Clayface is an alias used by several fictional supervillains appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Most incarnations of the character possess clay-like bodies and shape-shifting abilities, and all of them have been depicted as adversaries of the superhero Batman. In 2009, Clayface was ranked as IGN's 73rd Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.
The different versions of Clayface, from top to bottom: Sondra Fuller, Peter Malley (Claything), Preston Payne, Cassius Payne, Matt Hagen and Basil Karlo
Detective Comics #40 (June 1940)
Detective Comics #298 (December 1961)
Detective Comics #478 (August 1978)
Outsiders #21 (July 1987)
Batman #550 (January 1998)
Dr. Peter Malley:
Batman #550 (January 1998)
Catwoman #1 (January 2002)
Batman: Gotham Knights #60 (February 2005)
Bill Finger (writer)
Bob Kane (artist)
Bill Finger (writer)
Sheldon Moldoff (artist)
Len Wein (writer)
Marshall Rogers (arist)
Mike W. Barr (writer)
Jim Aparo (artist)
Doug Moench (writer)
Kelley Jones (artist)
Ed Brubaker (writer)
Darwyn Cooke (artist)
Basil Jamal Karlo|
Matthew "Matt" Hagen
Preston "Bill" Payne
Cassius "Clay" Payne
Dr. Peter Malley
Secret Society of Super Villains
Strike Force Kobra
The Ultimate Clayface
Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, the original Clayface (Basil Karlo) appeared in Detective Comics #40 (June 1940) as a B-list actor who began a life of crime using the identity of a villain that he had portrayed in a horror film that he had starred in.
In the late 1950s, Batman began facing a series of science fiction-inspired foes, including Matt Hagen, a treasure hunter given vast shapeshifting powers and resiliency by exposure to a pool of radioactive protoplasm, who became the second Clayface. He retained the title for the next several decades of comic book history.
In the late 1970s, Preston Payne became the third Clayface. A scientist suffering from hyperpituitarism, Preston Payne used the second Clayface's blood to create a cure for his condition, but instead became a clay-like creature that needed to pass his new condition on to others to survive.
Sondra Fuller of Strike Force Kobra used the terrorist group's technology to become the fourth Clayface, also known as Lady Clay. She formed the Mud Pack with the original and third Clayfaces. During this era, the original Clayface used the DNA of Payne and Fuller to become the Ultimate Clayface (as he now called himself).
Sometime after the Mud Pack event, Payne and Fuller had a son named Cassius "Clay" Payne, who, as the fifth Clayface, also had metahuman shapeshifting powers.
In a 1998 storyline, Dr. Peter Malloy later used a sample of Cassus Payne's skin to become a Claything when he was introduced in Batman #550 (January 1998).
In 2002, the Todd Russell version of Clayface was introduced in Catwoman vol. 3, #4 (May 2002), and in 2005, the Johnny Williams version of Clayface was introduced in Batman: Gotham Knights #60 (February 2005).
Fictional character biographyEdit
The original version of Clayface, Basil Karlo, first appeared in Detective Comics #40 (June 1940). He is a B-list actor who is driven insane when he hears that a remake of the classic horror film he had starred in, Dread Castle, would be shot without him acting in the film, even though he is to be one of the advising staff. Donning the costume of Clayface, a villain he once played in a different movie, he begins killing the actors playing characters he killed in the order and way they die in the film, along with someone who knew his identity. Last, he plans to murder the actor playing the Clayface killer. He is foiled by Batman and Robin.
He reappears after the prison ambulance he is riding in plunges off a cliff. He once again dons the mask of Clayface and targets Bruce Wayne's fiancée, Julie Madison. Once again, the Dynamic Duo foil his plans. A movie buff, Batman co-creator Bob Kane states that the character was partially inspired by the 1925 Lon Chaney, Sr. version of The Phantom of the Opera and that the name of the character came from a combination of Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone.
Karlo returns twice more in the Silver Age of Comics to battle Batman, in Batman #208 and Detective Comics #496.
In the Post-Crisis continuity, Karlo languishes in a prison hospital, when the current Clayface Sondra Fuller visits him out of curiosity. Karlo proposes an alliance between all living Clayfaces to kill Batman. He even arranges for a small piece of the remains of Matt Hagen to be gathered to make him a post-mortem member of the "Mud Pack", as the group called itself. Even though the "Mud Pack" is defeated, Karlo injects himself with blood samples from Preston Payne and Sondra Fuller, gaining the abilities to shapeshift and melt with a touch; he becomes the self-declared "Ultimate" Clayface. He is defeated by the combined efforts of Batman and Looker of the Outsiders by overloading his abilities, making him melt into the ground. He literally sinks into the Earth's crust when he loses control of his powers; he survives, however, and now his body sports crystals similar to quartz that endow him with greater power. Karlo escapes his underground prison when Gotham City is struck by a great cataclysm. He captures Batman and is about to kill him, but he gets into a feud with Mr. Freeze about who has a right to kill the Caped Crusader. Using that distraction, Batman soundly defeats both of them.
During the "No Man's Land" storyline, Karlo holds Poison Ivy, who is in charge of producing fresh vegetables for the remaining people in the city, prisoner in Robinson Park. After she is freed from her prison by Batman, Poison Ivy battles and defeats Karlo, sinking him deep into the ground. It appears that the Ultimate Clayface is destroyed in this battle, but he resurfaces as a member of the Secret Society of Super Villains. Later, he seeks to increase his already formidable powers by absorbing Wonder Woman (a clay construct similar to him), giving him an amount of powers that border on invulnerability.
