This page is about the original Clayface, Basil Karlo. For information on later Clayfaces, see their respective pages.
Basil Karlo was a B-list movie star. When Basil hears that there will be a remake of a horror film he once starred in (The Terror) he is driven mad even though he was to be involved in the making of the film. Basil goes on a killing spree aimed at the cast and crew of the film wearing the mask of the films villain, Clayface. He is brought to justice by Batman and Robin.
Clayface was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and was first featured in Detective Comics #40.
During the golden age Basil Karlo was nothing more than a b-list actor turned crazy. He tried to kill all of his fellow actors and even Bruce Wayne's fiancée, but was stopped multiple times by Batman and Robin.
Basil Karlo was forgotten for many years after the second Clayface, Matt Hagen, garnered more popularity until his eventual death. Karlo was eventually brought back and gathered together the other Clayfaces at the time, Preston Payne & Sondra Fuller as well as the remains of Matt Hagen. Karlo stole the powers of the remaining Clayfaces, making himself the Ultimate Clayface and giving himself Shape-shifting and the ability to mimic the powers of those who copies (Although the latter was later dropped). This introduced the modern Clayface and the basis for the character today.
For the new continuity, Clayface was given a new origin. Basil Karlo is now shown as a much younger and playboy-esque actor. Karlo doesn't really desire the fame of acting and instead wants to play a "real-monster" in a film whilst still having everyone love him for it.
Clayface eventually becomes tired of his criminal-ways and desires instead to watch his old movies before he became a "freak". Deciding this isn't the life he wants, he turns over a new leaf by becoming an ally of Batman and a vigilante in Gotham City.
Major Story Arcs
Basil Karlo recruits the other Clayfaces at the time into a group called the mudpack, with the goal to get revenge on Batman once and for all. Karlo attempts to resurrect Matt Hagen but ultimately fails. After seemingly getting their revenge, Karlo double-crosses Preston Payne & Sondra Fuller and steals blood-samples from the both of them. Karlo injects himself with the samples and thus becomes the Ultimate Clayface. Basil, despite now possessing powers, is eventually defeated by both Batman and Looker who overloads Karlo's powers which causes him to fall directly into the Earth's core.
No Man's Land/ Salvation Run/ Final Crisis/ Outsiders
During No Man's Land, Clayface fights Poison Ivy. Ivy winning casts Basil's body deep into the earth. Basil would later reappear as a member of the Secret Society of Super Villains. Basil would also try and absorb Wonder Woman. Clayface is one of the villains who where send to the prison planet. He joined Jokers camp. Clayface appears in Final Crisis in Libras Secret Society of Supervillains. Clayface is one of the Arkham inmates forced to work for Black Mask. He flees to a mine and forces local residents to try to get the explosive device out of him. The Outsiders show up and stop him, and remove the chip in the process.
Brightest Day: Batgirl
Wendy Harris aka Proxy advises Stephanie that the police have cornered a man who is suspected of murdering his wife and are in need of outside assistance. In Gotham's financial district, Detective Nick Gage acts as the police negotiator while talking to Mr. Griswald, the crazed husband who is held up in his van. Gage tries to talk Griswald down and have him come out of the van. Unfortunately, Gage's task force comes under unsuspecting fire and the SWAT team is called in to retaliate. As the SWAT team approaches the van, Griswald throws a petrol can that bursts causing everything and everyone to go up in flames. Gage was in safe distance from the explosion and spots Griswald running from the van.
Gage still tries to convince Griswald in turning himself in but Griswald refuses to acknowledge Gage as they make their way to the roof of a building. The pursuit ends when Griswald has no adjacent roof top to jump to and Gage holds him at gunpoint. However, Griswald seems unfazed by the gun as he causes himself to explode into a mountain of clay. The explosion sends Gage flying off the building but as he fell, Stephanie swoops down to save Gage. The duo glide down to a nearby alleyway until Proxy informs Batgirl by via comm link that Clayface has made his way to Gotham's Bank & Trust. Stephanie goes through a series of ventilation shafts in order to make her way to the bank's main floor. Stephanie knows that Clayface has disguised himself in order to disappear amongst the crowd of patrons, tellers and security guards.
