Easiest "in story" ways to bring a comic book character back from the dead?

It’s an old [del]joke[/del] standby that comic book characters never stay dead—it’s only a matter of time until editorial fiat or artistic whim brings most of them back from the grave.

But I’m wondering: Aside from retcons and fake-outs (e.g. “oh, he wasn’t really dead, that was a robot double”), what are the easiest procedures for bringing someone back to life, in-story? Something that can be carried out at least fairly reliably, and fairly on-demand?

DC’s got the Lazarus Pits—alchemical cauldrons that can heal and revitalize the wounded and aged, and even reanimate the dead. Downsides being their rarity, usage limitations, and causing temporary insanity.

Marvel’s ninja clan “The Hand” apparently has the ability to bring people back to life through occult means—I’m a bit fuzzy on the details, however. The film version seemed to accomplish this by a simple combination of pressure points and shouting.

I think Marvel’s also got at least a couple of mutant healers who can revive the dead, but I don’t know offhand who, or how many of them there are. (Or why they aren’t the most valuable, heavily defended people on the planet, but nevermind.)
So, that’s all I’ve got. Can anyone else chime in?

And no, for this discussion, bringing someone back as a mindless zombie does not count. Nor does merely cloning them and imprinting the clone with the deceased’s memories—not without at least some lip service to transferring the deceased’s unique soul/life force/katra/spark/“mind”/whatever into the clone.

It’s basically the in-story version of a retcon, so it might not count, but do comic books ever make use of time travel to undo deaths? That was the plot of a Family Guy episode last year.

Alternate timeline version?

There’s the Orpheus Option. The afterlife is essentially treated like a geographic location. A character died? No problem, just go to Heaven or Hell and find them. Then bring them back to Earth and they’re alive again.

Marvel’s Alpha Flight had a self-parodying sequence where Vindicator (whom we all saw die when his suit exploded) came back from the dead. He gave a very lengthy, very complicated explanation (I can’t remember half of it.) Everybody said, “Wow!” Then it turned out, no, it was an imposter who just made up some pseudo-scientific claptrap.

Actually kinda funny.

In DC, at one point (after the death and return of Superman) Blue Beetle and Booster Gold were about to do something dangerous. One of them said, “This is really dangerous. We could get killed. Whatever that means.”

Some of this goes back to DC in the 1960s with their (ugly and stupid) penchant for dream stories, hoax stories, imaginary stories (is there another kind?) and alternate world stories. They’d kill Lois Lane…and then reveal that it was just on Earth-35 or something.

(DC really, really sucked toads in those days.)

ETA: Oops, misread. I thought the OP asked “earliest” not “easiest.”

ETA: No, I mean literally. They put toads in their mouths.

Last I looked, which has been quite a while ago, Marvel’s go-to resurrection means was usually some cosmic-level something or other…deus ex machina in tights…a being of Beyonder-level powers or Infinity Gems or some other gimmick. Wipe out half the galaxy, then restore it all when another character swipes whatever caused it and simply reverses it (wiping everyone’s memory in the process so that “it never happened”). This device ended up boring pretty quick; just like their yearly apocalyptic “The End of Everything!” miniseries, you just limited how much further you can go next time.

That does give me the amusing image of some guy like Maelstrom who has been using the “series of clones imprinted with his memories” form of resurrection showing up in the afterlife only to find it to be a room full of a dozen or so duplicates of himself.

“Yeah, about that ‘immortality via mind-copies in clones’ idea you had; well, we’ve got some bad news about that for you.”

Alternate Earth or clones seem to be among the easiest standbys.

Considering some of the stories they had back then, licking toads actually seems pretty plausible.

5 Absurd Ways Comic Books Have Resurrected Dead Superheroes

Given Beetle’s fate and staydeadness…that’s funny.

Back in the mid 1970s, during one of the Justice League’s annual “Crisis” story-lines, the bad guys wiped out the Justice Society. Later, they suddenly re-appear, alive and healthy, with no explanation. In the epilogue, it turns out to be the Specter. Resurrection was slightly beyond his power, but he just prayed to his boss, and it was done.

Jenette Kahn?

Off the top of my head, ways the X-Men have (actually) died and come back:

Angel: Got stabbed with a Life Seed, which basically rebooted him in his original form, but removed all his memories
Nightcrawler: Died and went to Heaven; went the X-Men showed up and needed his help, he sold his soul to the Bamfs to return to Earth (aka the “Orpheus Option” Little Nemo mentioned)
Banshee: Resurrected as a Horseman of Death by the Apocalypse Twins, using a Death Seed
Colossus: Resurrected by alien technology
Psylocke: Her brother used reality-warping powers to reach backwards in time for her soul
Emma Frost: Shot while in diamond form, Jean Grey used her Phoenix powers to resurrect her
Magik: Body was recreated by a demon, and the body later merged with a soul gem containing her soul

For that matter, there’s the Specter himself: If you can’t bring a character back bodily, just bring back their ghost. Almost no justification is needed for that one.

In both comics and serial literature, mistaken identity (either intentional or accidental) seems to be the most common and straightforward way.

Hey, it worked for Captain Metropolis and Hooded Justice… :smiley:

In Excalibur, Galactus killed the Rachel Summers Phoenix by putting her in the Phoenix Killing Box and pushing the big red button, decided that was a bad idea and pushed the other button, which brought her back to life. So, kind of a specific way in which to be brought back, but it was as easy as pushing a button.