Awesome: The Order of the Stick aka: Order Of The Stick
For a webcomic starring stick figures, The Order of the Stick has quite a lot of these. For the sake of the servers, please refrain from marking everything that happens as one of these.
Also, expect massive unmarked spoilers.
Vaarsuvius: Bah!! You are clearly only hiring me because I intimidated you intellectually, to the point where your masculine pride requires you to establish your dominance over my superior mind. Roy: Maybe. Or maybe I'm hiring you because I require the creation of a managed spherical energy release with a thermal signature no less than 1850° Kelvin, which can be manifested at specific X, Y, and Z coordinates from verbal cues. I require this specific temperature because it is the minimum level at which necrotized epidermis has been proven to combust and I have reason to believe that my mission will require the incapacitation of multiple post-organic hostiles. Vaarsuvius: So... you need Fireball spells to toast the undead you expect to fight? Roy: Did I stutter? Vaarsuvius: A pleasure to serve under you, sir. Roy: Welcome aboard. Now get me a new table.
"Rematch". Yes, he failed; yes, Azure City was taken; and, yes, this still counts as a CMOA. Roy risked (and lost) his life to avenge a man he never knew for a father he never loved, but more importantly for the lives of friends and thousands of innocent people. He did this from a sense of courage and honor that makes most Paladins seem like cutthroats in comparison, and even though he lost, we'll always know that he tried.
Just to be perfectly clear: Roy goads Thog into using Roy's own body as a battering ram to damage the pillars supporting the roof...
This fight is so awesome that Elan's father congratulates him on it even though he destroyed part of the arena. One of the guards asks for an autograph.
It's worth pointing out that, right before Mr. Scruffy knocked Sir Scraggly into the arena, Roy was overpowering hulked-out Thog.
His ambush of the Linear Guild. With just a smoke arrow and a holy word, he manages to separate one member with a trap, flat out defeat another, and deafen most of the rest including one spellcaster that requires exact pronunciation, incapacitating half the guild in one swoop and disorienting the rest. As if that wasn't enough, when Nale rushes to get his sword, he gets ambushed by Belkar, and immediately attempts to put the latter into a suggestion spell... and fails because Belkar was also deafened by the holy word.
Elan's very first Awesome Moment, chronologically, is when he meets Roy in On the Origin of PCs. Roy's having trouble recruiting adventurers, so Elan sets him straight by having him dress as a Mysterious Stranger and sit in the corner of a tavern. Just when Roy's ready to pack it in, a line of adventurers are at his table! That's right, if Elan hadn't used his Genre Savvy to help a complete stranger, the Order of the Stick might never have been formed.
Elan gets one in "Death from Above" after Taking a Level in Badass. Directly after that entrance he starts cutting up his brother, who wasn't expecting a fight at all. When his brother regroups and attacks him with reinforcements, Elan manages to duel his brother (an expert swordsman) and creates an illusion to scare Thog (a Teletubby!) at the same time.
Even more awesome if you think about it. He showed real emotional maturity by being willing to accept that his perfect world is so unlikely as to be functionally impossible. A real change from his usual childish "the heroes always win" optimism. Not long ago it took burning people alive to make him see that his father was Evil.
Not only that, he shows his growth by acknowledging his wishes were "childish ideas that never should have happened" and his family is "screwed up and broken". His maturity allows him to face reality, even at the cost of the happy ending he always wanted.
V recognizes that Kubota is evil and blasts him away in one shot, thus saving the crew time in dealing with yet another villain. Also, that mustache did not do him any favors.
V versus the elder dragon. It may have been brutal, it may have been evil, but it was undeniably awesome.
V's second chance: although defeated, terrified, beaten to within an inch of zir life and with no spells that can help against an Epic-level Lich... giving up zir chance of Feather Falling out of the tower to safety to go back to heal O-Chul. Also doubles as a CMOA and somewhat Big Damn Heroes moment for Blackwing, as he shows up exactly when his particular skill set, as a super-advanced flying stealth dinosaur, are exactly what O-Chul and V need to save the day. The fact that he wasn't able to drop the phylactery into the rift doesn't detract.
This is even more apparent in zir rematch with Zz'dtri, who's tailored his entire build to defeat V. After spending the majority of the duel blasting away to no effect, V realizes that by focusing on zem exclusively, he'd exposed a huge weakness to archers. So V brainwashes the Linear Guild's current Belkar counterpart, who has dual crossbows and has him go to town. Keep in mind ze starts his counter attack with Haley's threefavoritewords and finishes by keeping control of zir temper and resisting Zz'dtri's taunts.
