Basil Karlo was a B-list movie star. When Basil hears that there will be a remake of a horror film he once stared in (The Terror) he is driven mad even though he was to be involved in the making of the film. Basil goes on a killing spree aimed at the cast and crew of the film wearing the mask of the films villain, Clayface. He is brought to justice by Batman and Robin.
Clayface was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and was first featured in Detective Comics #40.
During the golden age Basil Karlo was nothing more than a b-list actor turned crazy. He tried to kill all of his fellow actors and even Bruce Wayne's fiancée, but was stopped multiple times by Batman and Robin.
Silver Age: The 2nd Clayface - Matt Hagen
The second Clayface was Matt Hagen, a treasure hunter. Upon finding a radioactive pool of protoplasm in a cave Hagen immerses himself in it transforming his body into a mold-able substance given him the ability to change his body into nearly anything he wished although this was only a temporary effect for two days and Hagen would have to return to the pool to sustain his abilities.
Hagen later finds a way to copy the protoplasm in a lab but only giving the clay effect for five hours.
The 3rd Clayface - Preston Payne
Suffering from hyperpituitarism Payne works at S.T.A.R. Labs trying to find a cure. Payne comes across a sample of Matt Hagen’s blood, isolating an enzyme within the sample and injects it into himself. He carries on a normal life until a date goes horribly wrong. Payne starts to melt and when he reaches out for help, his date begins to melt on contact.
Payne builds himself a suit so as not to touch anyone else but soon realizes that he has to survive.
Sondra Fuller (also know as Lady Clayface) has near identical powers as Matt Hagen although hers are permanent meaning she does not need the protoplasm to maintain the abilities.
The child of Sondra Fuller and Preston Payne, Cassius was abducted from his parents and brought to a government research facility. Although the full extent of his powers are not known it was discovered that a separate part of Cassius can think -be it slightly dumb for itself and if comes into contact with a human can give them the ability to melt anything they wish by looking at it.
Dr. Peter Malley
The sixth Clayface, also known as Claything, was created when a skin sample from Cassius Payne comes to life and merges with Dr. Peter Malley, a scientist at the Department of Extranormal Operations. Like Preston Payne, Malley had the ability to melt objects but instead of touching them, all he had to do was look at something. Claything is eventually destroyed and his remains are stored at DEO Headquarters.
Todd Russell is the seventh Clayface, who preys on prostitutes in Gotham's East End. Russell looks for companionship amongst these ladies of the night but his unstable abilities causes his facial insecurities to explode into a violent rage. At one point, Holly Robinson becomes Russell’s latest target until Catwoman got involved. Holly is saved and Selina dresses up as a hooker to draw out potential suspects at an infamous bar in the East End. Selina lucks out with one “John” when he tries to make advances toward her and she reacts by cutting with blade from her shoe. The blade cuts through the man and Selina discovers the blade is covered in clay. Selina captures Russell by locking him up in a giant freezer.
Johnny Williams is the eighth and perhaps final Clayface. Williams was a former firefighter in Gotham until he was transformed in clay monster by an explosion at a chemical plant. According to everyone, Williams died in the fire but what actually happened was, Williams had staggered through the alleyways of Gotham with no memory of what had just happened. Soon after, Williams is approached by a prostitute. He clutches onto the woman for help but the prostitute thinks he is trying to rape her without paying for her services. Her screams for help causes Williams to panic and he accidentally suffocates her by spontaneously pouring clay down her throat. Williams becomes burdened by guilt and tries to commit suicide but he is not successful.
Suddenly, Hush and Riddler, who were observing Williams from an unspecified location, inform Williams that the chemicals at the plant caused his transformation. Hush manipulates Williams by saying he will reverse Williams’ condition if he helps Hush defeat Batman. Williams uses his ability to shape shift into Dr. Thomas Elliot to maintain Hush’s cover or transform into an adult version of Jason Todd to mentally torture Bruce. Eventually, Batman convinces Williams that Hush will not keep his end of the bargain because Hush probably knew that Williams’ cellular state would break down after a while. Williams was convinced when his clay form started to melt away. Williams demonstrates his final heroic act by proving to the authorities that Alfred Pennyworth was not guilty of the murders that Hush had committed.
