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Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance (Karlo)
Detective Comics #40
(June 1940)
Detective Comics #298
(December 1961)
Detective Comics #478
(July–August 1978)
Outsiders #21
(July 1987)
(Clay Payne, Claything)
Batman #550 (January 1998)
Catwoman #1 (2004)
Batman: Gotham Knights #60
(February 2005)
Created by (Karlo)
Bob Kane
Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff
(Payne, Fuller)
Len Wein, Mike W. Barr, Marshall Rogers
(Clay Payne, Claything)
Doug Moench, Kelley Jones
Ed Brubaker, Darwyn Cooke
A.J. Lieberman
In-story information
Alter ego Basil Jamal Karlo
Matthew D. Hagen
Preston "Bill" Payne
Sondra Fuller
Cassius Payne
Dr. Peter Malley
Todd Russells
Johnny Williams
Ethan Bennett
Team affiliations (Karlo) The Society
Injustice League
(Hagen) Anti-Justice League
(All Clayfaces) Mud Pack
Notable aliases (Karlo) Clayface-Prime
(Fuller) Lady Clay
(Malley) Claything
Abilities (Karlo)
Shapeshifting (body made out of mud)
Power duplication
Melting people by touch
Temporary shapeshifting and voice-shifting
Body constituted by living mud, which he can divide or change the tone of at will
Superhuman strength from exo-skeleton suit
Melting people by touching them
Power duplication
(Cassius "Clay" Payne)
Power duplication
Superhuman strength
(Dr. Peter Malley)
Melting people by looking at them
(Todd Russell)
(Johnny Williams)

Clayface (Basil Karlo) an alias used by several fictional supervillains appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Most of them possess clay-like bodies and shape-shifting abilities, and all of them have been enemies of Batman.

In 2010, IGN named Clayface the 73rd-greatest villain in comic book history.

Publication history

Created by Bob Kane, the original Clayface (Basil Karlo) was a B-movie actor who began a life of crime using the identity of a villain he portrayed in a horror film.[1]

In the late 1950s, Batman began facing a series of science fiction-inspired foes, including Matt Hagen, a treasure-hunter given vast shape-shifting powers and resiliency by radioactive protoplasm, who became the new 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 but became a claylike creature that needed to pass his condition on to others to survive instead. His condition was used as a metaphor for drug abuse and sexually transmitted disease.

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, second, and third Clayfaces. During that time, Payne and Fuller had a son dubbed "Cassius 'Clay' Payne", who also had metahuman clay powers. During this era, the original Clayface used the DNA of Payne and Fuller to become the most powerful Clayface, often considered the current and ultimate incarnation of the villain.

Clayface has appeared in three animated adaptations of Batman, starting with the late 1970s-era The New Adventures of Batman, which featured a comedic version of Hagen. The 1990s-era Batman: The Animated Series featured a past-his-prime actor disfigured in a car accident who uses an experimental, addictive cosmetic to regain his appearance only to become a monstrous hunk of clay after a massive overdose of the substance. This interpretation, like the series' Mr. Freeze, was applauded as a deeper, more sympathetic version of a sci-fi-era villain, and the comic book incarnation of the Basil Karlo Clayface was retooled after it. The 2000s-era The Batman featured a new character Ethan Bennett, who had ties to a young Bruce Wayne, as Clayface before introducing a version of Basil Karlo.

In 2009, Clayface was ranked as IGN's 73rd Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.[2]

Fictional character biography

Basil Karlo

The Basil Karlo Clayface. Art by Glen Orbik and Laurel Blechman.

The original Clayface, Basil Karlo, appeared in Detective Comics #40. He is an actor who is driven insane when he hears that a remake of the classic horror film he had starred in, The Terror, would be shot without him acting in the film, even though he is to be one of the advising staff. Donning the costume of the film's villain he once played, Clayface, 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.[3] He reappears in Detective Comics #49 (March 1941) 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 creator Bob Kane states that the character was partially inspired by the Lon Chaney, Sr. version of The Phantom of the Opera and that the name of the character comes from Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone.[4][5]

Much later, 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. Even though "the Mud Pack", as the group called itself, is defeated, Karlo injects himself with samples from Preston Payne, Matt Hagen and Sondra Fuller, gaining the abilities to shapeshift and melt with a touch; he becomes the self-declared "Ultimate" Clayface.[6] 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 powers. 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 on 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. Poison Ivy eventually battles and defeats Karlo, sinking him deep into the ground. It appears that the Ultimate Clayface is destroyed in this battle, but has resurfaced 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 bordered 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 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 demands for Libra to do something that will draw Superman to them.[7]

Black Mask attempted to control Clayface by implanting a device in his body. He escaped Black Mask but was captured and imprisoned by the Outsiders.

