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 (comics)
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
Team affiliations (Karlo) Secret Society of Super Villains
Notable aliases (Karlo) Clayface-Prime
(Fuller) Lady Clay
(Malley) Claything
Abilities (Karlo) Shapeshifting (body made out of mud)
(Hagen) Temporary shapeshifting and voice-shifting
Body constituted by living mud, which he can divide or change the tone of at will
(Payne) Superhuman strength from exo-skeleton
Melting people by touching them
(Fuller) Shapeshifting
Power duplication
(Cassius "Clay" Payne) Shapeshifting
Power duplication
Superhuman strength
(Dr. Peter Malley) Shapeshifting
Melting people by looking at them
(Todd Russell) Shapeshifting
(Johnny Williams) Shapeshifting

Clayface is an alias used by several DC Comics]] fictional character]]s, most of them possessing clay]]-like bodies and shape-shifting]] abilities. All of them have been supervillain|enemies]] of Batman]].

In 2010, IGN]] named Clayface 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 decay|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 onto others to survive instead. His condition was used as a metaphor]] for drug abuse]] and sexually transmitted disease]].

Sondra Fuller of Strike Force Kobra (comics)|Kobra]], used the Terrorism group's technology to become the fourth Clayface, also known as Lady Clay. She formed the Mudpack 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 animation|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 disfigurement|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 (TV series)|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

Image:Clayface2.jpg|200px|right|thumb|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 mask of the film's villain, 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 Dick Grayson|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 (1925 film)|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 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 (comics)|Looker]] of the Outsiders (comics)|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 Batman: Cataclysm|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 (comics)|No Man's Land]]" storyline, Karlo holds Poison Ivy (comics)|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 Villains United|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 the member of Libra (DC Comics)|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]

In The New 52]] 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]

Matt Hagen

Image:Dc298.jpg|200px|thumb|right|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 decay|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][10]

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]].[11]

Clayface appeared alongside the other dead villains only to be defeated by Hawk and Dove]] and the Teen Titans]].[12]

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.

In the Post-Crisis, it is revealed that Hagen survived the shadow demon attack. He later attempts to capture Power Girl]] shortly before Infinite Crisis]] occurs in JSA: Classified issues 1-4, but he is later defeated by the original Multiverse (DC Comics)|Multiverse]]'s Earth-Two]] Superman]] during the Infinite Crisis as he's about to capture her alongside several other villains for Alexander Luthor, Jr.]] of the original Multiverse's Earth-Three#New Multiverse|Earth-3]], as seen in issue 2 of Infinite Crisis.[13]

Preston Payne

File:cf3.jpg|thumb|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 (comics)|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 child abuse|abused]] by his parents.

A stunted, emaciated Preston Payne appears in the graphic novel Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth|Arkham Asylum]] by Grant Morrison]] and Dave McKean]]. He is used to metaphorically represent sexually transmitted disease]]s.

Payne next appears in the Justice League: Cry for Justice]] miniseries, having been coerced into working for Prometheus (comics)|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 the explosive device has killed him.[17]

Sondra Fuller

The fourth Clayface, Sondra Fuller (also known as Lady Clay), first appeared in Outsiders (comics)|Outsiders]] (volume 1) #21. She is a member of Strikeforce Kobra who is transformed into a shape-changer by her employer Kobra (comics)|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 Abattoir (comics)|Abbatoir]] kidnaps the child, the couple get into a fight involving Azrael (comics)|Azrael/Batman]].

The Mudpack

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 Mudpack." Clayface I later copies the others' powers by injecting himself with extracts of samples of Clayface 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

File:Clayface.jpg|right|thumb|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 (TV Series)|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 (DC Comics)|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

Image:Gothamknights69.jpg|180px|thumb|right|Artwork for the cover of Batman: Gotham Knights]]

  1. 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 (comics)|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]

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.[29]


In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint (comics)|Flashpoint]] event, a version of Clayface is a member of Deathstroke]]'s pirates after being broken out of a floating prison by Deathstroke.[30] During attacks by Aquaman]] and Ocean Master]], Clayface is pushed by Aquaman into the water apparently killing him.[31]

In other media


  • Clayface's first appearance outside the comics was Filmation's The New Adventures of Batman]] voiced by Lou Scheimer]] and later by Lennie Weinrib]]. This was the Matt Hagen version of Clayface and he must drink 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 a former criminal-turned-acrobat named 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 James Gordon (comics)|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 super tanker 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 (comics)|Joker]], Penguin (comics)|Penguin]], Catwoman, and Clayface to keep the Dynamic Duo busy while he steals America's nuclear power plants.

Image:Clayface-Batman.jpg|thumb|right|225px|Clayface seen in the Batman: The Animated Series]] episode "Feat of Clay, Part II".]]

