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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

Favorite Fictional Characters, #335: Ozymandias

King of kings, he ain't.

Watchmen likely deserves its praise as perhaps the finest graphic novel the medium has produced. It's layered and compelling without being overwrought, gritty without overly indulgent voyeuristic violence, and thought-provoking without treacly proselytizing. The art is servicable, the writing razor-sharp, and the characters so well-drawn that they consume the pages they adorn. These are three-dimensional human (or at least mostly human) souls, super-powered but flawed, and not just in the trite or overused ways so often used by lazy comic creators. These guys and gals have fears and doubts about what they do and why, to the point that they actually hang up the cowls (though certainly the Keene Act contributed to those retirements as well). Many of them could have appeared here, from the twisted Rorschach to the weary Nite Owl to the Vision/Vulcan Dr. Manhattan. My favorite, though, is Ozymandius.

Adrian Veldt, or Ozymandius, is the smartest person in the world. He's Reed Richards with the physical perfection of Steve Rogers, Lex Luthor with Bruce Wayne's billions. He's so smart that he's really above this whole street-level cops and robbers game that the costumed rabble plays, his attention and prowess much more useful at addressing global crises such as imminent nuclear conflict. Utterly ruthless, totally competent, Ozymandias seeks to save and deliver humanity, unifying the world under his rule like a latter-day Alexander. There's Doom's megalomania in him, but there's humor too, and charisma. Underneath that golden veneer, though, he's a stone-cold killer. He knows the right thing to do, and is so convinced of his rectitude that he wastes no concern on the doubts or opinions or even the lives of lesser animals.

Like the Ozymandias of Shelley's famous verses, Veldt seeks to carve his name on eternity. And like that same Ozymandias, the sands of time with grind his grand ambitions to powder.

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