4. Daredevil - 2691 points (58 first place votes)
Created by Stan Lee and Bill Everett (with help from Jack Kirby), Daredevil made his debut in the pages of his own self-titled comic book in 1964. Matt Murdock was a successful attorney who was secretly the superhero Daredevil.
Matt was blind.
When Matt was a kid, he saved an old man from being hit by a truck, but the truck was carrying radioactive materials that splashed on to Matt, blinding him for life. However, the materials also ended up giving Matt a kind of superpower - all his senses were heightened, to the point where he could read newspapers just by reading the ink on the page with his finger. In addition, he gained a sort of Radar sense, like a Bat, only not sound-based, Matt just basically had a supernatural sense of where people were around him. It was how he was able to operate as a superhero, and how no one was able to connect him with blind attorney, Matt Murdock, because how could a blind guy do this?
Matt was a basic superhero for many years, during which time he was notably involved with his secretary, Karen Page, and the superhero Black Widow (they even shared his comic for awhile, as Daredevil and Black Widow). Matt's law partner, and best friend, was Foggy Nelson.
This all changed with the arrival of Frank Miller as the writer of the book.
Miller introduced an old girlfriend of Matt's called Elektra, who was a dangerous assassin. He also made Matt into a sort of a ninja, introducing a heretofore unknown sensei of Matt's called Stick. Miller also made the Kingpin, a Spider-Man mob villain, into Daredevil's arch-nemesis, while cementing the supervillain assassin, Bullseye, created a little while before Miller took over the book by Marv Wolfman, into a force to be reckoned with, even to the point of having Bullseye KILL Elektra.
Later on, Miller returned to the character, as Karen Page (who had left years ago to become an actress) was now a drug addict who sold Daredevil's secret identity. It got to the Kingpin, who then proceeded to tear apart Matt's life. In the end, though, Matt was too strong, and along with Karen, he began a new life.
Eventually, he even regained his law license.
Sadly, Bullseye struck again, this time killing KAREN, as well.
Reeling from her death, Matt was spiraling. He had his identity published in the papers and he even attempted to put HIMSELF in place as the new Kingpin of Hell's Kitchen. During this period he married Milla Donovan,, who is also blind. Matt was able to recover from this period, and even was able to refute the identity issue (although everyone pretty much thinks he is Daredevil now).
Eventually, during an epic run by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee on the character, he was forced to give up on protecting his identity and was disbarred by the New York State Bar Association. He moved to San Francisco and sort of embraced his new public life (including a new costume). More recently, though, he has returned to New York and will be training a new hero in his upcoming ongoing series by Charles Soule and Ron Garney.