- Your power is useless. I am a force of nature unto myself.
- -- Clayface src
Origin and Early History
Basil Karlo was an actor who was driven mad when he learned of a remake of his classic horror film The Terror, even though he was to be one of the advising staff. Donning the costume of the film's villain he once played, Clayface, he embarked on a murder spree among the cast of the remake. 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 was foiled by Batman and Robin. He reappeared after the prison ambulance he was riding in plunged off a cliff. He once again donned the mask of Clayface and targeted Bruce Wayne's fiancee, Julie Madison. Once again, the Dynamic Duo foiled the evil Karlo.
Much later, Karlo languished in a prison hospital, when the current Clayface, Sondra Fuller visited him out of curiosity. Karlo proposed an alliance between all living Clayfaces to kill Batman. Even though the Mud Pack, as the group called itself, was defeated, Karlo managed, by tricking his allies, to imbue 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. He was defeated by the combined efforts of Batman and Looker of the Outsiders, by overloading his abilities, making him melt into the ground. Sinking into the earth's crust when he lost control of his power, he managed to survive, and now his body sports crystals similar to quartz that endow him with greater powers. Karlo was able to escape his underground prison when Gotham City was struck by the great Cataclysm. He was able to capture Batman and was about to kill him, but he got into a feud with Mr. Freeze about who should kill the Caped Crusader. With that distraction, Batman soundly defeated both of them.
Some time later, Karlo held Poison Ivy, who was in charge of producing fresh vegetables for the remaining people in the city, prisoner in Robinson Park. Poison Ivy eventually battled and defeated Karlo, sinking him deep into the ground. It appears that the Ultimate Clayface was destroyed in this battle, but he resurfaced as a member of the Secret Society of Super Villains. Later, he sought to increase his already formidable powers by absorbing Wonder Woman (a clay construct similar to him), giving him an amount of power that bordered on invulnerability. While he was 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 was among the members of the Injustice League and was among the villains that were exiled to the planet Salvation by Checkmate. He and others eventually retured to Earth and became a member of Libra's Secret Society of Super Villains. In this capacity, Karlo triggered 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.
- Malleable Clay-like Body: Being chemically altered gave him the ability to regenerate his body mass, change his shape, size, density and shape-shift into any form he could think of.
- Basil Karlo was introduced during the Golden Age era of publication, which set Earth-Two as the universe in which the Golden Age characters and stories took place. However, his origin and early history remained unchanged until the Modern Age of comics after the Crisis on Infinite Earths. For this reason, it is safe to assume that the Clayface featured in the original Golden Age stories is the same character as the Modern Age Clayface.
- The character is a pastiche of famed horror actor Boris Karloff. The name 'Basil Karlo' comes from Karloff and actor Basil Rathbone.
- Basil Karlo is also known as The Ultimate Clayface and Clay Thing.
- Basil Karlo used to use a "clayface mask" to terrify people during his crimes. He discarded the mask after gaining his unique physiology.
- 64 Appearances of Basil Karlo (New Earth)
- 37 Images featuring Basil Karlo (New Earth)
- 5 Quotations by or about Basil Karlo (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Basil Karlo (New Earth)
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