One of the most compelling, underutilized and interesting villains in Batman’s rogues gallery has to be Clayface. While many foes like the Joker and The Penguin are very unsympathetic and have had pretty consistent backstories (or lack thereof), Clayface is unique as not only have multiple people claimed the villainous identity, but the original has undergone quite the transformation over the years.
The original Clayface is Basil Karlo, an actor who was originally just a man in a mask, the character evolved to gain abilities, becoming made entirely of clay. Lets take a look at ten things fans should know about Clayface.
10 Originally Wore A Mask
One of the interesting things about Basil Karlo is that he wasn’t originally made into a clay monster. In his first appearance, he was a B-List actor who discovered he was being replaced on the remake of a film of his that was a classic and was driven insane by the news.
He finds his costume from another film he made where he played Clayface and begins to hunt down and end the lives of the people in the remake in the order they originally passed away in during the original film. Before he can end his replacement, however, Batman and Robin stop him.
9 Forms Mud Pack
In the Post-Crisis continuity, Basil Karlo arranged for the formation of a team of Clayface villains to take on Batman. At this point, Basil was still human, but he managed to bring all of the Clayface villains together, even the deceased Matt Hagen, who’s remains were used to become a post-mortem member of the Mud Pack.
Sadly this team didn’t manage to defeat Batman after all. As they are being defeated, Basil injects himself with the blood samples of Preston Payne and Sondra Fuller, which transforms him into the self-proclaimed Ultimate Clayface, giving him his shapeshifting powers in the process.
8 Survives Cataclysm
After his transformation, Clayface had sunk into the ground literally and become imprisoned underground, where his body transformed to sport quartz-like crystals that gave him great power. However when a great Cataclysm hit the city of Gotham, Basil found himself released from his makeshift prison, and free to get his revenge on Batman.
When he did this, he went toe to toe with Batman and managed to defeat him, imprisoning him in the process. However before he could end Batman’s life, Mr. Freeze and Clayface fought over who had the right to take Batman’s life, which gave Batman the opportunity to escape and defeat them both.
7 Fought Poison Ivy
After his defeat during the Cataclysm, Basil appeared again during the No Man’s Land event. This leads to a confrontation between him and Poison Ivy. During the event that saw Gotham cut off from the rest of the country after the Cataclysm, Poison Ivy managed to become sort of heroic, using her gifts to produce vegetables for the citizens of Gotham who were left behind.
However, Clayface manages to capture her, hoping to take territory. This led to Batman freeing Poison Ivy, and the two battled Clayface. Ultimately Ivy used her power to drag Clayface back into the earth, appearing to end the villain.
6 Absorbed Wonder Woman’s Power
One shocking thing that happened after his defeat by Poison Ivy is his attack on Wonder Woman herself. After joining the Secret Society of Super-Villains, Clayface went after the hero from Themyscira as at this point in her history she was made from clay by her mother.
This led to Clayface attacking her and absorbing part of her, drawing some of her power thanks to his mastery over clay. This reduced Wonder Woman to a younger version of herself, looking like Donna Troy. Together with the real Troy, Wonder Woman lured Clayface into a trap, drawing out her clay as it wasn’t compatible with him and regaining her full strength.
5 Controlled By Black Mask
After his defeat by Wonder Woman, Clayface was a member of many different villainous teams throughout the years. He was one of the prominent villains in the Injustice League and was seen during the Salvation Run event along with other villains. However, his more prominent role was as a part of Libra’s Secret Society Of Super-Villains.
Under orders from Libra during the Final Crisis event, Clayface triggers an explosion at the Daily Planet, with Lex Luthor knowing this will draw Superman out. It was at this time Black Mask took control over Clayface but manages to overcome the device and escape Black Mask until he is caught by the Outsiders.
4 Tried Taking Over Wayne Enterprises
One of Basil Karlo’s greatest attempts to use his shapeshifting abilities had to be after the New 52 emerged. After Poison Ivy had broken Basil out of prison and told him she wished to marry him. However, this proved to be a trick as a bigger part of her own plans during the Death of the Family event.
This led to Basil seeking revenge for being used. Later Basil decided to impersonate Bruce Wayne and believed he’d deduced that Bruce was really Batman. However Batman tricks Basil by telling him he planted fake DNA for Basil to steal to throw him off the trail, then trapped him in a security system.
3 New Origin Story
Basil’s history is seriously changed by the New 52 universe. Instead of a B-List actor-driven mad to become a crazed killer, Basil was a handsome young actor who was tragically disfigured in a car accident. When he became desperate to save his acting career, he began using a chemical known as Re-Nu with clay and putty to reform his face to look like it once did.
However the chemical is out of production, and so Basil began stealing from warehouses, until Batman caught him. After his career was destroyed, he went to get his chemicals from police storage but was doused in them in an explosion, creating Clayface.
2 Joins Batman’s Team
After the explosion changed him and Basil went into an uncontrollable rage, attacking his movie set and changing his ex-girlfriend Glory into Mudface, Batman realizes that Basil wasn’t in control of his actions and needs rehabilitation, not imprisonment. This leads to him offering Basil a spot on his new team of heroes, alongside Tim Drake, Spoiler, Orphan, Batwoman, and Azrael.
He agrees, wanting to stop the monster inside him from taking over. He helps the team stop Hugo Strange’s monster men who attack Gotham. He also meets Victoria October, a consultant with ARGUS who works to find a cure for Basil’s condition.
1 Faces Demise At Batwoman’s Hand
As the cure Victoria October creates enters the trial stage, she asks to test it on a less serious case. Basil, seeking redemption for his past crimes, asks that Glory be the first to receive treatment. However, Glory uses this to lure Basil to Arkham, where the team she joined, The Victim Syndicate, captures him and tortures him.
This leads to Basil unwittingly being taken over by Clayface, wreaking havoc on Gotham, especially when he is doused with the contents of the Mud Room the team trains in. After briefly regaining control, Batwoman takes the opportunity to end his life, but later it is revealed he and Victoria faked his death for unknown reasons.