Stephanie activates the bank's security measures behind a service desk which locks down the building but when she tries to warn everybody of the situation, she soon realizes that the security guards have their guns trained on her. Steph uses her batarangs to disarm the guards thus allowing her the chance to explain what she has just done. Suddenly, one of the tellers informs Steph that she should get a hold of the bank's manager Mrs. Griswald because in the event of a robbery, Mrs. Griswald is required to lock herself in the bank's vault to protect the bank's holdings. Stephanie finally realizes that Clayface staged the crime scene with Det. Gage in order to distract them from the bank heist.
Stephanie reaches the entrance to the vault where she finds the supposed Mrs. Griswald. Steph calls out Clayface and Clayface reacts by firing an array of clay weapons or projectiles. Stephanie becomes overwhelmed by Clayface's determination as he suffocates her in a pillar of his clay form until Steph uses an explosive batarang that blasts the both of them out into the streets where Gage's task force is waiting. When the smoke clears, Stephanie awakes unharmed since Clayface's body absorbed the impact of the explosion but she also discovers that there is another version of herself. The task force doesn't know who to apprehend until one of the Batgirls orders Det. Gage to shoot the other Batgirl in order to prove who is real and the other Batgirl simply gave Gage the go ahead to fire at her. Gage soon realizes that only Clayface would ask him to shoot somebody. Clayface is exposed and Stephanie uses a batarang filled with liquid nitrogen to freeze Clayface. Clayface is sent back to Arkham Asylum while Det. Gage reveals the real reason why Clayface wanted to get inside the bank's vault. It seems Basil Karlo had a lock box in the vault which contained mementos from his film career but most importantly, a picture of his recently deceased wife.
In the DC universe sweeping event Flashpoint, Clayface (Basil Karlo) is a member of Deathstroke's Pirate Crew on the ship the Ravager. Clayface along with a group of other metahumans, were broken out of the prison island Saint Helena by Deathstroke in order to help him replenish his dwindling crew. He also notifies Deathstroke of the location of a metahuman named Sonar who has the ability to see beneath the ocean, and thus can be a major asset to the Ravager. After Aquaman and Ocean Master attack the Ravager, Clayface attempts to abandon ship but is subdued by Aquaman. Aquaman drags him deep below the ocean's surface and leaves him there to die.
For more information see: Batman: The Dark Knight: Knight Terrors
Karlo is one of several Arkham inmates injected with a mixture of Venom and Fear gas. The Venom makes them strong. The fear gas makes them fearless. The inmates break-out and try to take Gotham by storm, but the Batman shows up and stops most of them from escaping. Somehow Karlo escapes and gets several of his thugs together and disguised as the Joker, hopped up on Venom, Karlo takes over a commuter train. There Karlo, the hep of the White Rabbit kills a couple of his own crew before Batman shows up and proves it Karlo and not the Joker. Karol then beats Batman but its the Flash who arrives in time to help Batman stop Karlo.
Later Batman throws Karlo's unconscious body onto Detective Forbes's car to intimidate Forbes to stay out of his way.
The Court of Owls
For more information see : A Court of Owls
While Batman investigates Dan Matthews, a guard at Arkham Asylum who maybe on the take, Dan in a desperate attempt to get away, opens several of the inmates cells.Clayface is one of those inmates seen attacking the Batman before the Joker appears to come to Batman's aide and the pair work together to beat back the group of rampaging inmates. At one point Batman puts his boot straight through Karlo's midsection.
Death of the Family
For more information see: Death of the Family
While the Joker is running wild in Gotham, Batman is forced to deal with Poison Ivy and her new strong man and husband Clayface. While Batman tries to stop Ivy from blowing up Shandy Pharmaceuticals, Batman and Ivy are knocked unconscious by Ogilvy who then carries Ivy away. When Batman comes to, he is attacked by Clayface who is looking for Ivy, who he claims is his wife. He claims he and her were married in Las Vegas and have been causing a crime spree across the states.
