Dead, But Not Buried?

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What does a dead comic book hero mean? The first thought that pops into my head is that we as human beings get very emotionally involved regarding fictional characters in mediums such as cartoon strips, books, movies and television. The passing of an actor who we knew only as a TV or movie character fills us with great sadness, like "Coach" on Cheers, Peter Sellers as "Inspector Closeau" or Alan Hale as the "Skipper' on ' Gilligan's Island'. We also get emotionally involved in the death of the fictional character itself like 'Captain Kirk' in 'Generations' or the passing of 'Flash' and 'Supergirl' in the 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' mini-series. In the Marvel universe that would correspond to the passage of 'Bucky" in Captain America and of course, 'Gwen Stacy' in 'Spiderman. However, does dead refer to no more viewings of this character? There was the 'Gwen Stacy' Clone, the reappearance of 'Bucky' in the graphic novel "Captain America and Nick Fury: The Otherworld War" set in World War II, the fake Barry Allen, the other dimensional Barry Allen and numerous flashback stories in Flash. Or does dead mean the character never reappears in a story again, like the Commando 'Junior Juniper' killed off in Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos # 4? The subject is up for debate, but the partial list of comic book characters is as follows (any errors or omissions are due to my failing memory):

Characters killed off or presumed dead and returned to life:

Green Arrow
Green Lantern (as the Spectre)
Supergirl (sort of)
Alfred Pennyworth (Batman's Butler)
Nick Fury
Jean Grey
Lex Luthor
Reed Richards
Aunt May Parker

Characters killed off, presumably permanently:

Golden Age Starman (Ted Knight)
Starman for a day (David Knight)
Golden Age Sandman (Wesley Dodds)
Golden Age Hourman
Golden Age Atom
Golden Age Mr. Terrific
Golden Age Superman
Golden Age Batman
Golden Age Robin
Silver Age Flash (Barry Allen)
Metamorpho, the Element Man
Tommy Monaghan
Nat the Hat
Gold (from the Metal Men)
Karen Page (from Daredevil)
Animal Man
The Flying (French) Fox
Challengers of the Unknown
Captain Kirk
Silver Age Legion of Super Heroes
Betty Banner
Gwen Stacy
Chase Carver
Uncle Ben Parker
Silver Age Jonathan and Martha Kent

Characters killed off, probably will return:

Mary Jane Parker

Exiled to Oblivion:

Bwana Beast
Cave Carson
Rip Hunter (Time Master)
Buddy Blanks (OMAC-One Man Army)
Congill Bill
The Vigilante
The Boy Commandos
Brother Power-the Geek
Kamandi, Last Boy on Earth
Christopher Chance
Composite Superman
Zatarra the Magician
Jerry Lewis comics
Bob Hope Comics
Batwoman (Kathy Kane)

I think we can safely say that Bucky, Gwen Stacy and Uncle Ben are not coming back in current continuity, the ultimate universe not withstanding. I love seeing comic characters return from oblivion as was the case with 'Stanley and his Monster' in Green Arrow, even though the appearance was certainly more morbid and gruesome than anything that would ever have been depicted in then 60s. While at times, bringing back a supposedly killed off character for sales (in both cases) can be annoying, it does provide a certain comfort that reality can not offer.

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