While he is successful in absorbing some of the heroine's powers, causing her to regress to a teenage appearance resembling Donna Troy, he is ultimately returned to normal when Wonder Woman and Donna were able to trick Clayface into entering a train carriage with Wonder Woman while she was disguised as Donna, Donna subsequently using the Lasso of Truth to swing the carriage around and turn it into a mystical centrifuge, causing the clay Clayface had taken from Wonder Woman to split away from him and re-merge with Wonder Woman due to the differences between the two types of clay.
Basil Karlo is among the members of the Injustice League and is among the villains seen in Salvation Run. He can also be seen as a member of Libra's Secret Society of Super Villains. In the second issue of Final Crisis, he triggers an explosion at the Daily Planet under Libra's orders when Lex Luthor orders Libra to do something that will draw Superman to them. Black Mask attempts to control Karlo by implanting a device in his body. He escapes Black Mask, but is captured and imprisoned by the Outsiders.
In The New 52 (a 2011 reboot of the DC Comics universe), as a part of the "Death of the Family" storyline, Poison Ivy breaks Basil Karlo out of Arkham, claiming she wants to marry him. This turns out to be a ruse, however; Ivy is using him as part of a larger scheme. Upon realizing this, he seeks revenge.
Karlo later returns with a new plan: to use his DNA-duplication abilities to impersonate Bruce Wayne and take control of Wayne Enterprises. He even guesses that Wayne is Batman's true identity. However, Batman plants false evidence to suggest that he anticipated Karlo's attempt to take his DNA and tricked him into taking a fake sample. Batman eventually stops Karlo by trapping him in a security system that can only be deactivated with Karlo's original DNA, reasoning that he has changed too much for his original DNA to be present in his system.
In Detective Comics Annual 2018, Basil is re-imaged as a handsome young actor who was disfigured in a car accident. In a desperate bid to salvage his career, he began abusing an industrial make-up chemical known as "Re-Nu" which, when combined with clay and putty, warps flesh into new shapes and forms; a secret he discovered from his father Vincent Karlo, a former special effects artist. However, the chemical is long out of production, and Karlo is forced to steal more and more of it to preserve his handsome appearance. Batman apprehends him during one such robbery, which reveals his secret to the world. Karlo's career is ruined and his girlfriend Glory Griffin dumps him. Batman attempts to get Karlo to testify against the creator of Re-Nu, Roland Daggett, but he refuses. Instead, he attempts to break into the warehouse where the police are holding his stolen stash of Re-Nu. When police open fire on the vials, Karlo is doused in the chemical and transformed into Clayface. He then attacks the set of the film he was fired from. Batman attempts to evacuate the set, but Clayface flings him off into the distance and begins massacring everyone in sight. As an added bit of revenge, Clayface disfigures Glory, who is working on the film as a production assistant, before Batman apprehends him. This incident leads Glory to become Mudface of the Victim Syndicate.
The second version of Clayface, Matt Hagen, first appeared in Detective Comics #298. A treasure hunter, Hagen finds a mysterious radioactive pool of protoplasm in a cave. Immersing himself in it by accident, he is transformed into a malleable clay-like form which could be shaped into almost anything he desires. This is only a temporary effect, however, requiring him to return to the pool periodically in order to maintain use of his powers. His criminal activities attracted the attention of Batman and Robin. Batman discovered his weakness and defeated him.
Matt Hagen later escaped from prison and decided to investigate the protoplasmic substance that turned him into Clayface so that he can find a way to prolong his powers. Clayface posed as wealthy civilians of Gotham City in order to learn more about his criminal activities. Batman and Robin later confronted Clayface at his hideout where they used a combination of a freeze gun and the protoplasmic substance to defeat Clayface and return him to prison.
Matt Hagen eventually breaks out of prison and uses the protoplasmic pool to become Clayface again. This time, Batman defeats Clayface by immersing himself in the protoplasm, with the resulting battle causing Batman to destroy the cave that contained the protoplasmic pool.
After escaping from Green Wells Maximum Security Prison upon having stashed some chemicals there, Clayface eventually copies the pool's protoplasmic jelly by chemistry studies, although the artificial proptoplasm only allows him five hours of his power compared to the full two days of the pool's. Clayface resumes his crime spree by stealing the priceless stamp collection of millionaire K.A. King and stealing the trophy that was to be given to Batman. Clayface's activities also attract the attention of Superman. Assuming the form of Superman, Clayface is evenly matched with him until Clayface smashes some bleachers to provide a diversion to get away. During Clayface's robbery, Batman used Kryptonite on Clayface's Superman form, only for Clayface to get away by shapeshifting into a rocket. When Batman uses Red Kryptonite on him, it causes Clayface to go crazy. Clayface uses the X-Ray Vision in his Superman form to see who Batman is. Before he can reveal who Batman is, Clayface's powers wear off, causing him to regress back to Matt Hagen. Superman manages to save Clayface from the fall. Matt Hagen had lost the memory of Batman's secret identity as he is handed over to the Gotham City Police Department.
When Brainiac returns to Earth to plan his revenge on Superman, he goes on a rampage and blasts the walls to a prison where Matt Hagen was imprisoned. This gives Matt Hagen the opportunity to escape and head to one of his secret laboratories in order to regain his powers. He makes more of the synthetic formula that gives him his shapeshifting powers for five hours. With Jimmy Olsen by his side, Batman works to track down Clayface while Robin works with Superman to catch Brainiac. This leads to a team-up between Clayface and Brainiac. While Superman and Robin managed to apprehend Brainiac, Clayface tries to escape, only for his formula to wear off which enables Batman and Jimmy Olsen to apprehend him.
Matt Hagen's blood was later obtained by Preston Payne.
Clayface later breaks out of prison and restores his powers. He kidnaps Lois Lane as part of a plot to destroy Batman and Superman. Both superheroes managed to rescue Lois Lane and defeat Clayface.
