This is the last entry in the series, but I doubt it will be my last entry on comics. Yes, it's time for the genre that most people associate with comics, which in my opinion is the home to the proportionally weakest storytelling. By that, I mean that currently Marvel and DC are using the books to push issues instead of telling stories. Some of this is editorial, some is on the writers. However, they still have a pile of good stories in their past, and hopefully, the future. Other companies have great hero stories as well.
Astro City- Honestly my favorite hero book these days. Take the King/Kirby ideas of characters, and make the stories mean something. Occasionally Busiek drifts into a SocJustice story, but it's usually well written. Amazing when he just tells a story, though.
Rising Stars- I know some don't like it. I do, but I also never watched the show Heroes, which came years later. Straczynski knows storytelling, at least when he has control.
Watchmen- I can't avoid it. The movie even was rather good, though it left out a good chunk of the story. Yes, it's largely nihilistic, but there's hope in the end.
C.O.W.L.- Drop the concept of powered people into a union run Chicago, and you get a heroes union. Yes, they're separate from the police. Good writing, well portrayed corruption, and more. Including real heroes.
Common Grounds- It's a coffee shop chain that's neutral ground for good and bad guys. Filled with human stories, and sometimes a bit of comedy.
The Black Hood- Yes, Archie Comics has heroes. And an imprint that's not for kids.(Dark Circle) A cop kills a vigilante while chasing some crooks, and gets injured in the process. To help deal with the pain, he starts wearing the vigilante's hood.
Empire- This story is great. The bad guy won, took over the world, and rules with an iron fist. But he doesn't trust his inner circle, so he keeps them on a drug that is highly addictive, and enhances their abilities greatly. NOT FOR KIDS. Just sayin'.
Sidekick- One of Straczynski's newer batch of books, this follows a former sidekick who finally decides to become a bad guy, as no city will have him. False heroes fall, and insanity creeps in.
Ex Machina- While more of a political book, this follows a New York Mayor who rose to power because he had been a hero. And his past keeps coming back, through old friends, enemies, stalkers, and political intrigue.
OK. I'll now list some "regular" hero books. I'm far more into DC than Marvel, though.
The Question- The Denis O'Neil run is really cool. Zen, a VW with a Porshe engine, and other strangeness.
Moon Knight- The Warren Ellis run is all I've read, but I can say it's goood.
Batman: Go with Year One, The Long Halloween, Dark Victory, and the Dark Knight books, and you won't go wrong. Yes, there are many other good ones.
Marvels/Kingdom Come- Almost 2 sides of a coin. Both have Alex Ross' amazing artwork. One has Mark Waid, the other Kurt Busiek. Kingdom Come is about the future, and Marvels about the now.
Cable- If you HAVE to read an X-book, make it this one. He's had the best stories.
JLA- There's been a lot of incarnations. Go with JLA-Year One, and the Grant Morrison JLA. If you want laughs, go with Giffen.
Elseworlds: These are some tales of DC characters in alternate settings. Kindom Come is the best known, but lots of good ones. Superman: Red Son, Metropis/Nosferatu/The Blue Amazon, JLA: the Nail, The Secret Society of Super Heroes,and Batman: Vampire are all good.
Again, this is a selection from my reading and tastes. Not anywhere near complete in that regard, nevermind a definitive list.
When you play Social Justice, the world loses.