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Ozymandias ( ), real name Adrian Veidt, is a fictional character appearing in the comic book limited series Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, published by DC Comics. Named Ozymandias in the manner of Ramesses II, he is a modified version of the comic book character Thunderbolt from Charlton Comics. His name recalls the famous poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley, which takes as its theme the fleeting nature of empire and is excerpted as the epigraph of one of the chapters of Watchmen. Ozymandias made it to number 29 on Wizard's Top 200 Comic Book Characters list and also number 25 on the Top 100 Villains list.
Adrian Veidt was born in 1939, the son of rich German immigrant parents. As a child, he received high grades in school, and it was noted that he was very intelligent. He then hid this information from his elders and peers by deliberately achieving average marks. After his parents' deaths, he inherited their substantial fortune at the young age of 17, but he chose to give it all to charity and embark on a vision quest, following the route of his childhood idol Alexander the Great. His rationale was that he wanted to be free from money and make something of himself on his own, from nothing. During an excursion into the Middle East, Veidt consumed a ball of hash and developed visions of the past. At the conclusion of his travels, in Egypt, he realized that Alexander the Great was a pale imitation of Ramesses II, and he became Veidt's new hero. Returning to America after a year of traveling, Veidt named himself Ozymandias and became a costumed vigilante, earning a reputation as "the smartest man on the planet." He debuted in early 1958 by exposing a drug ring in New York City. During the early 1960s, he was a member of the Crimebusters, which was organized by former Minuteman and adventurer Captain Metropolis, who sought to re-form a new version of his old team.
Due to the increasingly negative perceptions of vigilantes by the media, Veidt predicted that the public would turn away from them. Two years before vigilante crimefighters were banned by the "Keene Act," Veidt revealed his secret identity, retired from superheroism and marketed his image, while maintaining an ethical streak—he never marketed the images of his allies or foes, despite having a decently sound legal loophole to do so. He became the richest man in the world and was known as a great humanitarian, and he used this to bankroll his secret scheme of creating a catastrophic event to deceive the world into uniting against a common enemy and thus avert nuclear war. Upon completion of his project, Veidt planned to murder all of his (unwitting) accomplices and arrange the psychological deterioration and self-exile of the presumably invincible Doctor Manhattan.
Fellow masked vigilante the Comedian (Edward Blake) stumbled upon Veidt's plans, leading to Veidt personally murdering the Comedian, setting off the chain of events told in the story of Watchmen, which begins several hours after the murder of the Comedian.
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