  • The DC Animated Universe]] featured a version of Clayface voiced by Golden Globe]] winner Ron Perlman]]:
    • Introduced in Batman: The Animated Series]], the Matt Hagen version of Clayface has several aspects of Basil Karlo as well. In the episode "wikia:DCAnimated:Feat of Clay|Feat of Clay]]" (written by veteran comic book writer Marv Wolfman]]), Matt Hagen was a past-his-prime actor disfigurement|disfigured]] in a horrible car accident. While recovering in a burn clinic, corrupt businessman Roland Daggett]] makes him a test subject for a compound called "Renuyu" that he promises will immediately restore his youthful good looks. In exchange, Hagen must use the chemical to commit crimes for Daggett. He 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 drug overdose|overdose]] saturates every cell (biology)|cell]] in his body, turning him into a bulky and misshapen clay-like form. For short periods of time, he can shapeshift into anything or anybody he wishes. He tries to get revenge]] on Daggett, but Batman stops him. When caught, Clayface fakes his death as the body the morgue had hardened up and cracked. In the episode "Mudslide", Clayface reappears and reveals that he has been in hiding and that his body is beginning to deteriorate. He is restored to a semblance of health by a former medical adviser on his films named Dr. Stella Bates, who falls in love with Hagen. Batman tracks Hagen down and prevents Bates' treatment of Clayface. 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.
    • In The New Batman Adventures]], Clayface makes a brief appearance in the pilot episode "wikia:DCAnimated:Holiday Knights|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 (comics)|Harvey Bullock]] and Renee Montoya]], but is defeated by Barbara Gordon|Batgirl]]. Image:Clayface3.jpg||thumb|right|225px|Clayface in The New Batman Adventures]]In the episode "Growing Pains", Clayface returns barely alive after continuing to dissolve. Clayface (or his 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 the form of a little girl (voiced by Francesca Smith|Francesca Marie Smith]]) to see if the city is still safe for him to resurface. The girl unexpectedly develops an individual personality and leaves him, wandering around Gotham with no memory of who she is. During one of his patrols, Tim Drake|Robin]] encounters the girl and develops an affection for her, naming her "Annie". During this time, Clayface poses as the girl's child abuse|abusive]] father, committing various robberies in order to make a living in the sewers of Gotham. Eventually, Clayface recovers, cornering Robin and Annie, who 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 him, 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.
    • In the Justice League (TV series)|Justice League]] episode "Secret Society", it is revealed that Clayface had been captured, separated and sealed into several biological hazard|biohazard]] canisters by Morgan Edge]]. Gorilla Grodd]] and his Secret Society of Super Villains|Secret Society]] attack Edge's mansion, freeing Clayface, and offering him membership. Now less aggressive and psychopathic than before, Clayface is reluctant at first but 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 Society after Flash (comics)|Flash]] and Hawkgirl]] stuff him with fireworks and set them off. Also in the episode "Savage Time", an alternate version of Annie was joyfully chasing an alternate version of Robin.
  • Clayface made an appearance in the 12th episode of the short-lived Birds of Prey (TV series)|Birds of Prey]] TV series portrayed by Kirk Baltz]]. This version of Clayface is a sculptor who is schadenfreude|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 (comics)|Joker]] to kill Catwoman]]. He has a son named Chris Cassius (portrayed by Ian Reed Kesler]]) who turns 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.

Image:Clayface of Tragedy.jpg|right|thumb|Clayface in The Batman]]