Major Story Arcs
No Man's Land/ Salvation Run/ Final Crisis/ Outsiders
During No Man's Land, Clayface fights Poison Ivy. Ivy winning casts Basil's body deep into the earth. Basil would later reappear as a member of the Secret Society of Super Villains. Basil would also try and absorb Wonder Woman. Clayface is one of the villains who where send to the prison planet. He joined Jokers camp. Clayface appears in Final Crisis in Libras Secret Society of Supervillains. Clayface is one of the Arkham inmates forced to work for Black Mask. He flees to a mine and forces local residents to try to get the explosive device out of him. The Outsiders show up and stop him, and remove the chip in the process.
Brightest Day: Batgirl
Wendy Harris aka Proxy advises Stephanie that the police have cornered a man who is suspected of murdering his wife and are in need of outside assistance. In Gotham's financial district, Detective Nick Gage acts as the police negotiator while talking to Mr. Griswald, the crazed husband who is held up in his van. Gage tries to talk Griswald down and have him come out of the van. Unfortunately, Gage's task force comes under unsuspecting fire and the SWAT team is called in to retaliate. As the SWAT team approaches the van, Griswald throws a petrol can that bursts causing everything and everyone to go up in flames. Gage was in safe distance from the explosion and spots Griswald running from the van.
Gage still tries to convince Griswald in turning himself in but Griswald refuses to acknowledge Gage as they make their way to the roof of a building. The pursuit ends when Griswald has no adjacent roof top to jump to and Gage holds him at gunpoint. However, Griswald seems unfazed by the gun as he causes himself to explode into a mountain of clay. The explosion sends Gage flying off the building but as he fell, Stephanie swoops down to save Gage. The duo glide down to a nearby alleyway until Proxy informs Batgirl by via comm link that Clayface has made his way to Gotham's Bank & Trust. Stephanie goes through a series of ventilation shafts in order to make her way to the bank's main floor. Stephanie knows that Clayface has disguised himself in order to disappear amongst the crowd of patrons, tellers and security guards.
Stephanie activates the bank's security measures behind a service desk which locks down the building but when she tries to warn everybody of the situation, she soon realizes that the security guards have their guns trained on her. Steph uses her batarangs to disarm the guards thus allowing her the chance to explain what she has just done. Suddenly, one of the tellers informs Steph that she should get a hold of the bank's manager Mrs. Griswald because in the event of a robbery, Mrs. Griswald is required to lock herself in the bank's vault to protect the bank's holdings. Stephanie finally realizes that Clayface staged the crime scene with Det. Gage in order to distract them from the bank heist.
Stephanie reaches the entrance to the vault where she finds the supposed Mrs. Griswald. Steph calls out Clayface and Clayface reacts by firing an array of clay weapons or projectiles. Stephanie becomes overwhelmed by Clayface's determination as he suffocates her in a pillar of his clay form until Steph uses an explosive batarang that blasts the both of them out into the streets where Gage's task force is waiting. When the smoke clears, Stephanie awakes unharmed since Clayface's body absorbed the impact of the explosion but she also discovers that there is another version of herself. The task force doesn't know who to apprehend until one of the Batgirls orders Det. Gage to shoot the other Batgirl in order to prove who is real and the other Batgirl simply gave Gage the go ahead to fire at her. Gage soon realizes that only Clayface would ask him to shoot somebody. Clayface is exposed and Stephanie uses a batarang filled with liquid nitrogen to freeze Clayface. Clayface is sent back to Arkham Asylum while Det. Gage reveals the real reason why Clayface wanted to get inside the bank's vault. It seems Basil Karlo had a lock box in the vault which contained mementos from his film career but most importantly, a picture of his recently deceased wife.
In the DC universe sweeping event Flashpoint, Clayface (Basil Karlo) is a member of Deathstroke's Pirate Crew on the ship the Ravager. Clayface along with a group of other metahumans, were broken out of the prison island Saint Helena by Deathstroke in order to help him replenish his dwindling crew. He also notifies Deathstroke of the location of a metahuman named Sonar who has the ability to see beneath the ocean, and thus can be a major asset to the Ravager. After Aquaman and Ocean Master attack the Ravager, Clayface attempts to abandon ship but is subdued by Aquaman. Aquaman drags him deep below the ocean's surface and leaves him there to die.