In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe) as a part of "Death of the Family" storyline, Poison Ivy breaks Basil Karlo out of Arkham intent on marrying him.[8] This turns out to be a ruse with Poison Ivy messing with Karlo's mind. He later sets out to seek revenge.[9]

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 him by trapping him in a security system that can only be deactivated with Karlo's original DNA, reasoning that Karlo has changed too much for his original DNA to be present in his system.[10]

Matt Hagen

Cover to Detective Comics #298. Matt Hagen as Clayface II.

The second 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, 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.[1][11]

He eventually copies the pool's protoplasmic jelly by chemistry studies, although the artificial proptoplasm only allows him five hours of Clayface powers compared to the full two days of the pool's.

Hagen is ultimately killed by a shadow demon during the 12-issue limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths.[12]

Clayface appeared alongside the other dead villains only to be defeated by Hawk and Dove and the Teen Titans.[13]

During the "Mud Pack" storyline, the other villains who use the name Clayface gather Hagen's remains and make him a post-mortem member of their gang.

Preston Payne

Preston Payne as Clayface III battles Batman. From Detective Comics #479.

The third Clayface, Preston Payne, first appeared at the end of Detective Comics #477 before making his first full appearance in #478.[14] Suffering from hyperpituitarism, Payne works at S.T.A.R. Labs searching for a cure. He obtains a sample of the then-living 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 touches his horrified girlfriend, she completely melts. Payne builds an exoskeleton anti-melting suit to prevent himself from touching anyone, but he learns that he needs to spread his melting contagion onto others to survive (he feels pain if he doesn't melt anyone). During this time his mental health starts to slip as he falls in love with a wax mannequin he names "Helena", thinking she is the only woman 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 doesn't give her up, he keeps her in Arkham Asylum, saying "we're both too polite to admit divorce, but she can't live forever."[1]

When Swamp Thing visits Arkham Asylum, he witnesses Payne in an argument with "Helena".[15]

Dr. R. Hutton takes a nightshift 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."[16]

During the events of "The Mud Pack", Sondra Fuller, the fourth Clayface, begins masquerading as the hero Looker and visits Payne at Arkham. That same night, he gets into an argument with "Helena" and unintentionally knocks her head off. Believing 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 fall in love and go on to live together, leading to Fuller becoming pregnant with their child, Cassius.

Preston acquires medicine to control his pain and now feels the "hunger" 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 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 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.[17]

Sondra Fuller

The fourth Clayface, Sondra Fuller (also known as Lady Clay), first appeared in Outsiders (volume 1) #21. She is a member of Strikeforce 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.[18]

She possesses identical abilities to those of Matt Hagen, but they are permanent, without the requirement for a source of protoplasm. She can additionally copy any special powers of the being she is mimicking. She is defeated by the Outsiders.[1]

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 get married and they have a child named Cassius "Clay" Payne. After Abbatoir kidnaps the child, the couple get into a fight involving Azrael/Batman.

The Mud Pack

Before the debut appearances of the fifth and sixth Clayfaces, Lady Clay and Clayface III team up, breaking Clayface I out of prison and futilely revive Clayface II. Together, the quartet form "the Mud Pack." Clayface I later copies the others' powers by injecting himself with extracts of samples of Clayface II,III and Lady Clay, becoming the "Ultimate Clayface." The three battle, and are defeated by Batman in Detective Comics #604-607. [19]

Cassius "Clay" Payne

Cassius "Clay" Payne as the fifth Clayface

After the Mud Pack, Payne and Fuller fall in love and eventually have a child together named Cassius "Clay" Payne, who becomes the fifth Clayface and debuted in Batman #550.[20] 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.[20]

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, becoming a Claything, the piece can give that human Clayface-like abilities, such as becoming soft and malleable, being able to withstand bullets and other harm, and could also manifest Payne's ability to melt objects; all this person would have to do to perform such an action is think about it.

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 Clayface mode while awake (a similar trait shared by Plasmus in the Teen Titans animated series (2003-2006)).[21]

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 the 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 FBI vehicles, but the measures to contain him are proven useless; Cassius breaks loose, escaping into the desert.[22]

Dr. Peter "Claything" Malley

The sixth Clayface, also known as 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 and his remains are stored at the DEO Headquarters.[20]

Todd Russell

The seventh Clayface 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 capture his shriveled body 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.[23] 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.[24]

Johnny Williams

Johnny Williams as Clayface on the cover of Batman: Gotham Knights #69 (Nov. 2005). Art by Claudio Castellini.