  • There are two versions of Clayface in The Batman (TV series)|The Batman]]:
    • The first incarnation is Ethan Bennett (voiced by Steve Harris (actor)|Steve Harris]]), a detective in the Gotham City Police Department]] and Bruce Wayne's best friend. Clayface originates in the two-part episode "The Rubber Face of Comedy/Clayface of Tragedy". After he inhales a dose of the Joker's 'Joker Putty' (following a session of extensive brainwashing]], driving him insane), Bennett is rescued by Batman and Detective Ellen Yin]]. He is suspended by Angel Rojas|Chief Rojas]] after publicly denouncing the chief's claims about Batman. At his apartment, Bennett mutates into a featureless gray clay-like figure, and tries to look for help, scaring away the locals, though he manages to change back into his original form with practice. At one point, he even impersonates Solomon Grundy (comics)|Solomon Grundy]] in order to loot the city on Halloween, but is ultimately stopped by Batman. As Clayface returns in the fourth season episode "Clayfaces", Bennett seems to have finally reformed. He tracks down and captures the Joker, disguising himself as henchmen Punch and Judy. He hands him over to the police without using excessive force, and turns himself in to the authorities, who take him to Arkham Asylum. However, Bennett has not completely regained Bruce Wayne's (and Batman's) trust. He is eager to leave Arkham and continue working as a police officer, although Batman refuses to consider this request until Bennett is cured. When Basil Karlo begins wreaking havoc as the second Clayface, Bennett feels he is the only one who could defeat him. Bennett once again requests a second chance, but after he is refused again, he resorts to escaping from Arkham. Bennett tracks down and battles Karlo with the aid of Batman and Robin. Bennett then formulates a plan of restraining Karlo down while Batman administers the antidote, which came off in success. As a result, both Bennett and Karlo are cured. Unfortunately, due to his criminal record as Clayface, Bennett is returned to Arkham to finish his sentence. When visited by Bruce, Ethan states that when he gets out, they should play basketball again, to which Bruce promises. Bruce also stated that even though Bennett shares a small amount of the antidote, all of his mutated cells are finally cured, assuring that he will be free. However, Karlo, who is also locked up in Arkham, is shown to have retained his powers. Eventually in the episode "Artifacts", which shows events 20 years into the future of "Clayfaces," it appears that Bennett not only gets out of Arkham, but also is reinstated into the GCPD, and becomes Chief of Police.
    • The fourth season episode "Clayfaces" introduces the Basil Karlo incarnation in his first actual appearance outside the comics as the series' second Clayface voiced by Wallace Langham]] and later by Lex Lang. Image:KarloClayface.jpg|right|thumb|Clayface (Basil Karlo) in The Batman.]]Here, he is shown to be an untalented actor. He is seen 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 Clayface mutagen]] Bennett was exposed to. This successfully turns him into a new Clayface. After being rejected once again for a dog food commercial, he snaps and uses his Clayface powers to attack the people who rejected him. At first, he believes this incident 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. At the last channel he stops on, it shows his previous movie The Revenge of The Atomic Clone. After a battle with Batman, Robin and Ethan Bennett, Karlo is injected with the Clayface antidote, seemingly restoring him to normal. However, the episode's final scene shows that Karlo has retained his powers. He reappears in "The Batman/Superman Story" Pt. 1 where he and Black Mask (comics)|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 him at once. Superman defeats the villains with Batman and Robin's help, but Clayface escapes. In "The Batman/Superman Story" Pt. 2, Clayface fights Batman and Robin in LexCorp's Gotham headquarters and ends up defeated.
  • In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold]] episode "Joker: The Vile and the Villainous", a portrait of the Preston Payne version of Clayface appears in the villain bar where Batman's Rogues Gallery hangs out.[32]
  • The Matt Hagen version of Clayface appears in the Young Justice (TV series)|Young Justice]] voiced by Nolan North. In the episode "Downtime", he is seen at the beginning where he overpowers the entire team and is about to kill Aqualad (Jackson Hyde)|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 (Kon-El)|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 Tim Drake|Robin]] uses, but Superboy uses a special pill to freeze Clayface. He is then returned to Arkham.

Video games

  • Clayface appears as the final boss of Sega CD]] version of The Adventures of Batman & Robin (video game)|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 (comics)|Poison Ivy]] and Riddler]] to stall Batman and Dick Grayson|Robin]]. He is fought in an aerial battle while fleeing in a helicopter from the Batplane|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 Dick Grayson 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.
  • Clayface appears on the final level of SNES]] version of The Adventures of Batman & Robin (video game)|The Adventures of Batman & Robin]] as one of several villains trying to take down Batman.
  • Clayface (Matt Hagen) is the second boss of Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu]] again voiced by Ron Perlman. Along with Scarecrow (DC Comics)|Scarecrow]] and Bane (comics)|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.
  • Clayface (Basil Karlo) appears in Lego Batman: The Videogame]] with his vocal effects provided by Ogie Banks]]. He is a lieutenant of the Riddler]]. His structure and look is that of the Matt Hagen Clayface from Batman: The Animated Series (though his biography states it's Basil Karlo)[33] His actions and mannerisms suggest a low level of intelligence.
  • Clayface (Basil Karlo) can be seen in the game 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.
  • 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 currently-dying Clown Prince of Crime. He is also the game's Boss (video gaming)#Final boss|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 the Joker for most of the game, the only indicator of the ruse is that Clayface can only become a perfectly healthy Joker, leading to some holes in the plan. 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 the 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. The 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. It is unknown whether this killed Clayface or if being immersed in the Pit allowed him to survive.
  • 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..."
  • A 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).


  • Issue 12 of the comic book tie-in to Young Justice (TV series)|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 Assassins|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. Clayface's attack leads up to the team's battle with him in the sewers. In issue 13, Clayface secretly studies Young Justice|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

  • List of Batman Family adversaries]]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 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. Detective Comics #298
  11. Crisis on Infinite Earths #1-12
  12. Hawk and Dove Annual #1
  13. Infinite Crisis #2
  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. 20.0 20.1 20.2 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. Tangent: Superman's Reign #10
  30. Flashpoint #2 (June 2011)
  31. Flashpoint: Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager #2 (July 2011)
  32. "". Archived from the original on 2012-08-01. 
  33. 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. 

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