Clayface appeared in Limbo alongside other dead supervillains as part of a plan to return to the living, only to be defeated by Hawk and Dove, the Teen Titans and Jeb Stuart's Haunted Tank. The imposter Etrigan the Demon offered them a way out through another portal, but he was merely toying with the dead supervillains. When he sent them through the portal, it turned out to be an entrance to Hell.
During the Mud Pack storyline, Basil Karlo gathers a small piece of Hagen's remains and makes him a post-mortem member of the group. He was unable to bring Matt Hagen back to life.
The third version of Clayface, Preston Payne, first appeared at the end of Detective Comics #477 before making his first full appearance in Detective Comics #478-479. Suffering from hyperpituitarism, Payne works at S.T.A.R. Labs searching for a cure. He obtains a sample of Matt Hagen's blood, and isolates an enzyme which he introduces into his own bloodstream. Although he is briefly able to shape his own appearance, this effect is short-lived: while on a date, his flesh begins to melt, and when he grabs his horrified girlfriend's arm, she completely dissolves into a shapeless pile of protoplasm. Payne builds an anti-dissolving exoskeleton suit to support his clay-like flesh and contain his contagion, but he soon learns that he needs to transmit this dissolving contagion onto others to survive by touching them (he feels excruciating pain before this happens, which only stops when he touches someone). During this time his mental health starts to slip as he falls in love with a wax mannequin he names "Helena", thinking that she is the only woman who is immune to his touch. After another breakdown, he thinks Helena enjoys watching men "fighting over her" when he battles Batman yet again in front of the wax doll. Although he does not give her up, he keeps her in Arkham Asylum, saying "we're both too polite to admit divorce, but she can't live forever".
Dr. R. Hutton takes a night shift at Arkham Asylum in order to do research for his new book detailing superhuman psychology. He keeps a close watch on the inmates at Arkham Asylum. During this time, he sees Clayface spending intimate time with Helena.
During the events of the Mud Pack storyline, Sondra Fuller, the fourth Clayface, begins masquerading as the superheroine Looker and visits Payne at Arkham. That same night, he gets into an argument with Helena and unintentionally knocks her head off. Believing that he has killed her, Payne goes on a rampage until subdued in a nearby swamp by the asylum guards. Fuller, who is still using Looker's appearance and powers, rescues him and influences him to follow Basil Karlo's commands. Karlo ultimately betrays Fuller and takes samples of her and Payne's blood to inject into himself. Payne finally breaks free of Fuller's control and is about to kill her when she admits how sorry she is for using him. The two, after escaping, fall in love and go on to live together while on the run, leading to Fuller becoming pregnant with their child, Cassius.
Preston acquires medicine to control his pain and now feels it only in his mind. It is also revealed that he was abused by his parents.
A stunted, emaciated Preston Payne appears in the graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean. He is used to metaphorically represent sexually transmitted diseases.
Payne next appears in the Justice League: Cry for Justice miniseries, having been coerced into working for Prometheus, who had threatened the life of his son. Prometheus had further mutated Payne, giving him back his old shapeshifting abilities and curing him of his contagion, and had him act as a decoy for the Justice League. When the ruse was discovered, an explosive device planted inside Payne's body detonated. It is unknown if he survived the explosion.
The fourth version of Clayface, Sondra Fuller (also known as Lady Clay), first appeared in Outsiders (vol. 1) #21. She is a member of Strike Force Kobra who is transformed into a shape-changer by her employer Kobra's technologies. She agreed to going through with the process because she hates her own face. The process works and she becomes a member of Strike Force Kobra.
She possesses identical abilities to those of Matt Hagen, but they are permanent, without the requirement for exposure to a source of protoplasm. She can additionally copy any special powers of the being she is mimicking. She is defeated by the Outsiders.
Later, after the Mud Pack forms and battles Batman, Fuller falls in love with Preston Payne. After Clayface-Prime (Karlo) is defeated, Preston Payne and Sondra Fuller escape and get married while on the run, and they have a child named Cassius "Clay" Payne, a play on boxer Muhammad Ali's birth name. After Abbatoir kidnaps the child, the couple get into a fight involving Azrael/Batman. Batman eventually defeated them both, and Fuller was put into custody.
The DC Rebirth version of Sondra Fuller appeared in the Watchmen sequel Doomsday Clock where she claims that Kobra was not the person who gave her the powers of shapeshifting after all. Instead, she claims that her powers were the result of a government conspiracy to create superpowered beings. Her proclamation further adds to the global scandal known as "The Superman Hypothesis" which suggests that the United States has been secretly creating superheroes and supervillains for an unknown/unstated purpose.
The Mud PackEdit
Before the debut appearances of the fifth and sixth Clayfaces, Clayface III and IV team up, breaking Clayface I out of prison. Clayface I also futilely tries to revive Clayface II. Together, the trio form the "Mud Pack". Clayface I later copies the others' powers by injecting himself with extracts of blood samples of Clayface III and IV, becoming the "Ultimate Clayface". Clayface I is defeated by Batman and Looker and Clayface III and IV escape.
Cassius "Clay" PayneEdit
After the Mud Pack incident, Payne and Fuller escape and fall in love while on the run. They eventually have a child together named Cassius "Clay" Payne, who becomes the fifth version of Clayface and debuted in Batman #550. The boy is separated from his parents and held in a government laboratory. The name "Cassius" is a pun on "Cassius Clay", the birth name of boxer Muhammad Ali.
If a piece of him is separated from his body, it can grow a mind of its own, but it mostly thinks in an unstable form of what Cassius wants. If bonded with another human, it becomes a Claything; the piece can give that human Clayface-like abilities, such as becoming soft and malleable, being able to withstand bullets and other forms of harm, and could also manifest Payne's ability to melt objects; all this person would have to do to perform such an action is to think about it. Cassius finds it very painful and distressing to have pieces of himself taken, and will go to crazed lengths to recover them.