The eighth Clayface debuted in Batman: Gotham Knights #60 (February 2005).[25] Johnny 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.[26][27] Eventually, Williams realizes he is being manipulated. Knowing that he is going to die, he offers Batman assistance against Hush in exchange for protecting his family. He redeems himself in his death, also ensuring that Alfred Pennyworth is cleared of murder.[28]

Clayface of Japan

The ninth Clayface debuted in Batman Incorporated Vol. 1 #6 (June 2011) as part of The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe).[29] Batman tasks Batman Japan (Jiro Osamu) to fight The Clayface of Japan about two-and-a-half months into his Batman Incorporated venture.[30] Not much is known about this Clayface, although he resembles all the previous Clayfaces and seems to have their same power set. Presumably, this Clayface, as a rival to Osamu, is a native to Japan. Batman states that this Clayface is a newcomer, a samurai, and operates in or around Hokkaido.[31]

Clayface clones

In The New 52 (a reboot of the DC Comics universe), a villain named Jeffrey Bode makes several short-lived clones of Clayface as well.[32]

Powers and abilities

Each of the Clayfaces has a different power with the exception of their shapeshifting ability.

  • In earlier appearances, Basil Karlo had no powers. In recent comics, Basil Karlo's body is made out of mud upon taking the DNA of Clayface III and Lady Clay, enabling him to gain the combined powers of both. In The New 52, these are improved to a level in which he can mimic the DNA of others.
  • Matt Hagen had temporary shape-shifting, and voice-shifting, and a body constituted by living mud which he can divide or change tone at will. Hagen had to re-immerse himself in the protoplasm to recharge his powers.
  • Preston Payne originally had shape-shifting powers, yet ended up gaining the ability to melt people with his touch. He has super-strength from his exo-skeleton anti-melting suit. Preston's shape-shifting ability was later restored by Prometheus.
  • Sondra Fuller has shape-shifting powers and power duplication.
  • Cassius "Clay" Payne has the 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 melt people without touching them.
  • Todd Russell had shape-shifting powers.
  • Johnny Williams had shape-shifting powers.

Other versions


The Earth-9 version of Clayface is featured in Tangent Comics' Superman's Reign series. This version is a shapeshifter like the mainstream versions, but his base form is that of a hulking, misshapened human with melted skin.[33]


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.[34] During attacks by Aquaman and Ocean Master, Clayface is pushed by Aquaman into the water apparently killing him.[35]

