. (I also really liked Ronnie Raymond's Professor-like appearances in the new Firestorm for much the same reason)
-Guy Gardner: My second favorite Lantern. Rude, obnoxious, insensitive, but also really awesome. He's brave, determined and irrepressible. And while he'll never be a knight in shining armor, it really is clear when he cares about people. (like when he takes Kyle and John to go model-watching to cheer Kyle up after being tech-ized by the Manhunters). Besides, he's funny.
-Clark Kent/Superman: Yes, I like Superman. In fact, I like Superman better than Batman, even if I like the Batman comics better than Superman comics. I think Superman's very human, very relatable. For all that he's this great icon, he's occasionally arrogant, smug and condescending. He's not really perfect and sometimes falls short of his ideals. But he never stops trying. I'll take that over Batman's broody self-centered fucked-up-ness any day. I hope he kicks Earth-2 Superman's arrogant, judgemental ass.
-Kon-El/Superboy: I like Kon too. I like Kon a lot. He's obnoxious, insecure, loud, arrogant and great. He's grown a lot since his own series and Young Justice, and I'm glad for that too. I also really liked the Lex Luthor twist, and I think his experiences are really starting to mature him into someone really awesome. I hope they don't kill him off. (I particularly like his interactions with Tim Drake. Admittedly, I'm also a slasher. :P)
-John Constantine: Heh, I love John Constantine, awful movie not withstanding. Hellblazer's an awesome comic and John's always very entertaining. I have a particular fondness for the old Swamp Thing issues though. I enjoy seeing how Alec and John play off each other (and Abby's so very pretty), I'm dying to find old issues of Saga of the Swamp Thing online.
-Billy Batson/Captain Marvel: Captain Marvel! Whee! I'm so glad you didn't go splat in Day of Vengeance, please rejoin JSA and have cuteness with Stargirl again! Apologize profusely and bring flowers! And listen more to Mary as she is smarter than you! For some reason, I really really want to give Billy a great big hug and tell him it'll be all ok. I blame this on thwarted maternal issues.
-Bigby Wolf: Fables is great, Fables is awesome, Willingham is not the devil if he can make a comic so chock full of awesome male and female characters. He just really should stick to this stuff and steer clear of things like Robin. The Big Bad Wolf as a sheriff! Bigby's incapable of being anything but incredibly awesome. Though to be fair, every character in that comic is kickass in their own right, even if I'm only sticking to my favorites for this list.
-Cosmic Boy: I love Cosmic Boy. He's a bitch, but you'd be one too, if you spent an incarnation in a damn corset in outer space and got rebooted everytime someone in the DCU present sneezed. Anyway, bitch that he is, he's also got some real fascinating depth. (My favorite moment in the current Legion version is when, about to leave after being overthrown, he actually starts addressing various crowd-members by name and talks about why they joined the Legion. It was mind-blowing and completely altered the way I'd previously seen the character, which I appreciate every reread.) Also have much love for Saturn Girl, Triplicate Girl, Braniac 5, and the Invisible Kid.
-Alfred Pennyworth: Because he's Alfred. Enough said. :-)
10 Runner ups female, (While I tend to be more interested in male characters in general, there are also female characters I love with a passion)
-Courtney Starsmore/Stargirl: I love Courtney, she and Sand are my favorite parts of JSA. (I hope she, Sand, Dr. Mid-Niter and Mr. Terrific get more emotional storyline stuff to do soon.) I particularly like her relationship with Captain Marvel. Courtney's probably one of, if not the best, "normal teenage girl" characters in comics.
-Cassandra Sandsmark/Wondergirl (II): I like Cassie too. For all of the problems of Byrne's run on Wonder Woman, he got one thing right. Cassie started as another irritating little-girl admirer of Diana (though still much better than Vanessa Kapitelis), but quickly became pretty cool in her own right. She intrigued me when she approached Zeus, and then Young Justice made her interesting. I hope she gets to do more in Titans. (Same goes for Tim and Kon...do we really need another: Raven might be evil! Oh noes, it's Brother Blood! plotline?)
-Diana/Wonder Woman: I think Wonder Woman gets a lot of flack. Yes, she's not really a feminist icon. Yes, she spent most of her Golden Age incarnation in various degrees of bondage. But I like Diana. I think she's a really interesting character. I particularly like how they never really bothered with a secret identity (post-crisis) and focus on her role as ambassador as much as hero. She's kind, wise and admirable. (And when she fought along side Artemis when the latter was Wonder Woman...rowr! That straight wig was great!) Also much love for Artemis, even if her character design seemed like a total ripoff of WildC.A.T.S.'s Zealot and Hippolyta who should be brought back instead of crappy Donna Troy.
-Karen Starr/Power Girl: I love Power Girl, I love her strength and forcefulness. I love that she doesn't wear a mask because no man looks at her face. I love the fact that she's aware of her "assets" but also doesn't let that change the fact that she's an intelligent, powerful woman, and that she knows if she were a man no one would have ever criticized her attitude. I also love that she's avoided the Madonna/Whore dichotomy that most heroines straddle. She's a sexual being and it works for her.
-Barbara Gordon/Oracle: I love Barbara. Not so much when she was Batgirl, actually, but as Oracle, Barbara's awesome. She's got a totally unique identity in the hero community and I hope she doesn't lose that when she regains the ability to walk. (That said, I like Dick/Kory and Ted/Babs as couples rather than Dick/Babs. He's too needy, she's too much like Bruce).
-Dinah Lance/Black Canary: Black Canary's great too. I like her especially in her JSA run, where she had a wonderful, maternal presence. She's awesome in Birds of Prey too though. She's not always the brightest (specifically during the tail end of Dixon's run), but I love her personality and demeanor. Ollie's a very lucky man.
-Tora Olafsdotter/Ice: It's weird because Ice isn't the usual type of character I like at all. But she's great. Shy and more stereotypically "feminine", but also undeniably strong too. I love her relationship with Guy too, because she understood that he was a jerk, but he really tried to tone it down for her, and she really appreciated the effort. And she was so very pretty and femslashy with Bea. Yay.
-Lois Lane: It's very bizarre because I never liked *any* portrayal of Lois Lane in the movies or any tv shows, but I really like comics Lois. Yeah, she's often the damsel in distress, but she's also smart, strong and sassy in a way that's actually quite charming. I first realized I liked her when she was one of the first outsiders allowed on Paradise Island, then went back to Superman comics and realized that she really is great. I can totally see why Clark loves her.
-Mary Batson/Mary Marvel/Captain Marvel (II): I like Mary a lot. She's sweet and perky and polite. I like her relationship with Billy in their comic and I loved her in FKAJS. She makes a fun foil to Fire. And her costume is pretty.
-Starfire: I love Starfire too. Yeah, she's an inside joke, yeah her name is Kori'ander, and she's T&A, and such, I love her anyway. She's just so unashamedly sexual (and it's rare to see that in a non-evil female character) and pure with her feelings. She's strong and powerful and just plain neat. That said, I prefer her in Outsiders than the current Teen Titans (though her interactions with Tim always intrigued me), and I think the toon!Titans version is a travesty.