In an issue of Batman: Gotham Knights, Cassius is depicted as having the clay-like appearance of his mother and father, but can only stay in this form while awake (a similar trait shared by Plasmus in the Teen Titans animated series (2003-2006)).
Following the Final Crisis storyline, Cassius attacks the National Guard on the roadblock, but when he was approached by General Immortus' team, he is able to recognize one of the team, Human Flame. Cassius attacks and blames him for Libra enslaving Earth. The Justice League arrives to end the fight as Human Flame and General Immortus' team teleport away, leaving Cassius to be captured. After the League interrogates him, he is taken to some FBI vehicles, but the measures to contain him prove to be useless; Cassius breaks loose, escaping into the desert.
Dr. Peter "Claything" MalleyEdit
The sixth version of Clayface, also known as the Claything, also debuted in Batman #550. Claything is created when a skin sample from Cassius Payne comes to life and merges with a DEO (Department of Extranormal Operations) scientist, Dr. Peter Malley. He has the ability to melt objects simply by looking at them. Claything is destroyed when Cameron Chase psychokinetically turns his own powers against him, and his remains are stored at the DEO Headquarters.
The seventh version of Clayface, Todd Russell, debuted in Catwoman (vol. 3) #1 (January 2002), but is not actually shown until Catwoman (vol. 3) #4 (May 2002). This version of Clayface is not named until Catwoman (vol. 3) #44. Having the power to change into virtually any shape and size, he preys upon prostitutes in Gotham's East End until Catwoman is able to contain his decapitated head inside of a freezer. There are very few background details given about the seventh Clayface's past. He was in the Army, suffered injuries, and was subsequently experimented on (possibly by the DEO) before losing most of his memory and discovering his new powers. After his capture, he is held captive and further experimented upon for almost two years at S.T.A.R. Labs in Gotham before being freed by Catwoman.
The eighth version of Clayface, Johnny Williams, debuted in Batman: Gotham Knights #60 (February 2005). Williams is introduced as a former firefighter in Gotham who is transformed into a clay-based creature by an explosion in a chemical plant. He first discovers his transformation after he accidentally kills a prostitute; horrified and stricken with guilt, he plans to commit suicide. Just then, he is approached by Hush and the Riddler, who tell him that the chemicals turned him into the latest Clayface. They begin to manipulate Williams, holding out the promise of a cure and making him do their bidding, including pretending to be Tommy Elliot (Hush's true identity) and an adult Jason Todd, to hurt and confuse Bruce Wayne. Elliot also takes some samples from Williams to try and determine how he can duplicate the shapeshifting aspects of Clayface without losing his original form, also using these samples to infect Batman's ally Alfred Pennyworth with a virus that allows Hush to exert some degree of control over Alfred, forcing him to commit murder. Eventually, Williams realizes he is being manipulated and Hush will never help him after Hush tries to steal a sample of Cassius in the hopes that analysis of the 'pure' Clayface will help him crack the sample. Knowing that he is going to die, Williams offers Batman assistance against Hush in exchange for protecting his family. He redeems himself in his death by providing Batman with a sample of himself so that Batman can find a cure for the virus infecting Alfred, also ensuring that Alfred is cleared of the murder charges by ensuring that his final appearance after death includes fingerprints that are so similar to Alfred's that the detectives conclude that they simply made a mistake.
The Clayface of JapanEdit
The ninth version of Clayface, the Clayface of Japan, debuted in Batman Incorporated (vol. 1) #6 (June 2011) as part of The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe). Batman tasks Batman Japan (Jiro Osamu) to fight the Clayface of Japan about two-and-a-half months into his Batman Incorporated venture. Not much is known about this Clayface, except that he resembles all of the previous Clayfaces and seems to have their same set of powers. Presumably, this Clayface, as a rival to Osamu, is a native of Japan. Batman states that this Clayface is a newcomer, a samurai, and operates in or around Hokkaido.
The Clayface clonesEdit
Powers and abilitiesEdit
Each of the Clayfaces has different powers, but they all share the ability to shapeshift.
- In earlier appearances, Basil Karlo had no powers, but wore a clay mask based on one of his movie roles. In recent comics, Basil Karlo's body is made out of mud upon taking the DNA of Clayface III and IV, enabling him to gain the combined powers of both. In The New 52, these are improved to a level in which he can even mimic the DNA of others.
- Matt Hagen had temporary shapeshifting, voiceshifting, and a body constituted of living mud which he can divide or change shape at will. Hagen had to reimmerse himself in a pool of protoplasm that gave him his powers to recharge them every 48 hours or else he would regress back to his human form. Later he duplicated the protoplasm by scientific means, but it would only give him his powers for five hours before needing to be renewed.
- Preston Payne originally had shapeshifting powers, yet ended up gaining the ability to dissolve people with his touch. He has super-strength from his exoskeleton and anti-dissolving suit. Preston's shapeshifting ability was later restored by Prometheus.
- Sondra Fuller has shapeshifting powers and power duplication.
- Cassius "Clay" Payne has the combined powers of both his parents. If a piece of him is separated from his mass, it can develop some consciousness of its own and even "bond" with a human to transform them into a "Claything".
- Dr. Peter Malley had the same powers as Cassius, but could also melt people just by looking at them.
- Todd Russell had shapeshifting powers.
- Johnny Williams had shapeshifting powers.
The Earth-9 version of Clayface is featured in Tangent Comics' Tangent: Superman's Reign miniseries. This version is a shapeshifter like the mainstream versions, but his base form is that of a hulking, misshapen human with melted skin.
In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, a version of Clayface is a member of Deathstroke's pirates after being broken out of a floating prison by Deathstroke. During attacks by Aquaman and Ocean Master, Clayface is pushed by Aquaman into the water, apparently killing him.