Batman soon learns that this was all in Clayface's head and Ivy has been using him, using plants inside his dirt body. Batman is forced to retreat but when he confronts Clayface again he spays him with herbicide and napalm and get Ivy's plants out of him. When Clayface realizes he has been tricks he disappears into the sewers.
He later finds Ivy in a motel outside of Gotham and after she realizes he is no longer under her control, he attacks her.
For more information see: Forever Evil
After the Crime Syndicate of America breaks all of the Arkham Asylum Inmates out, they divide Gotham into territories. Although it is unclear what section Clayface gets, he is always present when The Arkham inmates battle Bane and his Blackgate army, who come into Gotham to take it over. Clayface is also one of the Inmates that is injected by Scarecrow's version of the Bane Venom.
Clayface has joined Batman's team of individuals to be trained as a Bat team or new Bat Family. He and the other recruits are part of Batman's initiative to protect Gotham together and not as a group of sidekicks. Rather than Basil Karlo's usual barbaric self he has decided to clean up his act and help clear the streets of Gotham. At first, the team is skeptical about Clayface joining the team. But as the series progresses they start to see that he truly is a broken man trying to fix his ways. He wears a bracelet that keeps him sane, but if he goes more than 12 hours without it, he will go insane. A doctor by the name of Victoria is trying to cure Basil from the Clay, but so far her attempts have been useless.
In order to fit the new continuity for DC Rebirth, Clayface was given a new origin and made considerably younger. The son of horror make-up artist Vincent Karlo (Who used Renu, a chemical made by Daggett Industries which could shape anything like malleable clay when mixed with putty and water), Basil Karlo was always told never to show anyone his "true monster" as no-one could ever love him then.
Years later, Karlo is a famous Hollywood actor who desperately wants a role in new horror film "Second Skin" as he desires to showcase his tragic-acting side to the world yet still have them love him for it. However, Karlo gets caught in a car-crash and is horribly disfigured. Karlo manages to use the last of his father's cream but soon runs out. Desperately wanting the role, Karlo sets out to get more Renu despite it not having been sold for years. Coming to Gotham, Karlo plans to raid Daggett industries and gain the Renu for himself. However, Karlo is caught by Batman who reveals that Clayface is disfigured and subsequently leads to Karlo's girlfriend Glory dumping him.
Batman attempts to get Karlo to turn "state witness" against Daggett industries but Karlo decides to steal the Renu from a police-warehouse instead. When he arrives, the police open fire which causes Basil to be doused in the vials and turn into Clayface. Wanting to exact revenge on the film-set for firing him, Karlo attacks it whilst killing many innocents. Batman eventually stops him but only after Karlo has acid thrown at his former girlfriend Glory.
All Clayfaces possess the ability to shapeshift and change the form of their bodies. This gives them the power to look like any person they chose as well create weapons out of their limbs to attack enemy and also melt. More recent powers added to Clayface's mantle is the ability to melt objects by just looking at them and also being able to pass on powers to ordinary humans.
Because of Clayface's body nearly all physical attacks are useless. Clayface can also use his body to smother victims until lifeless.
Upon large usage of his shape-shifting abilities he can get dizzy and even faint, this means he can't be in a form for too long.
Rather than looking like a humanoid made of clay, he resembles a large , gnarled man with melted skin. This Clayface worked with that world's Superman as an intelligence agent called Guy Gardner. He tricked a Nightwing agent named Jennifer Hayden into working with him, before killing her and taking her identity. Whilst Superman was on New Earth, he oversaw Earth-9.
When an escaped convict named Ferris hides out in an cave and dives into a strange pool of bioplasm to evade Batman and Robin, he finds he can shapeshift. After several botched encounters with Batman and Robin, the Dynamic Duo eventually are able to follow him back to the cave. Batman falls into the bioplasm and is able to confront Clayface on his own terms. After his defeat, he is jailed and the cave is destroyed. Much like Matt Hagen, his powers wear off.
