2. Captain America (Steve Rogers) - 3532 points (81 first place votes)
Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Steve Rogers was not accepted into the Army, so the next best thing he could do was volunteer as a test subject for a new Super Soldier Serum. The serum transformed the weak Rogers into a lean, mean fighting machine.
As Captain America, Rogers was the great Super Soldier for America against the Nazis, along with his partner, Bucky Barnes. His main enemy was the Nazi Red Skull. Tragically, towards the end of the war, an explosion seemingly killed both of the men, although in reality, Captain America was just placed into a state of suspended animation.
He was revived years later by the Avengers...
How much of a stunning example of Captain America's coolness is that? He wakes up twenty years in the future and he basically just has a quick freak out and then he pulls a Fonzie and suddenly he's totally calm.
Then, for good measure, he's like, "Hey, bunch of powerful looking folks I just met, I bet I can kick all of your asses." And then he pretty much DOES JUST THAT!
That "try to conquer me" panel is just a stunning display by Kirby. So much casual awesomeness there.
He fought alongside SHIELD, which was headed up by his former World War II buddy, Nick Fury. There he met Agent 13, Sharon Carter, who would be his companion for quite awhile. Soon, he met up with a new superhero named the Falcon. The two would become partners for quite awhile (even having Cap's book retitled Captain America and the Falcon).
Along the way, Captain America would often come into conflict with his own government, like when he learned that the head of the Secret Empire was the President of the United States!!
Man, it is crazy how modern Captain America comics are just too political. What I wouldn't give for the good old days, when the President of the United States is shown to be a crook and then kills himself in front of Captain America. The classic writers like Steve Englehart knew how to keep politics out of their book about Captain America.
There are too many good Captain America moments, so I'll settle for this bit at the end of Mark Waid and Ron Garney's sadly short run on the book. You see, Sharon Carter has this piece of information that she is using to lure an Asian warlord out of hiding so she can assassinate him. She figures that with him dead, the government he formed would collapse, and eventually resistance fighters will build up to the point where they can rescue all the people stuck in a prison camp (a prison camp that Carter herself spent some time in in the past). When Cap sees the prison camp, well, he has a different take on WHEN the situation will be settled...
Recently, Steve Rogers basically had the Super Soldier Serum sucked out of his body, so he is now roughly a 90-year-old man, although an incredibly fit 90-year-old man. His old partner, Sam Wilson, has taken over as Captain America. However, he and Steve are not seeing eye to eye these days in Sam's ongoing series.
1. Spider-Man (Peter Parker) - 5099 points (257 first place votes)
Created by Ben Cooper Inc. (I kid, I kid), Created by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee, Peter Parker was a typical high school nerd who was bitten by a radioactive spider, which gave him superpowers. He used his powers first to gain glory, but when he allowed a crook to get away because he couldn't be bothered to stop him, he soon learned a hard lesson in responsibility when the crook he let escape went on to kill his beloved Uncle Ben.
Parker then decided he would be a hero, no matter what befell him, and a lot of tragedy has happened to him since then.
He began taking pictures of himself as Spider-Man, and selling them to the Daily Bugle, where J. Jonah Jameson used the pictures to cast Spider-Man in a bad light.
As for the tragedy thing mentioned before, his beloved Aunt May has been sick many times. His first love, Gwen Stacy, was murdered by an enemy. The enemy turned out to be the father of a friend of his, Norman Osborn. His friend, Harry Osborn, then was turned against Peter, as well. He sacrificed his own marriage to Mary Jane Watson to save Aunt May's life, thereby erasing his marriage from the history of the Marvel Universe.
But Spider-Man keeps on keeping on.
Your uncle die because you made a mistake? You dedicate your life to being responsible to protect others!
Aunt May gets sick? Well, then you lift some heavy stuff to save her, consarnit!
You get buried alive by some crazy villain? You dig yourself out!
You have your own body taken over by a villain? You fight your way back into control (in part by inspiring your enemy to see your side of life)!
Currently, in his new ongoing series, Peter is dealing with his company becoming a major success, to the point where he now is rocking a Tony Stark/Iron Man situation where Spider-Man is officially Peter Parker's bodyguard. High adventure around the world ensues!
That's the list! Thanks for voting, everyone!