Injustice: Gods Among UsEdit
The Basil Karlo version of Clayface appears in Year Two of the Injustice: Gods Among Us comic.
Batman: Arkham KnightEdit
In the Batman: Arkham Knight prequel comic series, samples of Basil Karlo's mud were acquired by various parties including Simon Stagg, who created "Project: Meta", and Hush which he used for his face to hide his cosmetic surgery scars. Karlo also appeared during one of Joker's fantasies, and briefly during one of Batman's simulations for Robin. It was also revealed that Karlo is still alive within the mud collected by GCPD, but is unable to take form again because of the Lazarus Particles mixed with his mud and the explosion from the generator.
Batman: White KnightEdit
In the 2017 miniseries Batman: White Knight, an unnamed Clayface appears as a chief character. Criminal Jack Napier (a Joker who was temporarily cured of his insanity after being force-fed pills by Batman), uses the Mad Hatter's mind control technology to control Clayface, while slipping small particles from his body into the drinks of many of Batman’s other villains. This allows Napier to control a small army of villains via this Clayface’s ability to control parts of his body that had been separated from him.
In other mediaEdit
- A character that resembles the Matt Hagen version of Clayface appears among the attacking criminals in the animated opening credits of the sixties Batman TV series, but the villain never actually appeared on the show itself and was instead replaced with the lesser known but similar-sounding masked master of disguise called False Face.
- Clayface made an appearance in the 12th episode of the short-lived Birds of Prey TV series, portrayed by Kirk Baltz. This version of Clayface is a sculptor who is inspired by other people's pain. Like other versions, he is a shapeshifter but his powers are explained to come from taking a special formula specifically tailored by a crooked scientist to work with his DNA. In this series, he is hired by the Joker to kill Catwoman. His son Chris Cassius (portrayed by Ian Reed Kesler) can turn people into clay after stealing and taking his father's formula, making his powers similar to the Preston Payne version of Clayface and his own son Cassius "Clay" Payne. Chris is eventually defeated by Helena Kyle.
- The Basil Karlo version of Clayface appears in Gotham, portrayed by Brian McManamon. Introduced in season 2 episode "A Legion of Horribles", this version of the character is a deceased actor who was revived from the dead by Hugo Strange and Ethel Peabody at the underground Indian Hill facility; thanks to the octopod's DNA inserted in him, Basil can stretch and shape his face, making him look like anyone.
- The Matt Hagen version of Clayface made his first animated appearance in Filmation's 1970s TV series The New Adventures of Batman, voiced by Lou Scheimer and later by Lennie Weinrib. This version must apply his special potion daily to keep his Clayface powers. In this show, he often took on the forms of animals. In "Dead Ringers", Clayface, in his true form of Matt Hagen, forces former criminal-turned-acrobat Kit Martin to help him in exchange for not telling his boss of his criminal record. The plot involves posing as Batman in order to kidnap the Arabian Oil Minister Basil Oram. They disguise themselves as Batman and Robin, capture Oram and escape in a special shapeshifting vehicle. Clayface later calls Commissioner Gordon, stating that he will return Oram and the blueprints for an oil-finding device in exchange for $10,000.000 by the end of the first hour. Clayface then orchestrates a car accident that knocks out Batman and then stows away in the Batmobile in order to infiltrate the Batcave. Clayface then discovers that Batman has amnesia and uses this advantage to find out Batman's secret identity, but his plan is foiled when Bat-Mite distracts him long enough for the Bat-Computer to create an antidote for Batman's amnesia. Clayface sneaks out of the Batcave disguised as a rabbit with Bat-Mite in pursuit while Robin and Batgirl learn why Kit is involved with Clayface's kidnapping plot. Batman used the Bat-Boat to pursue Clayface when he escapes into the water in the form of a dolphin. After Kit returns the blueprints to Commissioner Gordon, Robin and Batgirl learn from Kit that he was to deliver a 'medicine' to Clayface before midnight. When Clayface's shapeshifting wears off, he reverts to Matt Hagen and begins to drown as Hagen cannot swim, until Batman saves him and hands him over to the police. In "Curses! Oiled Again", Clayface collaborates with Catwoman to steal a shipment of oil bound for Gotham City during a cold snap. They also plan to steal the country's oil supply. When Batman and Robin scout out each of the storage tanks in the south side and the waterfront, Batman finds Catwoman and Clayface at the oil storage tanks on the waterfront and is led into a trap where Clayface attacks Batman in the form of a snake. Catwoman appears and shows Batman how she and Clayface have been draining the oil from Gotham City. Batman breaks free from Clayface when Robin, Batgirl and Bat-Mite arrive. Clayface turns into an eagle to get Catwoman away from Batman. Catwoman and Clayface manage to lose Batman, Robin, Batgirl and Bat-Mite in a car chase when the Kitty Car jumps over Batgirl. Catwoman and Clayface intercept a call between Batman and Commissioner Gordon revolving around the oil supertanker arriving in Gotham City. Catwoman and Clayface manage to steal some of the oil and escape in their submarine as Catwoman flees in her plane. Clayface turns into a whale in order to attack Batman and Robin. Batman and Robin net Clayface, who turns into a flying fish to get out, only to be caught in a smaller net by Robin. In the two-part episode "Have an Evil Day", Zarbor enlists the Joker, Penguin, Catwoman and Clayface to keep the Dynamic Duo busy while he steals America's nuclear power plants.
- The DC Animated Universe featured the Matt Hagen version of Clayface, voiced by Golden Globe winner Ron Perlman.