For more information see: Batman: The Dark Knight: Knight Terrors
Karlo is one of several Arkham inmates injected with a mixture of Venom and Fear gas. The Venom makes them strong. The fear gas makes them fearless. The inmates break-out and try to take Gotham by storm, but the Batman shows up and stops most of them from escaping. Somehow Karlo escapes and gets several of his thugs together and disguised as the Joker, hopped up on Venom, Karlo takes over a commuter train. There Karlo, the hep of the White Rabbit kills a couple of his own crew before Batman shows up and proves it Karlo and not the Joker. Karol then beats Batman but its the Flash who arrives in time to help Batman stop Karlo.
Later Batman throws Karlo's unconscious body onto Detective Forbes's car to intimidate Forbes to stay out of his way.
The Court of Owls
For more information see : A Court of Owls
While Batman investigates Dan Matthews, a guard at Arkham Asylum who maybe on the take, Dan in a desperate attempt to get away, opens several of the inmates cells.Clayface is one of those inmates seen attacking the Batman before the Joker appears to come to Batman's aide and the pair work together to beat back the group of rampaging inmates. At one point Batman puts his boot straight through Karlo's midsection.
Death of the Family
For more information see: Death of the Family
While the Joker is running wild in Gotham, Batman is forced to deal with Poison Ivy and her new strong man and husband Clayface. While Batman tries to stop Ivy from blowing up Shandy Pharmaceuticals, Batman and Ivy are knocked unconscious by Ogilvy who then carries Ivy away. When Batman comes to, he is attacked by Clayface who is looking for Ivy, who he claims is his wife. He claims he and her were married in Las Vegas and have been causing a crime spree across the states.
Batman soon learns that this was all in Clayface's head and Ivy has been using him, using plants inside his dirt body. Batman is forced to retreat but when he confronts Clayface again he spays him with herbicide and napalm and get Ivy's plants out of him. When Clayface realizes he has been tricks he disappears into the sewers.
He later finds Ivy in a motel outside of Gotham and after she realizes he is no longer under her control, he attacks her.
For more information see: Forever Evil
After the Crime Syndicate of America breaks all of the Arkham Asylum Inmates out, they divide Gotham into territories. Although it is unclear what section Clayface gets, he is always present when The Arkham inmates battle Bane and his Blackgate army, who come into Gotham to take it over. Clayface is also one of the Inmates that is injected by Scarecrow's version of the Bane Venom.
All Clayfaces possess the ability to shapeshift and change the form of their bodies. This gives them the power to look like any person they chose as well create weapons out of their limbs to attack enemy and also melt. More recent powers added to Clayface's mantle is the ability to melt objects by just looking at them and also being able to pass on powers to ordinary humans.
Because of Clayface's body nearly all physical attacks are useless. Clayface can also use his body to smother victims until lifeless.
Rather than looking like a humanoid made of clay, he resembles a large , gnarled man with melted skin. This Clayface worked with that world's Superman as an intelligence agent called Guy Gardner. He tricked a Nightwing agent named Jennifer Hayden into working with him, before killing her and taking her identity. Whilst Superman was on New Earth, he oversaw Earth-9.
When an escaped convict named Ferris hides out in an cave and dives into a strange pool of bioplasm to evade Batman and Robin, he finds he can shapeshift. After several botched encounters with Batman and Robin, the Dynamic Duo eventually are able to follow him back to the cave. Batman falls into the bioplasm and is able to confront Clayface on his own terms. After his defeat, he is jailed and the cave is destroyed. Much like Matt Hagen, his powers wear off.
Clayface later returned, after stealing "alien life fluid" from a professor named Dr. Zone. Ferris continues his heists. Batman and Robin eventually come up with the idea of using a freeze gun on him. Note that the conclusion to this story was not reprinted in Bat-Manga, so the conclusion is as of yet unknown.
appears as a member of the Legion of Doom. When the Legion is systematically taking out Justice League members, Clayface and Scarecrow are dispatched to take out Green Arrow and Black Canary. As Scarecrow takes out Canary with his fear gas, Clayface poses as Canary to kill Arrow, but Canary is able to overcome the gas and use her Canary Cry to defeat both. Later, in the Legion's super cities, Green Arrow and Black Canary confront Clayface again, but he is held off by the Elongated Man this time.
