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Quote1 It wasn't always like this. Back before I was Clayface. Back when I was Basil Karlo, I was on my way to the top. Red carpet movie premieres, million-dollar mansions, fast cars, beautiful women. And that was just the start. I had big plans. I had ambition. I also had a temper. When people pissed me off, when people insulted me, people got hurt. That ain't ever changed. I don't figure it's ever gonna. My entire career went down the drain after I hit that director. They took my life away, so I became Clayface to get revenge. Still had the big plans. Still had the ambition. And more than anything else - I still had that temper. Quote2
-- Clayface src

Basil Karlo is Clayface, a former criminal in Gotham City with the power to change his clay-body to become anyone or anything. He formerly acted as an enemy of Batman but now works alongside him as one of his allies.

Origin

Basil Karlo, before becoming the monster he would be famous for being, worked as a mediocre actor who was once told by his casting director that he wasn't good enough to get a substantial role. Looking for an edge, Karlo turned to the crime boss Penguin for help. The Penguin offered Basil a hunk of mystical clay, which he claimed would solve Karlo's acting problems, in exchange for the actor's services as a henchman. Basil agreed and was given his unique powers when the clay leaped on him, entered his blood-stream, and rewrote the fabric of his body.

Karlo before Clayface

Karlo before Clayface

With this shape-changing ability, Karlo was able to achieve success in his acting career. As he got better in his acting, the clay inside him evolved as well. He gained the new ability to copy the DNA of anyone he touched and file it away in his memory, to be retrieved at any time. Outside of his acting, Karlo was employed by The Penguin, keeping to their deal, and initially loathed the criminal activities he was forced to do. However, he eventually grew to embrace it overtime. The actor lost sight of who he really was until he became nothing more than a mass of violence and rage; it became harder to hold his human shape. Before long, Karlo's temper destroyed his career after he assaulted a director who berated him for ad-libbing on set. With no one willing to hire him and thus becoming a "nobody," Karlo became fully committed to a life of crime as "Clayface".[2][3]

Early Crimes

During Batman's second year as a vigilante, the Joker and the Riddler went to war with one another over the right to kill Batman in what would be known as "the War of Jokes and Riddles". Both villains recruited all the criminals they could, and Clayface decided to join the Riddler's army. For weeks the fighting raged on until Riddler's army, with the aid of Batman himself, successfully cornered Joker. Clayface and the rest of Riddler's army was then double-crossed by Batman, who had them all incapacitated and arrested. [4]

Nowhere Man

Batman vs. "Bruce Wayne"

Batman vs. "Bruce Wayne"

In wake of Damian Wayne's death, Clayface imitated Bruce Wayne, having mutated to the point that, with a single fiber of DNA, the criminal could impersonate anyone down to their genetic code. [5] Wanting to exploit Wayne's connection to Batman Incorporated, Clayface framed Wayne for robbing a bank and then, later, made an attempt on his life at Wayne Enterprises, only to be subdued by Batman in a specifically anti-Clayface batsuit. Trapping the impostor in a glass container that would only open to the DNA code of the one person he couldn't be anymore - Basil Karlo, Batman left Clayface to the police. [6]

Arkham War

On the night that the Crime Syndicate arrived to Earth and announced that the Justice League was dead, Clayface was about to rob a bank with a group of ordinary thugs but lashed out and killed them all because they wouldn't listen to him.

Discovering that the Syndicate's Secret Society was recruiting, Clayface destroyed what he thought was a rebel camp in order to get the Society's attention. To his surprise, the rebel camp was organized by the Society in order to trap would-be heroes; Clayface ruined their plan. Calling him an idiot, Karlo lashed out and blew up the remaining portion of the camp. [3]

With no Batman to stop them, the freaks of Arkham Asylum carved up Gotham City and agreed to split it amongst themselves. Clayface was given a portion of the city that he marked as his own by drowning in clay. However, the peace between the villains was not kept very long when Bane recruited the prisoners of Blackgate Penitentiary to challenge the Arkhamites, under Scarecrow's leadership, for control of Gotham, in what would later be called the "Arkham War". [7]