Clayface later returned, after stealing "alien life fluid" from a professor named Dr. Zone. Ferris continues his heists. Batman and Robin eventually come up with the idea of using a freeze gun on him. Note that the conclusion to this story was not reprinted in Bat-Manga, so the conclusion is as of yet unknown.
Clayface appears as a member of the Legion of Doom. When the Legion is systematically taking out Justice League members, Clayface and Scarecrow are dispatched to take out Green Arrow and Black Canary. As Scarecrow takes out Canary with his fear gas, Clayface poses as Canary to kill Arrow, but Canary is able to overcome the gas and use her Canary Cry to defeat both. Later, in the Legion's super cities, Green Arrow and Black Canary confront Clayface again, but he is held off by the Elongated Man this time.
In season 2 of the live action series, many deceased criminals are brought back to life in Arkham Asylum's secret underground facility, Indian Hill. Many have been spliced with animal DNA. One of these test subjects has his DNA spliced with an octopod, which makes his skin pliable. He is not called Clayface, but his name is Basil, and he is able to impersonate someone via a helmet that steals the likenesses of people.
In the Justice League series Clayface appears to have been captured by Morgan Edge. Gorilla Grodd frees him to be a part of his
Secret Society. Clayface refuses to join at first but after persuasion from Grodd he joins. Clayface is later defeated by Flash and Hawkgirl.
In the series The Batman there are two Clayfaces Ethan Bennet and Basil Karlo. Ethan, a friend of Bruce Wayne’s is transformed into Clayface by the Joker and a mix of his laughing gas. Although a villain to begin with Ethan reforms and helps defeat Basil Karlo.
Basil Karlo is seen as a failing actor in this cartoon. He breaks into Got Corp and drinks a pigment of Ethan Bennet's clay matter, giving him Clayface’s abilities. Batman with the help of Ethan would defeat Basil.
Clayface would later return as a henchman of Lex Luthor, following Metallo's failure to kill Superman due to the intervention of Batman and Robin. He along with Black Mask kidnapped Lois Lane in order to lure Superman into a trap, where Black Mask shot Superman with a ray gun that mimicked red sunlight and Mr. Freeze froze him in hopes of suffocating the man of steel, but Superman managed to break free and Batman and Robin defeated Mr. Freeze and Black Mask. Later in the Gotham office of Lexcorp, Batman confronted Clayface and defeated him with ease using a chemical that rapidly dehydrated the villain, turning him into a pile of dust.
The Lego Batman Movie
Basil Karlo appears as one of the many villains working with Joker in order to take over Gotham City. He is voiced by Kate Micucci.
Clayface is a playable character in the villain campaign of LEGO Batman and LEGO Batman 2: DC Superheroes.
He appears in The Adventures of Batman and Robin and Batman:Rise of Sin Tzu as a boss battle.
He made a small cameo in Batman: Arkham Asylum where he tries to trick Batman into letting him out of his cell but morphing into different good characters (such as Commisioner Gordon and Warden Quincy Sharp) from the game.
He plays a vital role in Batman: Arkham City. While Joker is slowly dying of TITAN poisoning, Clayface impersonates him, trying to fool Batman into believe that he has been cured. After being defeated in his guise of the Joker, he reverts to his usual form. He is mentioned as not even meant to be in Arkham City. He falls into the Lazarus Pit at the end of the game, destroying it. In both of the Arkham games, he is able to be identified, as when one uses the Detective Mode, Clayface has no skeleton, no matter what form he takes.
He is also in DC Universe Online MMO. He appears mainly in the hero quests. He appears in Gotham under the disguise of one of Jokers henchmen. He also appears in Batmans mission to stop joker from attacking the SCU police base. after gaining the info he needed, Joker releases Clayface to distract the hero and make his escape.
A small easter egg in Batman Arkham Origins was shown, with a billboard for ''Basil Karlo's'' show.