That Boundless Wreck
We first encounter Ozymandias hiding out in Nite-Owls abandoned bunker where he’s working with Rorschach on a final, desperate plan to save the world. Having recruited the supervillain Marionette — who brought along her unhinged mute husband, The Mime — Ozymandias laments the fall of his empire, noting the irony in the name he took for his costumed identity. In the fiction of his world, Adrian Veidt took the name Ozymandias as a reference to the Egyptian pharaoh Rameses II, but the name has a more symbolic meaning beyond that. Moore named the character — originally based on Charlton’s Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt — as a reference to Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem of the same name, about a monument to the pharaoh proclaiming his legacy’s immortality, only for it to have been worn away by the sands of time.
The penultimate issue of Watchmen takes its title from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s famous poem, but the debut issue of Doomsday Clock takes its title from a different poem of the same name. At the same time as Shelley was writing his Ozymandias, his friend Horace Smith was writing his own — a common practice among literary circles of the time was to challenge each other to broach the same subject. Smith’s Ozymandias is a lot less subtle than Shelley’s, pointing out that just as their society looks back on the ruins of ancient Egypt, one day in the future someone will look back on London the same way. This could be a self-aware nod from Geoff Johns to the fact that he’s a much more literal and bombastic writer than Moore, but it’s likely included due to its more overt themes of the fleeting nature of modernity, as the society of Watchmen — with all of its electric cars and other future technology — begins to crumble.
The Lone And Level Sands
Veidt himself is also heading towards a similar fate, as he recently discovered a brain tumor that is not only slowly killing him as it spreads but it’s taking away what is more precious to him, his treasured intellect. With no other recourse and the world on the brink of oblivion, Veidt has one plan left; a hail mary to save the world: find Dr. Manhattan and convince him to return. Jon Osterman has been missing since the mid-eighties, last seen by Veidt himself when he told Ozymandias that he was “leaving this galaxy for one less complicated”. The implication on the next page is that universe is indeed the DC Universe, as hinted at way back in DC Universe Rebirth #1.
It’s ironic that Adrian Veidt spearheaded the effort to break down Dr. Manhattan’s relationship with humanity by manufacturing cancer in those closest to him, only for Ozymandias to now need him to return after developing cancer himself. It’s a punishment he deserves — the least of what he deserves for what he’s done to the world — and by being forced to humble himself in front of the being Rorschach refers to as “god” is a suitable atonement for his sins. We now know what Ozymandias’ next move is, but we don’t yet know how he’s going to achieve it or what an unpowered common criminal like The Marionette has to do with Dr. Manhattan’s return, but we’ve already seen that as smart as Veidt is, he isn’t as smart as he thinks he is and he doesn’t always foresee the consequences of his actions.