In other media



  • Clayface's first animated appearance was in Filmation's 1970s TV series called The New Adventures of Batman, voiced by Lou Scheimer and later by Lennie Weinrib. This was the Matt Hagen version and he 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 Matt Hagen forces former criminal-turned-acrobat Kit Martin to help him in exchange that he won't tell 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 sneak 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 regresses back to Matt Hagen and begins to drown, 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 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.
    • Clayface is introduced in the critically acclaimed 1990s series Batman: The Animated Series, with Matt Hagen having several of Basil Karlo's aspects as well.
      Matt Hagen as Clayface as seen in Batman: The Animated Series.
      In the episode "Feat of Clay" (written by veteran comic book writer Marv Wolfman), Matt Hagen was a past-his-prime actor disfigured in a horrible car accident. While recovering in a burn clinic, corrupt businessman Roland Daggett makes him a test subject for the compound 'Renuyu' that he promises will immediately restore his youthful good looks. In exchange, Hagen must use the chemical to commit crimes for Daggett. Matt tries to resist but is forced to comply as the Renuyu chemical is extremely addictive. After Hagen botches an attack on Lucius Fox while disguised as Bruce Wayne, Daggett cuts his supply off. Hagen attempts to steal a large quantity of Renuyu from Daggett's compound but is caught and Daggett's men pour an entire canister of the compound down his throat and leave him for dead. Rather than kill him, the overdose saturates every cell in his body, turning him into a 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 the villain. When caught, Clayface fakes his death (with the body the morgue had turned out to be a hollow shell which dried up and broke apart). The episode "Mudslide" shows Clayface reappearing and revealing that he has been in hiding and 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 during Hagen's career who fell in love with Matt. 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 his body absorbs too much rain to hold itself and he falls into the ocean where he dissolves.
    • Clayface returns in The New Batman Adventures.
      Matt Hagen as Clayface in The New Batman Adventures
      Clayface makes a brief appearance in the pilot episode "Holiday Knights" where he separates himself into various little boys to steal items during a Christmas Eve rush. Revealing himself, he attacks Detectives Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya but is defeated by Batgirl. In the episode "Growing Pains," Clayface returns barely alive after continuing to dissolve. Clayface's remains drift near a pipe leaking strange chemicals into the ocean which combine with Clayface's remains to restore his strength. Still weakened, Clayface sends a portion of himself which takes a little girl's form later named 'Annie' (voiced by Francesca Marie Smith) to see if the city is still 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, to which Annie allows herself to be reabsorbed (effectively killing her) to save Robin. Enraged by Annie's 'death', Robin almost kills Clayface with gallons of solvent, but Batman intervenes and stops and the villain is 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. In the episode "Secret Society", he is revealed to have been captured, separated and sealed into several biohazard canisters by Morgan Edge. The Secret Society attack Edge's mansion to free Clayface and offers membership. Now less aggressive and psychopathic than before, Clayface is reluctant at first but Gorilla Grodd promises to find a way to revert Clayface back to Matt Hagen yet allow him to keep 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.
File:Clayface of Tragedy.jpg
Ethan Bennett as Clayface in The Batman
  • There are two versions of Clayface that appear on the aughts TV series The Batman. The first incarnation is Ethan Bennett (voiced by Steve Harris), a detective in the Gotham City Police Department and Bruce Wayne's best friend. The second incarnation introduced is the Basil Karlo incarnation (making his animated debut), voiced by Wallace Langham (in "Clayfaces") and by Lex Lang (in "The Batman/Superman Story"). Bennett turns into Clayface in the two-part season finale "The Rubber Face of Comedy" and "Clayface of Tragedy" when he inhales a dose of the Joker's 'Joker Putty'. After a session of extensive brainwashing and traumatizing, Ethan is rescued by Batman and Detective Ellen Yin. After publicly denouncing Chief Angel Rojas's claims about Batman and getting suspended for it, 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 deals with Yin and Batman. In the second season, Bennett appears primarily as Clayface. In the episode "Meltdown", Clayface is captured and put on trial for his crimes. Despite being released on probation, the temptations of being a criminal were too severe for Bennett. In the episode "Grundy's Night," Clayface impersonates Solomon Grundy in order to loot the city on Halloween but is ultimately stopped by Batman. In the fourth season, Bennett has a change of heart while Karlo appears. In the episode "Clayfaces", Bennett seems to have finally reformed by tracking down and capturing Joker, disguising himself as Joker's henchmen Punch and Judy. He hands 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.
    Basil Karlo as Clayface in The Batman.
    Meanwhile, the untalented actor Karlo is repeatedly turned down in auditions for a dog food commercial when he hears that Bennett is about to be cured. Karlo breaks into Wayne Industries and drinks a refined, purified sample of the same mutagen that Bennett was exposed to. This successfully turns Basil into a new version of Clayface and he gives himself a more conventional appearance. After being rejected once again, Karlo snaps and uses his Clayface powers to attack the people who rejected him. Karlo initially believes this would be the death of his career but he then 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 restraining 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. Visited by Bruce, Ethan states that they should play basketball one day. Since the antidote finally cured all of his mutated cells, Ethan will eventually be free. However, the episode's final scene shows that Karlo has retained his powers. The episode "Artifacts" depicts 20 years into the future with Bennett reinstated into the GCPD as Chief of Police. In the final season's "The Batman/Superman Story", Karlo reappears when Clayface and Black Mask are hired by Lex Luthor to kidnap Lois Lane as bait for a trap to lure in 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 Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Joker: The Vile and the Villainous" features a portrait of the Preston Payne version of Clayface in the villain bar where Batman's Rogues Gallery hangs out.[36]
  • The Matt Hagen version of Clayface appears in the Young Justice, 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.

Live action

  • 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.
  • A younger version of Clayface will appear in season 2 of Gotham.[37]