- Matt Hagen is introduced in the critically acclaimed 1990s series Batman: The Animated Series. In the episode "Feat of Clay" (written by veteran comic book writer Marv Wolfman), Hagen is an actor who was disfigured in a car accident. While Hagen was recovering in a hospital, corrupt businessman Roland Daggett offered to make him as a test subject for the beauty cream 'Renuyu', promising that it would immediately restore his youthful good looks; in exchange, Daggett forced Hagen to commit crimes for him. After Hagen botches an attack on Lucius Fox while disguised as Bruce Wayne, Daggett cuts off his supply. Hagen attempts to steal a large quantity of Renuyu from Daggett's compound, but Daggett's men catch him and pour an entire canister of Renuyu down his throat, leaving him for dead. The overdose saturates every cell in Hagen's body, turning him into the bulky and misshapen clay-like form of Clayface. For short periods of time, he can shapeshift into anything or anybody he wishes. Clayface tries to get revenge on Daggett, but Batman stops him by overwhelming his powers with images of his past movie roles. When caught, Clayface fakes his death (with the body in the morgue turning out to be a hollow shell which dries up and breaks apart) and sneaks away in the form of a woman. The episode "Mudslide" shows Clayface reappearing and revealing that his body is beginning to deteriorate. He is restored to a semblance of health by Dr. Stella Bates (voiced by Pat Musick), a former medical adviser on one of Hagen's films who fell in love with him. Batman tracks him down and prevents Clayface's treatment. Clayface and Batman then fight on a cliff during a rainstorm above an ocean. They both fall, and hang onto the cliff. Batman attempts to save Clayface, but Clayface's body absorbs too much rain to hold itself up and he falls into the ocean, where he dissolves.
- Clayface returns in The New Batman Adventures. Clayface makes a brief appearance in the pilot episode "Holiday Knights", where he takes the form of several little boys to steal items during a Christmas Eve rush. Upon being caught, he reverts to his natural form and attacks Detectives Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya, but is defeated by Batgirl. The episode "Growing Pains" reveals that, after falling into the ocean during the events of "Mudslide", Clayface's remains drift near a pipe leaking strange chemicals into the ocean, restoring his strength. Still weakened, Clayface sends a portion of himself which takes the form of a little girl named Annie (voiced by Francesca Marie Smith) to see if it safe for him to resurface. Annie unexpectedly develops an individual personality, wandering around Gotham with no memory of who she is, and encounters Robin. As Robin develops an affection for Annie, Clayface poses as the girl's abusive father, committing various robberies in order to make a living in Gotham's sewers. Eventually, Clayface recovers, cornering Robin and Annie; the latter allows herself to be reabsorbed - effectively killing her - in order to save Robin. Enraged by Annie's 'death', Robin almost kills Clayface with gallons of solvent, but Batman intervenes and stops him. Clayface is then arrested and imprisoned in Arkham Asylum. When Commissioner Gordon lists the charges Clayface is accused of, Robin quietly adds murder as one of them.
- Clayface is also featured in the Justice League animated series. The episode "Secret Society" revealed he had been captured, separated and sealed into several biohazard canisters by Morgan Edge. The Secret Society free Clayface and offer him membership. Now less aggressive and psychopathic than before, Clayface is reluctant at first, but Gorilla Grodd promises to find a way to help Hagen return to his human form while keeping his powers. However, Clayface is defeated along with the rest of the group after The Flash and Hawkgirl stuff him with fireworks and set them off.
- There are two versions of Clayface that appear on The Batman cartoon series: original character Ethan Bennett (voiced by Steve Harris), and the Basil Karlo incarnation's animated debut, voiced by Wallace Langham (in "Clayfaces") and by Lex Lang (in "The Batman/Superman Story"). The first incarnation (introduced in season one) is a detective in the Gotham City Police Department and Bruce Wayne's best friend. The second incarnation (introduced in season four) is a talentless actor. After a session of brainwashing, Ethan is rescued by Batman and Detective Ellen Yin, however, turns into Clayface when he inhales a dose of the Joker's 'Joker Putty'. After publicly denouncing Chief Angel Rojas' claims about Batman and getting suspended, Bennett mutates into a featureless gray clay-like figure and tries to look for help, scaring away the locals, though Ethan manages to change back into his original form with practice. While trying to murder Rojas, Clayface confronts Yin and Batman. In season two, Bennett appears primarily as Clayface. In the episode "Meltdown", Clayface is captured and put on trial for his crimes. Despite being released on probation, criminal temptations are too severe for Bennett. In the episode "Grundy's Night", Clayface impersonates Solomon Grundy (voiced by Kevin Grevioux) in order to loot Gotham on Halloween, but is ultimately stopped by Batman. In season four, Bennett has a change of heart while Karlo appears as Clayface. In the episode "Clayfaces", Bennett seems to have finally reformed by tracking down and capturing the Joker, disguising himself as Joker's henchmen Punch and Judy. He hands the Joker over to the police without using excessive force and turns himself in to the authorities. Now in Arkham Asylum, Bennett wants to return working as a police officer, even as Clayface. However, Karlo breaks into Wayne Enterprises and drinks a refined, purified sample of the same mutagen that Bennett was exposed to. This successfully turns Karlo into a new version of Clayface and he gives him a more conventional appearance. After being rejected once again, Karlo snaps and uses his new powers to attack the people who rejected him. Karlo initially believes this would be the death of his career, but then he sees that being a supervillain has made him a celebrity covered on nearly every channel, as well as show his previous movie The Revenge of The Atomic Clone. As Karlo was wreaking havoc, Bennett resorts to escaping from Arkham. Bennett tracks down and battles Karlo with the aid of Batman and Robin. Bennett then restrains Karlo down while Batman administers the successful antidote, thus both Bennett and Karlo are cured and returned to Arkham. Ethan planned to finish his sentence and visited by Bruce, stating that they should play basketball again. Since the antidote finally cured all of his mutated cells, Ethan will eventually be free. He is also glad that his powers are gone, removing his criminal temptations so that he can focus on reformation after witnessing Karlo's actions. However, the episode's final scene shows that Karlo has retained his powers. The episode "Artifacts" (which takes place 20 years in the future) has Bennett reinstated into the GCPD as Chief of Police. In season five's "The Batman/Superman Story", Karlo reappears as Clayface when he and Black Mask are hired by Lex Luthor to kidnap Lois Lane as bait for a trap to lure Superman so that Bane and Mr. Freeze can attack Superman at once. Superman defeats the villains with Batman and Robin's help, but Clayface escapes. Clayface later fights Batman and Robin in LexCorp's Gotham headquarters and ends up defeated.
