It was during this journey that he consumed a ball of hashish and decided to become a superhero. Returning to America, he named himself "Ozymandias" and became a costumed vigilante, focusing particularly on organized crime and earning a reputation as "the smartest man on the planet." However, his own cases robbed him of the idealistic belief that battling crime would truly lessen evil and suffering in the world. This was brought to a head when an abortive attempt to organize a new superhero team was disrupted by the Comedian, who noted in his brutally apt way exactly how petty the doings of the costumed heroes were in a world where the threat of nuclear war hung overhead, and how powerless they were to stop it. Veidt was inspired to do just that.
In 1975, two years before vigilante crimefighters (superheroes) are banned by the "Keene Act," he retires from superheroism, marketing his image for money. This helps bankroll his scheme of creating a catastrophic event to deceive the world that there is a horrific alien common enemy to unite against. To that end, he employed geneticists to clone the stolen brain of a murdered psychic and use it to create such a creature with a group of artists and creative personnel to help create the illusion. Upon completion, he arranged the murder of all of his accomplices to maintain the illusion.
To prevent Doctor Manhattan from interfering, he hired old associates of the superhero and secretly exposed them to radiation to induce terminal cancer in them, then engineered a rumor that Manhattan was responsible, causing Manhattan to exile himself to Mars.