Matt Hagen was the second criminal of Gotham City who adopted the alias of Clayface. Unlike Basil Karlo, the first criminal to use that name, Hagen adopted the Clayface identity after the molecular structure of his body was accidentally changed into clay, which allowed him to transform his body into anything he desired. Hagen was also different than Karlo in the fact that he was interested in stealing objects for personal gain, rather than murder people as part of a personal vendetta.
Matthew Hagen was a treasure hunter who found a mysterious pool of protoplasm in a cave. Immersing himself in it by accident, he was transformed into a malleable clay-like form, which could be shaped into almost anything he desired. This was only a temporary effect, however, requiring him to return to the pool periodically in order to maintain use of his powers. This weakness allowed Batman to capture and arrest Hagen. Shortly after, Hagen broke out of prison and decided to investigate the protoplasmic substance that transformed him into Clayface, in order to find a way to prolong his powers. In the meantime, Clayface impersonated wealthy men in Gotham City, which allowed him to learn information for his criminal activities. He was once again confronted by the Dynamic Duo and they managed to capture Clayface using a freezing gun combined with the protoplasmic substance, which they found on Clayface's hideout. Hagen was then returned to prison.
Life of Crime
Hagen escaped from prison a second time and he wasted no time to return to the secret pool in order to become Clayface. With his powers restored, Clayface started another succesful criminal spree in which he was also confronted by the Dynamic Duo. When the 48 hours passed, Hagen was forced to return to the pool, but this time he was closely followed by Batman and Robin, who learned the source of Hagen's powers. As Batman and Hagen struggled, they both fell into the pool and they both gained the powers of Clayface. Batman and Hagen resumed their fight on the outside, but this time they used their metamorphosis powers. Clayface tried to beat Batman, but in the end he was defeated and taken back to prison. Batman destroyed the pool, but Hagen had managed to take a sample of the protoplasm from the pool, which he planned to use the next time he escaped prison.
He eventually copied the pool's protoplasmic jelly by chemistry studies, although the artificial proptoplasm only allowed him five hours of Clayface powers compared to the full two days of the pool's. Clayface used his synthetic formula to start a new crime spree that would prove once and for all that he was superior than the Joker as the best criminal in town. The Joker/Clayface feud continued until Batman managed to capture both criminals and locked them in prison. Shortly after, Clayface escaped again and started a new crime spree. This time however he was confronted by Superman and Clayface adopted the kryptonian's appearance and powers, forcing Batman to use Kryptonite to capture Clayface. When the situation was under control, Hagen was returned to prison.
While in prison, Hagen was visited by Preston Payne, a desperate scientist who wanted to learn the properties of Hagen's chemical structure while transformed into Clayface in order to change his own hideous appearance. After taking a blood sample from Hagen, Payne was able to develop a serum, but the chemical caused his body to become a source of infection that was highly contagious while his skin was turned into a malleable mass. Subsequently, Payne adopted the alias of Clayface III.
Return and Last Crimes
Hagen escaped from prison and found another entrance to the mystic pool that gave him his powers. He discovered that in order to keep changing his shape, he had to jump into the pool every time and for this reason he developed a plan inside the cave. Clayface lured Lois Lane to his hideout, hoping to get Superman and all with the ultimate goal of luring Batman into a trap. His plan almost succeeded, but the heroes outsmarted him and returned him to prison. To prevent further problems, Superman evaporated the pool with his heat vision.
Hagen was ultimately killed by one of the Anti-Monitor's shadow demons during the Earth-shattering war known as the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Hagen was tuned into a small pile of dry clay and years later, it was recovered by Basil Karlo, the original Clayface, who tried to bring Hagen back to life to make him part of the Mud Pack, without success.
- Metamorphosis: Clayface could manipulate his physical features to make himself look like nearly anyone or anything. He could even alter his color. The only restriction appeared to be a limited volume of mass.
- Power Replication: Clayface could emulate the powers and abilities from anything he transformed into as well as the weaknesses of his targets.
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and should be considered apocryphal.
- 38 Appearances of Matthew Hagen (New Earth)
- 14 Images featuring Matthew Hagen (New Earth)
- Quotations by or about Matthew Hagen (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Matthew Hagen (New Earth)