In super hero comics it's not unknown for a someone to die, then a few issues later get better.

But who holds the record for being dead for the longest time (real world time) and coming back?

  • 1
    Do reboots (like 52) count? – DVK-on-Ahch-To Jul 11 '12 at 18:14
  • Hasn't some company or another had a title about a mummy or the like? – John O Jul 11 '12 at 18:19
  • @DVK - Hmmm. Good question. Let's say that if at the end of the first continuity character A is still dead, then those years should be folded into the new continuity. – System Down Jul 11 '12 at 18:33
  • @JohnO - That's undead. I mean dead-dead. As in not appearing in this comic except as a flashback, clone, or imposter. – System Down Jul 11 '12 at 18:34
  • 3
    Not related at all: I got better. – NominSim Jul 11 '12 at 19:10

There may be a longer one, especially amongst the golden age heroes (specifically DC's, as I'm not as up to speed on them). I would say it is probably

James "Bucky" Barnes, 40 years, 10 months: revealed as dead in Avengers #4 (March 1964); revealed as alive in Captain America v5 #1 (January 2005)

Granted, it was retconned so that he never actually died in the first place, but I don't think that should discredit this. For all intents and purposes, he was dead as dead and intended to stay dead until Ed Brubaker had a story idea. His death was considered so permanent that he was one of three characters included in a popular phrase about comic book death:

A common expression regarding comic book death was once "The only people who stay dead in comics, are Bucky, Jason Todd, and Uncle Ben." referring to the seminal importance of those character's deaths to Captain America, Batman, and Spider-Man respectively. However, after the former two were brought back in 2005, the phrase was changed to only recognize Uncle Ben.

  • I'd assume that most candidates for this had their death retconned, so I hope that doesn't disqualify them. – user1027 Jul 11 '12 at 19:10
  • @Keen Yeah, retconning a death is pretty much the only way a character has been brought back from the dead. I think another question is, has any superhero come back from the ACTUAL dead without a retcon? – Brett White Jul 11 '12 at 19:12
  • Weren't a bunch of heroes and villains brought back from the actual dead during Marvel's recent Chaos War storyline? Also, can we work Batman's parents into the "nobody stays dead..." expression? :) – Bill the Lizard Jul 11 '12 at 19:21
  • @BilltheLizard From what I can tell, only Alpha Flight's resurrection stuck, and they had only been dead for around 5 years at the time. Between Chaos War and Necrosha, Marvel had two back to back events designed to specifically resurrect characters. – Brett White Jul 11 '12 at 19:25
  • Wow. I knew Bucky died a long time ago, I just didn't realize how long. – System Down Jul 13 '12 at 20:25

Off the top of my head, Barry Allen, the 2nd Flash is my first guess. He died in 1985 during Crisis on Infinite Earths, and returned in 2008 in Final Crisis, which is 23 years. He narrowly beats out Jason Todd (1988-2005).

I'd wonder if any Marvel folk stayed dead for a long time before returning, but don't know that universe well enough.

  • One could argue if Barry Allen's case is valid, if we consider his travels back from the future timeline, where he fathered Bart Allen's mom. He appeared twice (if I recall correctly) to help Wally West in times of need. – Wilerson Jul 11 '12 at 19:41
  • @Wilerson Yeah, between the Speed Force and his time travel to the 30th Century, Barry kept popping up from time to time. But his sacrifice in CoIE was not undone until Final Crisis. – user1027 Jul 11 '12 at 19:46

To my knowledge the longest dead character was Barry Allen (The Flash), he originally died 1985 and stayed dead for about 23 years, until 2008.

He was killed in "Crisis on Infinite Earths" and then was brought back to life during "Final Crisis".

  • And now I see Keen's answer... He must have posted a few seconds before I did. – onewho Jul 11 '12 at 19:10
  • No problem on the answer duplication. Although your answer is a little incorrect. Barry did pop up momentarily in Infinite Crisis (which he does from time to time), but his permanent return was in Final Crisis. – user1027 Jul 11 '12 at 19:25
  • @Keen: You're correct again... I remembered seeing him in Infinite Crisis and for some reason thought that was when they officially brought him back, but according to the Wiki entry he didn't actually a solid body again until Final Crisis. – onewho Jul 11 '12 at 19:49

I am not sure if this qualifies but I'd vote for the Original Human Torch

According to the Marvel Continuity it was deactivated (it is an android, after all, so being "dead" is a bit difficult to define) shortly after WWII and "came back to life" in The Avengers #133-135 (May–June 1975). This already contrived story arc was muddled again and again later, but I still think that 30 years is pretty impressive.

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