Double-teaming Qarr with Blackwing to get the information that yes, V was responsible for hir actions during the soul splice (which the audience already knew), who Qarr is really working for, and that Roy and the others are no longer in the same location they were in when V fell down the hole. All in one page.
Even more awesome now that the consequences of the Holy Word are clear: Sabine gets sent back to her plane and both Nale and Zz'dtri have gone deaf... as well as Belkar.
In a non-physical example, Durkon's stubborn refusal to back down in the face of honeyed words, biased offers and the unspoken threat of death before him... To save Belkar, of all people. Sometimes that dwarven attitude works.
Just when you think he couldn't top it, he undergoes a fullblownVision Quest, and recovers from his coma just in time to kick simply ungodly amounts of ass. In short order: he slaughters half the Thieves' Guild (aided by Mr. Scruffy and the cleric), seduces the Guild's bard/rogue/sorceress mid-battle, saves Haley, and shows a more refined level of cruelty by not killing Crystal or Old Blind Pete (instead leaving him to the cleric who Pete just betrayed). In Belkar's own words: "Solve a man's problems with violence, help him for a day. Teach a man to solve his problems with violence, help him for a lifetime." Also shows himself capable of being a fantastic team player, perhaps the most important development.
It was Belkar's idea to save bounty hunters Gannji and Enor from being executed in the gladiator arena by unleashing the Allosaurus normally kept to devour gladiators to shield them from the arrows fired at them. But he lets Ian, the one who picked the lock to the dinosaur's cage in the first place, take the credit.
On an interesting note, this may be Belkar's first CMoA that doesn't incorporate any violence at all.
In Start of Darkness, Xykon defeats Dorukan while giving an evil "World of Cardboard" Speech, followed by his brutal crushing of Redcloak's will. One line that stands out in light of some of Redcloak's claims of being the one who is manipulating Xykon:
Xykon: Oh, Redcloak. Don't confuse not caring with not knowing.
Redcloak: Oooo, I'm sorry, this party is invitation only, and you? You're not on the list. If you have any questions, you'll have to take it up with my assistant. His name is "15d6 Points of Whirling Death for Humans". Tsukiko: Fine. Where can I find him? Redcloak: Right here. Blade Barrier. Tsukiko: AAAH! HEY! I am SO telling Xykon about this! Redcloak: Yeah? Don't forget to mention the elemental. Tsukiko: Huh? Mention what about the elemental? Chlorine elemental:kill all humans.
Handing Hinjo his ass with one spell is a huge heads up, not only to the party but also to the readers, that for all the bowing and scraping he does for Xykon, Redcloak is not someone to underestimate.
Redcloak's effortless defeat of the resistance, with "implode" as additional Nightmare Fuel.
Directly followed by his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Tsukiko and the Nightmare Fuelthat follows. And the real kicker here? Redcloak controls Xykon. Not the other way around like the entire rest of the comic would have you believe. Every insult, humiliation, and frustration Redcloak has suffered is one he allowed to happen so he could maintain his subtle control over Xykon's actions. And then he goes and proves it by outright telling Xykon he killed her and basically manipulating the truth so that he leads Xykon to the conclusions he wants him to make without even having to lie.
These two probably count as O-Chul's CMOA as well, reaching the heart of such a creature.
O-Chul's performance in the episode of "Dead or Alive?" made an instant Memetic Badass out of the last survivor of the Sapphire Guard. On top of the events in that comic, his captors have apparently been doing this to him for months, and upping the ante each time — and he's still going.
O-Chul: It's Xykon's spell list. Or most of it, anyway. Roy: Are you kidding?!? How did you get this?? O-Chul: One saving throw at a time.
Meaning that O-Chul has seen or experienced every single one of those spells and lived to tell about it. Or, to put it another way: he was tortured for months on end, and still managed to collect and retain all this information in case he managed to escape. O-Chul is awesome.
Kazumi: So what are the rest of you spineless mother%$@ers waiting for? I'm a goddamn baby-making, life-taking MACHINE! Why should I care how many people I have to kill? I can just make MORE in my TUMMY!
More importantly, he distracted Redcloak long enough for Niu to escape. Sure, Redcloak killed him, but the taunt did make Redcloak pause long enough to monologue at Thanh about how the taunt won't affect him, not realizing that Niu is escaping.
Lien claims that if any hobgoblin approaches, she'll use her Blade on a Stick to gut them like the Catch of the Day. She wipes out dozens.
Nale manages to lure the Order to Cliffport under the pretense of kidnapping Roy's little sister, while in reality the whole trip and ensuing battle is an elaborate plan to isolate Elan, steal his identity (Nale and Elan are twins), frame him for the mass homicides Nale himself had been committing for several weeks prior, have him imprisoned, and supplant him among the Order as they leave town for another country. Just so you know, it's executed to perfection. Here's the definitive scene.