- The Preston Payne version of Clayface is featured in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. In the episode "Joker: The Vile and the Villainous!", a portrait of Clayface is seen in the villain bar where Batman's Rogues Gallery hangs out.
- The Matt Hagen version of Clayface appears in the Young Justice animated series, voiced by Nolan North. In "Downtime", he is seen at the beginning where he overpowers the entire team and is about to kill Aqualad until Batman intervenes and quickly subdues him with a taser, which causes Clayface to dissolve into a puddle. He was later taken to Arkham Asylum. In "Happy New Year", Clayface encounters Miss Martian and Superboy in the sewers, where he attacks Superboy with the same tactics he used before. By this point he has become immune to the tasers Robin uses, but Superboy uses a special pill to freeze Clayface. He is then returned to Arkham.
- A female version of character named Mrs Clayface appears in DC Super Hero Girls, voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson. She is the wife of the as-yet-unidentified Clayface.
- The Flashpoint version of Clayface appears in Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. He is part of Deathstroke's pirate crew that fights Aquaman's army until he is killed by Ocean Master.
- The Basil Karlo version of Clayface appears in Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem, voiced by Dave B. Mitchell. Clayface has joined the Joker's gang of monsters to wreak mayhem on Gotham City.
- The Basil Karlo version of Clayface appears in Batman Unlimited: Mech vs. Mutants, voiced again by Dave B. Mitchell. Clayface, Killer Croc, Chemo, and Bane are freed from Arkham by Mr. Freeze and the Penguin. Freeze uses a serum to turn Chemo and Croc into giant monsters. Meanwhile, the treacherous Penguin enlists Clayface and Bane to help with a coup against Freeze. Penguin injects them with the serum and Bane throws Freeze across Gotham. Clayface goes after Batman and Robin, but the serum turns Clayface into a lava monster. Using a freeze ray developed by Freeze, Robin, the Flash, Man-Bat, and Nightwing freeze Clayface solid. However, Clayface is accidentally freed by some children and, back to his original form, escapes into the sewer.
- The Basil Karlo version of Clayface appears in The Lego Batman Movie, voiced by Kate Micucci. He is among the villains that assist Joker in his takeover of Gotham City. During the ceremony where Barbara Gordon is being sworn in as the new police commissioner, Joker assigns Mr. Freeze and Clayface to capture her. Barbara tricks Mr. Freeze into freezing Clayface. During the fight against the Phantom Zone inmates, Mr. Freeze and Clayface defeat the Kraken from Clash of the Titans.
- The Basil Karlo version of Clayface appears in Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson.
- The Matt Hagen version of Clayface appears as the final boss of the Sega CD version of The Adventures of Batman & Robin, although he takes on the appearance of Rupert Thorne (voiced by John Vernon) throughout the game's majority, having hired other villains such as the Joker, Poison Ivy and the Riddler to stall Batman and Robin. He is fought in an aerial battle while fleeing in a helicopter from the Batwing. In the end, Batman damages the helicopter and it crashes into a bridge. Clayface falls into the river below and dissolves. The game's cutscenes have since come to be known as the infamous "Lost Episode" of Batman: The Animated Series, though it is not considered canonical to the DC Animated Universe.
- The Matt Hagen version of Clayface appears on the final level of SNES version of The Adventures of Batman & Robin, as one of several villains trying to take down Batman.
- The Matt Hagen version of Clayface is the second boss of Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu, again voiced by Ron Perlman. Along with Scarecrow and Bane, he is manipulated by Sin Tzu into escaping Arkham Asylum and challenging Batman. Clayface takes over a chemical factory, intending to mutate Gotham's citizens into clay like himself, hoping that this will leave them more likely to search for a cure.
- The Basil Karlo version of Clayface appears in DC Universe Online, voiced by Benjamin Jansen. He attacks Gotham S.C.U. until the players activate a containment unit to trap Clayface. In the villain campaign, the players free Clayface from his containment unit. The players also confront Clayface again in the Old Gotham Subway duo instance, where he first appears taking the shape of Two-Face. After defeating him, Two-Face tells the player through communicator that "the Penguin must have promised him a cure for his unfortunate condition. He has not yet learned that the cure is worse than the disease".
- Although he does not make an appearance as Clayface, Basil Karlo is referenced in Gotham City Impostors. There are posters on both sides of the theatre that depict a masked man, above of which are the words "Basil Karlo in..."
- The Basil Karlo version of Clayface is mentioned in Injustice 2 during Poison Ivy's fight dialogue with her own doppelganger who is mistaken for being Clayface's disguise.
