8. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) - 1852 points (29 first place votes)
Created by John Broome and Gil Kane, the revamped Green Lantern debuted in the pages of Showcase. Hal Jordan was a test pilot who was chosen by the dying former Green Lantern of Sector 2814 to be the next Green Lantern for the Sector (which includes Earth). The Green Lantern Corps are basically space cops, who use these rings that can create anything that the ringbearer can imagine.
Hal basically went on to become the most successful Green Lantern there ever was. He also helped co-found the Justice League of America.
Years later, Hal embarked on a tour of America with his Justice League teammate, Green Arrow. The series of adventures were written by Denny O'Neil and drawn by Neal Adams, and are well regarded classics to this day.
It begins when Hal is convinced by Oliver to take down the previously shown seemingly law-abiding slumlord...
Fair enough story, but then there is an "explosive epilogue" that ties in with what the book was saying earlier about Hal's oath...
This sent Hal searching for the "real" America.
Sadly, years later, Hal appeared to have snapped after his hometown of Coast City was destroyed by a bad guy. It appeared as though Hal was now a villain called Parallax. He even tried to recreate the entire universe!!
Hal then sacrificed himself to re-ignite the Sun, which had gone out. He returned as the human host for the Spectre, but soon, we learned that not all was right with Hal.
As it turned out, Parallax had possessed Hal back when he became a villain, and IT was responsible for him being a bad guy. Once free of the possession, Hal helped rebuild the Corps that he had destroyed while possessed by Parallax, and he once again became the most notable Green Lantern out there!
In the New 52, Hal kept mostly the same, only recently, he went undercover to root out some bad guys and was tragically stranded undercover when the rest of the Green Lantern Corps vanished. So now Hal is a seemingly rogue ex-Lantern, trying to figure out WHAT the heck to do next.
7. Flash (Barry Allen) - 1853 points (27 first place votes)
Barry Allen was a police scientist when a bolt of lightning hit a bunch of chemicals which splashed upon Barry, making him gain the power of super-speed!
Inspired by his boyhood hero, the Flash (Jay Garrick, who was actually living on a separate Earth!), who Barry read about in comics, Barry became the NEW Flash, with a snazzier outfit than Jay's. Barry was created by Gardner Fox, Bob Kanigher and Carmine Infantino.
For years, the Flash was a steady force for good, as a solo hero and as a founding member of the Justice League of America.
Sadly, tragedy struck the Flash after he married his longtime love, Iris West, when his rival, Professor Zoom, murdered Iris. Some time later, when Barry was prepared to move on an re-marry, Zoom showed up again to kill Barry's NEW wife! Barry stopped him, but in the process, killed Zoom.
This haunted Barry for quite awhile.
Good news came to him, though, when he discovered that his wife, Iris, was not actually dead, but living in the future! Barry joined her there, and the two WOULD have lived happily ever after, if not for the events of the Crisis on Infinite Earths, where Barry had to come out of retirement to stop the evil Anti-Monitor.
Barry was successful in his attempt to stop the Anti-Monitor from destroying Earth, but in the process, Barry died in one of the most iconic comic book deaths of all-time...
He returned many years later (after his nephew Wally had taken over as the Flash) and picked up right where he left off, including his marriage to Iris.
In the New 52, Barry was pretty much rebooted (including making him single and never having been married, as he was de-aged, as well).