The New Adventures of Batman
In the 1970s Clayface made his first appearance as an animated character in The New Adventures of Batman. Matt Hagen was the Clayface in question. Changes in the character included that Matt had to drink a potion in order to maintain his powers he was also more accustomed to using his power to take the form of animals.
Other differences included the fact that Matt was able to survive in water even turning into a dolphin to escape Batman. Clayface would later team up with Catwoman in a plot to steal oil. Other teams included him teaming up with Catwoman (again), Penguin and Joker to destroy Batman and Robin.
Batman: The Animated Series
Clayface also stars in several episodes in Batman: The Animated Series. This incarnation was considered more tragic and deep then his first animated counter part and gave fans an insight into the villains life. The character was accepted very well by fans (much like Mr. Freeze). In "Feat of Clay" Clayface is introduced as washed up actor Matt Hagen who suffered severe scarring in a car accident . Whilst in recovery he is approached by a corrupt business man Roland Daggett who offers him a new untested face cream that he says will restore his good looks to what they were before the accident. Of course the offer
comes with a catch and Matt has to (using the cream to change his appearance) impersonate several people for Daggat. Matt of course hates working for Daggat but the cream is extremely addictive and Daggat is the only supplier. In an attempt to free himself from Daggat's vice Matt attempts to steal large amounts of the face cream, but is caught be Daggat who then makes Matt ingest a large container of it, thus creating Clayface. Clayface tries to kill Daggat but is stopped by Batman and fakes his own death.
In the episode “Mudslide” Matt’s body is beginning to deteriorate and Matt seeks the help of Dr. Stella Bates who inadvertently falls in love with Matt. She builds a laboratory to try and find a way to save Matt. Batman finds Clayface and battles him. Matt’s body absorbs to much rainwater and dissolves into the ocean.
In the Justice League series Clayface appears to have been captured by Morgan Edge. Gorilla Grodd frees him to be a part of his
Secret Society. Clayface refuses to join at first but after persuasion from Grodd he joins. Clayface is later defeated by Flash and Hawkgirl.
In the series The Batman there are two Clayfaces Ethan Bennet and Basil Karlo. Ethan, a friend of Bruce Wayne’s is transformed into Clayface by the Joker and a mix of his laughing gas. Although a villain to begin with Ethan reforms and helps defeat Basil Karlo.
Basil Karlo is seen as a failing actor in this cartoon. He breaks into Got Corp and drinks a pigment of Ethan Bennet's clay matter, giving him Clayface’s abilities. Batman with the help of Ethan would defeat Basil.
Clayface would later return as a henchman of Lex Luthor, following Metallo's failure to kill Superman due to the intervention of Batman and Robin. He along with Black Mask kidnapped Lois Lane in order to lure Superman into a trap, where Black Mask shot Superman with a ray gun that mimicked red sunlight and Mr. Freeze froze him in hopes of suffocating the man of steel, but Superman managed to break free and Batman and Robin defeated Mr. Freeze and Black Mask. Later in the Gotham office of Lexcorp, Batman confronted Clayface and defeated him with ease using a chemical that rapidly dehydrated the villain, turning him into a pile of dust.
Clayface is a playable character in the villain campaign of LEGO Batman and LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes.
He appears in The Adventures of Batman and Robin and Batman:Rise of Sin Tzu as a boss battle.
He made a small cameo in Batman: Arkham Asylum where he tries to trick Batman into letting him out of his cell but morphing into different good characters (such as Commisioner Gordon and Warden Quincy Sharp) from the game.
He plays a vital role in Batman: Arkham City. While Joker is slowly dying of TITAN poisoning, Clayface impersonates him, trying to fool Batman into believe that he has been cured. After being defeated in his guise of the Joker, he reverts to his usual form. He is mentioned as not even meant to be in Arkham City. He falls into the Lazarus Pit at the end of the game, destroying it. In both of the Arkham games, he is able to be identified, as when one uses the Detective Mode, Clayface has no skeleton, no matter what form he takes.
He is also in DC Universe Online MMO. He appears mainly in the hero quests. He appears in Gotham under the disguise of one of Jokers henchmen. He also appears in Batmans mission to stop joker from attacking the SCU police base. after gaining the info he needed, Joker releases Clayface to distract the hero and make his escape.
A small easter egg in Batman Arkham Origins was shown, with a billboard for ''Basil Karlo's'' show.