During the course of the war, Clayface and Mister Freeze attempted to recruit the Rogues, who had been misplaced in Gotham in their rebellion against the Syndicate. However, the Rogues denied their invitation, spurring a three-way battle between the Arkhamites, the Rogues, and Black Mask's False Face Society. [8]

In the end, the Arkhamites were defeated by Bane, who declared himself the winner of the Arkham War. [9]

The Unknowns

Clayface, hero

Clayface, hero

After the Justice League's return and the fall of the Crime Syndicate, Clayface attempted to escape Gotham as repairs began underway. As he tried to leave, Karlo was abducted by a group of cultists, freezing him and then using a portion of his magical clay body as part of their ritual to revive Morgaine le Fey. [10] Succeeding in bringing back the witch from the dead, Clayface was left partially destroyed and without his memory. Luckily, he was rescued by Ragman, being brought back to the hero's apartment and plopped into his bathtub. [11] After learning of his criminal past, a still amnesia-stricken Clayface joined Batwoman and her ragtag team of Unknowns in their fight against Morgaine Le Fey.

Despite their efforts though, their mission failed, since Le Fey had successfully used a satellite to project her magic into turning Gotham into a medieval version of itself called New Camelot. Not giving up, Clayface and the Unknowns made one final move against the enchantress, successfully trapping her inside a magic stone and breaking the spell, returning Gotham to its normal twenty-first century version.

Wanting to avoid going back to crime, Clayface, accompanied by his new friend Ragman, tried to set Karlo up with a new civilian identity. [12]

Endgame

Clayface during Joker's endgame

Clayface during Joker's endgame

However, his work as a hero was short lived. His memory returned, and Clayface was returned to his cell at the new Arkham Manor. When Joker returned to Gotham with an endgame for Batman in mind, every criminal in the asylum was freed and poisoned with Joker Venom. Only Clayface and a handful of other criminals who had already gained an immunity to chemicals escaped the asylum un-Jokerized, having realized the clown had gone too far with this latest plan. [13] Escaping into the city, having plunged into chaos, Clayface and the other Arkhamites met up with Batman and agreed to help him take down the Joker. [14]

With Batman and the Joker apparently killed in their last battle with one another, life went on, and Clayface continued his criminal ambitions. Karlo sent his daughter Katherine to Gotham Academy to spy on his old acting-rival-now-teacher Simon Trent so he could get his revenge on him for stealing his roles and his wife. [15] Before Clayface could make his final move on Trent, he was stopped by the students of Gotham Academy, forcing Karlo to flee.

DC Rebirth

Tired of his life as a criminal, Clayface finally decided to turn over a new leaf and made an effort to work as a hero in Gotham. Batman, respecting Karlo's choice to better himself, recruited Clayface to train under him along with some other budding vigilantes.

Roy Harper Cry for Justice
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Powers

  • Malleable Clay-Like Body: Clayface's body is made of of thick, mud-like material. He can change shape at will into a variety of forms.[16] He can even take the shape of animals.[8]
  • Size Alteration: Clayface can change his size to fill any need. He's expanded large enough to engulf rooms or thin enough to slip into sewers.[16]
  • Density Control: Clayface can make his body as hard as rock in order to smash through cars or doors, but can also maintain a liquid form to suffocate opponents.[16]
  • Superhuman Strength: When Clayface's mass is increased so is his strength. The bigger he gets, the more dangerous he becomes.[16]
  • Superhuman Durability: When shifting the density of his body Clayface can withstand bullets and heavy impacts.
  • Power Replication: Clayface can mimic someone's body right down to their DNA, copying their abilities.[8]
  • Corrosive Touch: Aside from mimicking someone, Clayface's touch can kill and absorb people the moment he gets them in his grip.

Abilities

  • The last film Basil starred in the critically acclaimed film Metamorphosis before his accident.

Related


Footnotes


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Batman Family member
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This character is or was an incarnation of or an ally of Batman, and a member of the Batman Family. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the "Batman Family members" category.

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Batman Villain(s)
This character, team or organization, is or was primarily an enemy of the Batman, or the Batman Family as a whole. This template will categorize articles that include it into the category "Batman Villains."