20. All-Star Origin
Since his debut more than 75 years ago, Superman’s origin has been told countless times to the point of tedium, but the creative team behind All-Star Superman found a way to beautifully capture the essence of the story in the most basic way possible. On the very first page of the series, Grant Morison, Frank Quitely and Jamie Grant retell the “Man of Steel’s” origin with the use of four images and eight words: “Doomed Planet. Desperate Scientists. Last Hope. Kindly Couple.”
The page marks an economy and efficiency of storytelling that is unparalleled in the comic book medium. It also perfectly demonstrates just how powerful and subversive Superman’s origin is. This story can be told in four images and eight words because anyone who has even a modicum of interest in comic books knows this tale by heart. Superman’s origin is pop culture canon, and All-Star Superman’s confidence in that fact makes the page all the more audacious and wonderful.