- The Basil Karlo version of Clayface appears in Lego Batman: The Videogame, with his vocal effects provided by Ogie Banks. He is a lieutenant of the Riddler and the first boss of Chapter 1 "The Riddler's Revenge". The Riddler assigns him to steal a key from Gotham Bank, and the two of them blow up the bank vault containing the key. In the villain campaign, he gives the key to the Riddler, and then he notices the gold bars, and plays around with them, even building a house out of them - which appears as a minikit. In the hero campaign, he is looking at a silver bar, then he prepares to battle Batman and Robin. However, the Dynamic Duo defeats him by blowing up the silver Lego objects he stands by, and using a batarang to spray gas and make him fall into the cage that contained the key, where Robin apprehends him. When Batman chases the Riddler, he makes Batman trip, but the Riddler leaves without him. In the ending cutscene, he is seen in Arkham Asylum making cups out of clay. His two abilities are super strength and double jump, and he is the only one of the Riddler's followers (excluding the Riddler himself) that is not immune to toxins. His look and structure is that of the Matt Hagen version from the DC Animated Universe (though his biography says differently). His actions and mannerisms suggest a low level of intelligence, e.g. when he steals the key in the villain campaign, he tries to cram the key horizontally through the opening of the cage until the Riddler rotates it vertically. In the DS version, he is Hagen instead of Karlo, despite having the same design as Karlo.
- The Basil Karlo version of Clayface makes an appearance in Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, voiced by Fred Tatasciore. He appears as a boss fight and unlockable character, found in an alley behind Gotham Bank. Before the fight, he says, "My mom told me I could be anything I wanted. Anything!" (which is true after gaining his powers).
- The Basil Karlo version of Clayface appears in Lego Dimensions. He appears in The Lego Batman Movie adventure pack as the third boss.
- The Basil Karlo version of Clayface will appear as one of the main characters in Lego DC Super-Villains, with Fred Tatasciore reprising his role from Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. In comparison to the first two games where he was a mini-figure, Clayface is redesigned with a transformation ability to become a big figure.
- Clayface can be seen in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Never seen in his true form, he is shown changing into the various likenesses of Commissioner Gordon and Quincy Sharp (both voiced by Tom Kane) as well as Aaron Cash (voiced by Duane R. Shepard Sr.) while asking to be let out of his cell (behind a strong glass wall smeared in clay). His biography states he is Basil Karlo, although the presence of a mannequin in the cell hints at Preston Payne's relationship with "Helena". His profile is obtained by scanning him (revealing that he has no visible skeleton unlike all other characters who are scanned), solving the Riddler's riddle: "A case of mistaken identity?". After he is revealed, he stays in Gordon's form for the remainder of the game, and only laughs when the player tries talking to him. When the player returns to the Penitentiary section and finds Warden Sharp gone with the final Arkham Chronicles inscribed on the floor, Clayface as Gordon states that the warden left in a hurry. He is also one of the villains who is listed on the party list.
- Clayface appears in Batman: Arkham City. He is seen present throughout the game, posing as a healthy version of Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill) to draw attention away from the dying Clown Prince of Crime. Scanning a poster of The Terror (a reference to Karlo's first appearance) outside the Monarch Theatre reveals that Clayface had escaped Arkham Island after the events of the previous game by posing as Quincy Sharp, and had been on the run from Hugo Strange ever since. The plot is revealed after Clayface as Joker is impaled and supposedly killed by Talia al Ghul. Batman then realizes what has happened, only for Talia to be shot and killed by the real Joker. Finally Clayface reveals himself and takes the cure for the Titan toxin, causing Batman to be highly shocked, as Karlo was not even an inmate of Arkham City. He is the game's final boss, where he reverts to his true form for the fight. Clayface says that he joined up with Joker for the chance to play "the role of a lifetime" before brutally attacking Batman with a series of shapeshifting attacks and spawning miniature Clayfaces. Joker destroys the floor of the Monarch Theatre, sending the combatants into the Lazarus Chamber. There, Batman defeats Clayface and retrieves the cure using freezing grenades and Talia's sword.
- In Batman: Arkham Origins, posters for a Basil Karlo comedy are seen next to a theater.
- Although Basil Karlo does not appear in Batman: Arkham Knight, he is referenced in posters that say Basil Karlo is The Terror that can be found in Panessa Studios.
- Several other versions are referenced in Batman: Arkham Knight via a poster of a movie named "Dark Interlude" starring Matt Hagen and Stella Bates (a reference to the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Mudslide"), found in the clock tower, as well as other co-stars Preston Payne and Sondra Fuller.
- In The Batman Adventures #9, Clayface makes a cameo in a flashback sequence along other Batman rogues. He finally returns in issue #14, revealing that he survived the fireworks explosion in the Justice League episode "Secret Society" and decides to finish off Batman and the Gray Ghost. However, at the end, he gets mixed with concrete and ends up becoming an statue of the Gray Ghost, ending his threat once and for all.
- Issue #12 of the comic book tie-in to Young Justice (which serves as a prequel to the episode "Downtime") reveals Matt Hagen/Clayface's back story as a mediocre member of the League of Shadows who romances Talia al Ghul. After her father Ra's al Ghul reluctantly gives the couple his blessing, Hagen reveals that he has cancer and uses her to heal himself in the Lazarus Pit. After he is submerged, Talia takes revenge on him by locking him there for months. After Ra's al Ghul uses the Pit, Hagen emerges mutated and insane and attacks Talia, only to be subdued by Ra's al Ghul and Sensei. After convincing Clayface to sleep, Ra's al Ghul uses him against Batman in Gotham upon having Sensei dropping Clayface off in Gotham while demanding an explanation from Talia about how Clayface came to be. Clayface's attack leads up to the team's battle with him in the sewers. In issue #13, Clayface secretly studies the team and takes down Superboy, Miss Martian, Kid Flash, and Robin in each trap. Before Clayface can finish off Aqualad, Batman intervenes and quickly subdues him with a stronger taser, which causes Clayface to dissolve into a puddle.
- In Batman '66 (which is based off the 1960s TV series), the Basil Karlo name was used for the true identity of False Face. In issue #23, False Face gets his hands on a shapeshifting formula that transforms him into Clayface.
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