Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #23!
This is the twenty-third in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous twenty-two.
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Bruce Banner got a new first name due to Stan Lee’s forgetfulness.
In the early days of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee was writing a lot of comic books. Not only was he writing a lot of comic books, but he was writing a lot of CHARACTERS, as some of the books he was writing had two features in them (like Tales to Astonish). As a result, it was often difficult for him to remember character’s names. This was the genesis of the alliterative name for Marvel characters. It is easier to remember names when the first and last names both begin with the same letter.
However, even this did not always keep Lee from occasionally slipping up. One notable error occured about two and a half years into Marvel’s existence, where Lee began referring (for more than a couple of months) to the Incredible Hulk’s alter ego as “Bob Banner” rather than the “Bruce Banner” that he was originally named.
Responding to criticism of the goof, Stan Lee, in issue #28 of the Fantastic Four, laid out how he was going to handle the situation, “”There’s only one thing to do-we’re not going to take the cowardly way out. From now on his name is Robert Bruce Banner-so we can’t go wrong no matter WHAT we call him!”
And that is the name he still has today, although they later changed the Robert to David for the television program.
This Urban Legend was suggested to me by Reilly Brown.