I have long been fascinated by people’s expectations of what is the “REAL” version of any given property.  I have had real conversations with people who hated Christopher Reeve as Superman because he wasn’t George Reeves, with those who disliked all John Byrne issues of X-Men because he’ll never be Dave Cockrum, and we shouldn’t even consider all the questions about which incarnation of The Doctor is best.  I have often heard the opinion that your favorite Doctor is usually the one to which you are first exposed, but I think there’s a caveat:  You have to be paying attention.  My daughter has recently decided that the Ninth Doctor is the best ever, even though she has been watching the adventures of Ten and Eleven with me for some time.

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) thinks that’s a bit undramatic, isn’t it?  Belgium? Either way, it’s asking: Do you find any truth in the “first one you see will be your favorite” rule?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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13 Comments

  1. October 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm — Reply

    No. I find that the one with the largest exposure is the “one true something.” That’s why when they change a popular superheroes costume, it doesn’t stick, because the larger public consciousness doesn’t picture them that way. But when a movie becomes popular, it changes the overall public perception of the character, which is then reflected back into the comics. See Batman and X-Men for examples, and now they’re doing it preemptively with Superman. That’s also why the “passing of the mantle” rarely sticks. If you killed Peter Prker in a movie, and introduced Miles Morales in a sequel, it might stick around in the comics. That would be an interesting experiment: see a company kill the character and replace them in a movie or TV show FIRST (widest exposure) and then see how long it takes for the character to get written out of the comic. Green Lantern 2 could kill Hal Jordan and introduce John or Kyle, and all of a sudden Hal isn’t the “one true GL” in the comics anymore.

  2. Robert Hulshof-Schmidt
    October 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm — Reply

    A qualified “yes” from me. The best Legion is the one that ended with the Magic Wars when Levitz left. 5-year Gap and DnA both have something to offer, but it’s never been the same. The best Doctor is Tom Baker, whom I saw first, but who is also the most interesting and complex IMHO. Peter Davison is a VERY close second but was the 4th Doctor I saw, FWIW.
    Reboots and redesigns have to offer something pretty compelling to overcome the emotional commitment to something as it has “always been.” Most of my exceptions (like the New 52 Aquaman and Wonder Woman) are cases where I didn’t really care for the original that much.

  3. DPDave
    October 21, 2012 at 1:14 pm — Reply

    I think this comes back to the concept of a personal continuity. Pak’s Hulk is the one true Hulk to me, but largely because the wild variations in intelligence and demeanor that different writers give the Hulk forced me to choose the version I like best and essentially ignore the rest.

    The Doctor, on the other hand, works for me in all incarnations because as of the second Doctor the variations in character between Doctors is an integral part of the concept so I don’t have to make that choice in order to enjoy that universe.

  4. Praion
    October 21, 2012 at 2:27 pm — Reply

    For My Little Pony it fits for me.

  5. ArcticPhoenix
    October 21, 2012 at 2:46 pm — Reply

    Well someones first experience to a franchise would be their baseline for the rest of the franchise; if one part of the franchise was different to another, like the Doctor Who doctors as Matthew says, then it would not be going according to the baseline and would be bad (usually). A great example would be Pokemon – hell i still think nothing but the 151 are the greatest!

    I cant think of very many exceptions to this, perhaps Star Wars? A 10 year old kid watching the Phantom Menace would later watch the original trilogy and *most likely* think it was at least ∞ times better. Assuming they werent 10 anymore.

  6. October 21, 2012 at 3:46 pm — Reply

    For me it’s about them hitting the right combination of factors. That’s why I really enjoyed Straczynski’s Thor, because in a lot of ways Thor doesn’t fit in well with other Super Heroes. He is, in fact an old school classical hero (And note how much of that was used for the movie). And that was not by far my first exposure to Thor, I probably first saw him in an old Secret Wars trade way back when.

  7. Frank
    October 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm — Reply

    Sometimes the first exposure is the most memorable and lasting. The original Star Wars is till my favorite just because I saw it in the theaters. Byrne’s Superman, while it is not the best, is my favorite because it was my first exposure to the character.

    On the other hand, Adam West was my first exposure to Batman. He certainly isn’t my favorite (though Cesar Romero is one of my favorites).

    As for the Doctor, who ever is currently cast as the character is my favorite. I have watched most of the Doctors and have enjoyed what each actor brought to the role.

  8. Oldcomicfan
    October 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm — Reply

    Well, no. I first started reading Spiderman when Steve Ditko was the artist and I hated the art (and still do). Mostly because his art reminded me of early Disney art during the rubber legged Horace Horsecollar era. IMO Ditko couldn’t draw flies on a hot day after rolling in a manure pile (and you don’t want to get me started ranting about Jack Kirby). John Romita Sr. was a much better artist than Ditka and he was my favorite Spidey artist for the longest time.

  9. B.V.K.
    October 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm — Reply

    I think there is a difference between nostalgia and something be the definitive version of a character. For example I have waxed poetic on MSQTD before about how I like 90’s era comics because they are the era I started reading on my own so guys like Venom, Carnage and Jim Lee X-Men will always be interesting to me. However I wouldn’t call any of these “the one true version” of a character. I just have my favorite versions for different reasons. Usually related to story and content over nostalgia.

  10. Eli
    October 21, 2012 at 7:28 pm — Reply

    No, I started with Tennet’s Doctor Who, but for me the best one is Matt Smith.

  11. October 21, 2012 at 8:56 pm — Reply

    While I was a fan of Tom Baker, I don’t think his character was terribly complex at all — he was basically Tom Baker playing himself as a superhero. My favorite Doctor is Sylvester McCoy, the last of the classic series, although I think you can make an argument that he was really the first “modern” Doctor (NuWho is clearly a continuation of the mode of storytelling the series used during his tenure) so perhaps the argument stands in a way.

  12. Dan Hunter
    October 22, 2012 at 1:10 am — Reply

    Best version of I’m Easy is the Faith No More cover because a)I heard it first b)Faith No More rock. So i believe I do subscribe to the my first is best.

  13. October 22, 2012 at 9:08 am — Reply

    Not really. While in many ways the first will always hold a special place (such as my first Doctor actor, my first Super Sentai team, etc), it doesn’t automatically make them my favorite. There are a lot of factors in what makes something my favorite of a lineup of many, so there are times when my first can also be my least favorite.

    I can’t even remember who the first Doctor actor I saw was exactly, but I think it was Tom Baker. However, my two favorite Doctors are Tennant and Pertwee. I’ve watched plenty of Super Sentai and Power Rangers, but my favorite series are Dekaranger and Gokaiger (although Gokaiger mainly for it’s ties to the history of the series). My first Green Lantern was Hal Jordan, but my favorites are G’nort and Kilowog. And I’m a fan of the Buffy/Angel universe but still despise the original movie.

    At the same time, my favorite Power Rangers is and probably always will be MMPR season 1, my favorite version of Battlestar Galactica is the original series, my favorite version of Being Human is the UK series and so on.

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