And he was going to kill Haley too, after seducing her. He almost pulled it off, even after Elan came crashing back to save the day, by magically manipulating Elan to think that she was the Linear Guild's spy, temporarily turning them against one another.
Tarquin laying it all out: even if Elan defeats him, overthrows his empire, and slays him, Tarquin still wins, by sheer virtue of the awesome story that will result that will immortalize him as a legendary villain remembered for all time. And the real kicker is that once Elan runs away in horror at the realization, the final panel is of Tarquin calmly sipping his drink, basking in the moment.
Tarquin: If I win, I get to be a king. If I lose, I get to be a legend.
"Parental Insight" contains two: First is him revealing he knew the Order was an adventuring party all along, but put the band back together for his benefit... but not for catching Nale, since he would never leave the city. How does Tarquin know this? As the strip's title says, parental insight...and because he got a Ring of True Seeing for his birthday. Cue an invisible Nale shitting himself as Tarquin smiles at him. Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny too.
One word: HARM. Awesome because this is the closest Nale had ever been to death, and that single spell completely changed the dynamic of the fight. Also, notably he follows it up with another damaging spell in what is considered one of the best cleric combos in the game. Guy knows his stuff.
THEN, during his duel with Durkon, he uses gaseous form to escape a losing battle, allowing Durkon to free Belkar... who has been affected by Malack's vampiric Hypnotic Eyes and immediately attacks Durkon, causing Durkon to both waste a couple spell slots and allowing Malack time to heal himself. Seems that Tarquin's Dangerously Genre Savvy rubs off.
It also turns out that as he is a vampire and will live much longer than any of his teammates, he will control all three empires once they die. Tarqin's actually fine with it since it means his empire will continue, all he asked was that Malack get him a bigger statue later on.
Malack also put a backdoor in the Death Ward he and Durkon created together that allowed him to dispel it with a single word, just in case he'd need to fight Durkon. He promptly helps himself to Durkon's blood.Dangerously Genre Savvy doesn't begin to cover it. And his staff can speed up the vampirification process so he doesn't have to bury those he turns for three days and wait when he's in a rush. Just WOW. The guy is officially as Crazy-Prepared as his boss.
Ancient Black Dragon: I am curious, however... what would happen if we turned the magic off? Anti-magic Field. Fascinating. It appears you cease to be a mighty wizard and become a fragile pointy-eared monkey. While I? (seizes V in mid-fall and slams the elf into a cliff) I am still a dragon.
V's mate, after seeing him/her/it take down a dragon with ease, stands between V and the children armed only with a stick.
The IFCC (Inter-Fiend Coordination Commission)'s entire lineup so far. Basically singlehandedly getting a character to cross the Moral Event Horizon, have him/her know (s)he's doing so by taking this, and generally reaching full Magnificent Bastard status in a rather short time... And while the temptation itself is all about a very nasty goal, they then proceed to pull out an interdimensional TV set and watch what transpires — revealing how deep their Magnificent Bastard status really is, while quickly becoming a comic foil to the very dramatic scenes to follow.
A super-pissed off Thog giving Roy a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown in the gladiator pit. He may have lost in the long run, but he did beat a high-leveled main character so bad that it actually made Roy, Determinator that he is, give up and try to surrender... and then Thog beat him even more.
Thog: STOP TALKING!
Kickstarter Project a.k.a.: The Fans
Rich Burlew wanted to do a fundraiser on Kickstarter to see if he could raise enough money to fund the reprint of War And XPs. He wasn't expecting much, thinking that he wouldn't even get the $57,750 he needed, and joking that at least he'll have an excuse as to why he doesn't do another print run. What happened instead blew him, and countless others away. He made the $57,750 within a day and a half, before finally coming to a grand total of $1,254,120 by 14,952 backers. Put in perspective:
That's an average of about $83.87 per person.
That's an average of about $40,455.48 per day.
That's 2,127% funded from the initial goal of $57,750.
That's only the third project to surpass a million on Kickstarter.
That's the most funded project by a single person (rather than a company), ever, on Kickstarter.
That's enough to fund a size increased print run for 7 books (whatever a print run is, plus 2000 extra), plus all the included swag.
That's enough that after taking into account all the swag funding, the print costs, the local taxes, and the postage, Rich actually ran out of ideas on what to spend it all on. He opted for site and comic maintenance, plus some extra for funding assorted projects.
At the time, that was the second most amount pledge to a kickstarter project. Admittedly, it has since been surpassed so many times it's not even in the top 10, but it was an accomplishment.
During the last hour of the kickstarter, fans checking the progress of the kickstarter actually brought down the entire server for Kickstarter.