Video games

  • The Matt Hagen version of Clayface appears as the final boss of Sega CD version of The Adventures of Batman & Robin, although he takes on the appearance of Rupert Thorne (who was on vacation at the time) throughout the majority of the game, having hired other villains such as Joker, Poison Ivy and 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. Of note, this is the only time in the entire DC Animated Universe in which Robin comes into conflict with Clayface. 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 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 Lego Batman: The Videogame, with his vocal effects provided by Ogie Banks. He is a lieutenant of the Riddler. His look and structure is that of the Matt Hagen version from Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures (though his biography says it's Basil Karlo)[38] His actions and mannerisms suggest a low level of intelligence.
  • The Basil Karlo version of Clayface can be seen in Batman: Arkham Asylum. Although never seen in his true form, he is shown changing into various other game characters while asking to be let out of his cell (behind a strong glass wall smeared in clay). His biography states it 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 scanned characters), solving Riddler's riddle: "A case of mistaken identity?" After he is revealed, he stays in the form of Commissioner Gordon 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 Quincy Sharp gone with the final Arkham Chronicles enscribed on the floor, Clayface as Commissioner Gordon states that the warden left in a hurry. He is also one of the villains who is listed on the party list. It is stated that while during therapy, he likes to constantly turn into the Doctor interviewing him, for no other reason than to annoy her, which he finds amusing.
  • The Basil Karlo version of Clayface appears in Batman: Arkham City, voiced by Rick D. Wasserman. He is seen present throughout the game, posing as a healthy Joker to draw attention away from the dying Clown Prince of Crime. He is also the game's final boss, where he reverts to his true form for the fight. 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. While Clayface does pose as Joker for most of the game, the only indicator of the ruse is that Clayface doesn't have any bones, which can be seen during the Joker boss fight. The plot is revealed after Clayface-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. 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 Talia's sword. When Batman destroys the machinery around the Lazarus Pit, it hits the defeated Karlo, knocking him into the Pit and causing a massive explosion.
  • A version of Clayface appears in DC Universe Online, voiced by Benjamin Jansen. He attacks Gotham S.C.U. until the players activates a containment unit to trap Clayface. In the villain campaign, the players free Clayface from his containment unit. The player will 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 hasn't yet learned that the cure is worse than the disease".
  • Although he doesn't 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 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 remarks on how his mother always told him he could "be anything" (which after gaining his powers is, of course, true).

Clayface is set to appear in the upcoming game, Batman Arkham Knight.


  • 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.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Wallace, Dan (2008). "Clayface I-IV". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 85. ISBN 0-7566-4119-5. OCLC 213309017. 
  2. ^ Clayface is number 73 , IGN.
  3. ^ Detective Comics #40
  4. ^ Bob Kane, Batman and Me (Foestfille, CA: Eclipse Books 1989), pg 111.
  5. ^ Detective Comics #49
  6. ^ Secret Origins #44
  7. ^ Final Crisis #2
  8. ^ Detective Comics #14
  9. ^ Detective Comics #15
  10. ^ Batman (vol.2) #20
  11. ^ Detective Comics #298
  12. ^ Crisis on Infinite Earths #1-12
  13. ^ Hawk and Dove Annual #1
  14. ^ Detective Comics #778
  15. ^ Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #52
  16. ^ Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #66
  17. ^ Justice League: Cry for Justice #3
  18. ^ Outsiders #21
  19. ^ Detective Comics #604-607
  20. ^ a b c Batman #550
  21. ^ Batman: Gotham After Midnight #3-4
  22. ^ Final Crisis Aftermath: Run #3
  23. ^ "The Real Batman Chronology Project: Modern Age (Year Eighteen) Part One". Retrieved 2010-12-29. 
  24. ^ Catwoman #42
  25. ^ "The Real Batman Chronology Project: Modern Age (Year Eighteen) Part Three". 2006-09-02. Retrieved 2010-12-29. 
  26. ^ Batman #614
  27. ^ Batman #617-618
  28. ^ Batman: Gotham Knight #69-71
  29. ^ "The Real Batman Chronology Project: Modern Age (Year Twenty-Three Part One)". 2011-09-05. Retrieved 2014-08-26. 
  30. ^ Batman Incorporated Vol. 1 #6
  31. ^ Batman Incorporated Vol. 2 #0
  32. ^ Deathstroke Vol. 2 #1
  33. ^ Tangent: Superman's Reign #10
  34. ^ Flashpoint #2 (June 2011)
  35. ^ Flashpoint: Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager #2 (July 2011)
  36. ^ "Formspring forum thread". Retrieved 2013-12-10. 
  37. ^ Burlingame, Russ (April 5, 2015). "Gotham To Introduce Clayface, Mr. Freeze and Mad Hatter in Season Two". Comic 
  38. ^ Game Informer features a two-page gallery of the many heroes and villains who appear in the game with a picture for each character and a descriptive paragraph. See "LEGO Batman: Character Gallery," Game Informer 186 (October 2008): 93.

Further reading

  • Beatty, Scott (2009). Wonder Woman: The Ultimate Guide To The Amazon Princess. Dorling Kindersley Publishing. p. 100. ISBN 0-7894-9616-X.