Death. It's the thing that happens when you stop living. If anyone is blown away by that revelation, then you obviously spend way too much time reading comic books, where death is just a plot point that can be reversed at any time. Death in comics doesn't work the same way as it does in real life. Not only is death often personified in comics (I'm particularly partial to Neil Gaiman's interpretation from his seminal Sandman series), but it's also easily reversible, through science (alien or human), magic, reality punching or plain lazy writing, where the writers bring a character back and just don't both explaining how. Every great comic book character has died at least once. All of DC's most famous Justice League line-up (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, The Flash (take your pick as to which), Aquaman and Martian Manhunter) have kicked the bucket at one point or another and then been miraculously fine after a short time away, as have three quarters of the Fantastic Four. Spider-Man, Mary Jane, Aunt May, Norman Osborn and Harry Osborn have all "died" at one point or another and death and resurrection have become such a recurring thing in the X-Men that they've even acknowledged it in the comics, with Charles Xavier quipping that mutant heaven doesn't have a gate, it has a revolving door. But who in all of comic book history has had the shortest spell of deadness before their inevitable resurrection. Well, after some research, I think I've found them, the Top 10 Shortest Deaths In Comic Book History.
10. Fantomex (Charlie Cluster-7) d. July 2012- r. December 2012 (5 months)
Ok, just to warn you, there's going to be a bit of a theme in this list. There's only about 3 characters who are actually noteworthy in terms of comic book history. And then we have guys like this. So, his death. Well, he didn't go in the nicest way, he gets his heart cut out by The Skinless Man whilst saving Psylocke from the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. So, as I said, not the nicest way to go, but it was a noble sacrifice in a way. And now's when it gets weird. You see Fantomex had an external nervous system called E.V.A which takes on a biomechanical form (with me so far, because I'm not exactly grasping this myself). So when Fantomex died, E.V.A survives and evolves into a human (somehow). She tries to clone him, but because the dude has 3 brains (?) it goes wrong and there ends up being 3 clones, one of which becomes evil. But, botched resurrection or not, it still counts and only happened 5 months after his original death. Did anyone actually care that much in the first place though?
9. Captain Comet (Adam Blake) d. February 2007- r. July 2007 (5 months)
Speaking of characters that could only stay dead for less than 6 months, here we have Captain Comet. Now Captain Comet is a somewhat noteworthy character, he's one of the first mutants in comics (al-be-it one belonging to DC rather than Marvel) and he was created between the Golden and Silver Ages of comics at a time when Superheroes were a no-go. However, he also disappeared from publication 3 years after his creation and wouldn't be brought back for another 20 years and even then he was never a major player. So, his death and resurrection was used as a way to garner some interest in the character. He was killed off by Lady Styx during the 52 series that DC ran for an entire year after the Infinite Crisis crossover event, where he was quite literally tortured to death. However, his psychic form survived and merged with fellow dead hero The Weird, which would then revive both somehow and Comet's original body would reform just in time for his starring role in a new Mystery In Space series, a revamp of a long defunct series DC had run during the period Captain Comet originally debuted (though Comet would never appear in the original series) which only lasted 8 issues.
8. Stardust (Lambda-Zero) d. October 2006- r. February 2007 (4 months)
Yeah, so I have no real clue who this guy is. Apparently he was a herald of Galactus, he only made one notable appearance before the series in which he was killed and that was a Beta-Ray Bill series. So not exactly up there with Superman or Captain America in terms of importance. Still, after he was "killed" by his masters energy absorbing device during the Annihilation crossover, he was deemed of significant worth to Marvel that he was brought back without much explanation only 4 months later, the reason for his resurrection given as the fact that he can't die because he's made of pure energy. And he then does nothing else of note and I can't find any information about what happens to him after Annihilation. Great job guys, what was the point?
7. Superwoman (Lucy Lane) d. May 2009- r. September 2009 (4 months)
Ok, hands up who forgot that Lois Lane had a sister (*raises hand*) or that said sister had been a superhero. Lucy Lane has actually died twice and been resurrected in very short order, first dying in 1972 (in an issue of Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane) and being resurrected just over a year later (in an issue of Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen. This was back when all of Superman's supporting characters had their own series, including Krypto the Superdog). But it's her death in 2009 that earns her a spot on this list, not only for its brevity but for its stupidity. So, Lucy managed to obtain a super-costume that had mystical qualities and had a containment field that somehow simulated the powers of a Kryptonian on Earth. Unfortunately, she's accidentally killed when Supergirl breaks the containment field whilst unmasking the new Superwoman. That's an embarrassing way to go for a superhero, being accidentally killed by another superhero who is trying to remove your costume. But don't worry because the suit later steals the life-force of some random dude and reanimates Lucy, who somehow has now become a real Kryptonian. *Shrugs* I don't know either.
6. Jimmy Olsen d. August 2009- r. December 2009 (4 months)
Speaking of Superman supporting characters, everyone's favourite bow-tie wearing, red haired young photojournalist has also had a few brushes with the reaper as well. In 2009 (again), Jimmy is investigating the origins of Codename: Assassin when he is shot twice in the chest by aforementioned assassin and falls into the ocean to his apparent death. Of course this is later revealed to be a ruse and that Jimmy had faked his own death using some faked documents and a disfigured corpse, because, as we must all remember, only Zack Snyder can kill Jimmy Olsen.
5. Gravity (Greg Willis) d. January 2007- r. April 2007 (3 months)
Again, anyone remember this guy exists? He's been part of the Great Lakes Avengers, The New Warriors and the Young Avengers for what it's worth, but all that has happened quite recently, after his death. And he managed to die within 2 years of his debut. In Beyond (the rehash of Marvels first event crossover Secret Wars) this guy somehow ends up being roped in to fight alongside guys like Hank Pym, Wasp and Spider-Man and ends up sacrificing his life holding a planet together with his powers whilst the rest of the heroes escape. He even got a huge funeral at the end of it all. Then his body got stolen almost immediately and the Fantastic Four get called in to find it (because they didn't have anything better to do at the time). Turns out he was resurrected to become a Protector of the Universe by Epoch (a character so relevant that she's not even got her own Wikipedia page, instead having a single line on the list of Marvel Comics characters R page and that line just tells you who her parents were). But on the bright side he then managed to single handily defeat Galactus.
4. Arcade d. April 2014- r. July 2014 (3 months)
No he wasn't sentenced to death for crimes against humanity due to his horrendous taste in bow-ties, though seriously what is that thing? So, this guy is apparently one of the worlds greatest assassins in the Marvel universe, despite his method of assassination being elaborate funhouses basically. Of course this is what brings about his downfall, as he is killed when some Avengers Academy recruits he has trapped in his new Murderworld escape and the survivors decide to get their revenge on the guy who tried to kill them. And he doesn't go in a good way either, he gets blown to pieces by concentrated radiation blasts. Except, nope, that was actually a clone and he was being held captive by the Masters Of Evil the whole time because reasons. And then they strap him to the front of a helicopter because why not?
3. Wonder Woman (Diana Prince) d. September 1997- r. November 1997 (2 months)
So, the 90's were a bad time to be a comic book fan because everyone went mad. Marvel went through puberty and would only publish a story if it was either a) overly complicated and made no sense, b) ultra-violent, c) full of tits or d) all of the above. Meanwhile Image was Marvel except a rip-off version and DC went all depressing and decided to kill everyone. Superman died and was resurrected in 6 months, Green Lantern and Green Arrow both stayed dead a tiny bit long and Batman got away with just having his spine snapped in half. But when it came to Wonder Woman... well first see had that biker chick phase that everyone has now agree was a bad idea and then she got turned into clay by Circe but that's very shortly reversed. Oh and then she gets beaten to death by Neron. But don't worry because 2 months later she's revived by Athena. I mean at least they gave people time to get used to the idea that Superman might actually be dead before pulling the Jesus card.
2. Steel (John Henry Irons) d. September 7th 2001- r. October 8th 2001 (1 month)
And now we get to the really ridiculous stuff. Steel, whose greatest cultural contribution is giving us Shaquille O'Neil's finest cinematic outing ever, was killed in Superman: The Man of Steel issue 116 whilst he was fighting in the Impirex War. He was trying to release Doomsday (which seemed like a good idea at the time) to fight Impirex and was killed by the Black Racer and his body trapped inside a suit of Apokaliptican armour known as the Entropy Aegis. Then in a different part of the crossover (Impulse issue 77 to be precise) his body is brought back to life and freed from the Entropy Aegis by the Black Racer on Darkseids behest as part of a deal between Darkseid and Superman at the end of the war. It was an early 2000's crossover, I don't understand it either, but still he spent 30 days being dead which isn't even enough time to be declared legally dead if he'd just gone missing. But it still isn't the shortest.
1. The Punisher (Frank Castle) d. October 28th 2009- r. November 18th 2009 (20 days)
So, this is the part were we go and do a What Were They Thinking. Ladies and Gentlemonsters, meet Franken-Castle. Frank Castle was never the easiest guy to get along with, he had a fondness for murdering criminals in increasingly inventive and horrific ways and that made him some enemies, even within the superhero community. So what would happen when the criminals took over the Marvel Universe, when Norman Osborn started his Dark Reign, surely that would be a time for the Punisher to shine right? Wrong. He got eviscerated, dismembered, disembowelled and decapitated by Daken (Wolverine's annoying emo son). So that's got to be the most grizzly death on our list so far and there's no way anyone is being resurrected after that, especially not in the same body right? Wrong, it took just over 2 weeks for Marvel to bring back Frank. He was reconstructed and revived as Franken-Castle, a new take on Frankenstein's monster, by Morbius and the Legion of Monsters. And this wasn't Zombie Punisher, he was legitimately living and breathing, though looking a bit worse for wear. And then after a few months, he got better and started to look human again, rather than like a very poorly made patchwork blanket. But just imagine how painful that would be, to have your body given the jigsaw puzzle treatment and then to be put back together after 2 weeks of laying around in your constituent parts like some sort of human build-a-bear (just stuff and sew). Oh and you've got to look in the mirror and see that face every morning. 2 weeks though. At least he hadn't had time to go rotten I guess.
So, that's our list. Any inexplicably short deaths that we've forgotten. Let us know in the comments below.
And with that