Looking for a different version of this character?
|As a result of the New 52 in 2011, the entire line of DC characters was relaunched, incorporating properties belonging to the company's imprints: Wildstorm, Milestone, and Vertigo. As such, elements of this character's history have been altered in some way from the previous incarnation. For a complete list of all versions of this character, see our disambiguation page.|
- 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.
- — Clayface src
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 unique shape-shifting powers when the clay leapt on him, entered his blood-stream, and rewrote the fabric of his body.
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".
During a battle with Mister Mxyzptlk, the Superman of the pre-flashpoint universe merged his timeline and the post-flashpoint universe's timeline together. Because of this the very fabric of reality was altered as the two universe's histories began to merge into one. This merged Clayface with the pre-flashpoint version of himself, eradicating or changing a lot of his history. As a result of the change, Clayface's origin was now mostly different.
Basil Karlo was the son of Vincent Karlo, who made cosmetics and masks for movies. Vincent told Basil that the secret to his success was a strange putty known as Renu, when applied to a surface Renu would allow the sculptor to mold that material into any look they wanted. Vincent was eventually fired by his production company because they discovered that Renu was toxic to human flesh and could potentially cause illnesses.
Basil grew up and became an actor twenty years later. He quickly became incredibly successful due to his talent and good looks. On the set of his film Metamorphosis he met Glory Griffin who would be his P.A. for the film. When the film was complete, Basil received huge critical acclaim and planned to move onto a film called Second Skin, as it reminded him of his father's old job. After Metamorphosis, Glory became Basil's personal assistant for all his films. He soon had an interview with the casting director of a Second Skin, and received the main part.
When he was driving back to his apartment, Basil received a phone call informing him that his father had been found dead. The shock of this news caused Basil to crash his car, disfiguring him. In a desperate bid to salvage his career, he began abusing Renu to preserve his handsome appearance. When his supply began to run low, Karlo intended to steal a bulk supply of the chemical from the manufacturing plant in Gotham City, only to be apprehended by Batman. Brought to the hospital to recover, Karlo's grotesque appearance was subsequently revealed to the world in news reports of the incident. His career was ruined, and his girlfriend Glory dumped him. While in the hospital, Karlo was visited by Batman, who told him he had a choice to make in who he wanted to be.
Karlo chose poorly and attempted to break into the warehouse where the police were holding his stolen stash of Renu. When police opened fire on the vials, Karlo was doused in the chemical, changing his entire body and turning him into the monstrous Clayface. He then attacked the set of the film he was fired from but was stopped by Batman.
The War of Jokes and Riddles
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.
Death of the Family
While the Joker was running wild in Gotham, Batman was forced to deal with Poison Ivy and her new strong man and husband Clayface.
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. 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.
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.
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".
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.
In the end, the Arkhamites were defeated by Bane, who declared himself the winner of the Arkham War.
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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
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. Before Clayface could make his final move on Trent, he was stopped by the students of Gotham Academy, forcing Karlo to flee.
After breaking out of Arkham to see the re-release of the last film he appeared in before his transformation into Clayface, "The Metamorphosis", Karlo was come upon by Batman and Batwoman. Batman offered Clayface the opportunity to join a team he was assembling, as Batman believed that Karlo could truly make a change in his life if only given the opportunity. Tired of his life as a criminal, Clayface took Batman's offer and joined the team, along with several other vigilantes.
Clayface, along with the rest of the team, were called in by Batman to evacuate neighborhoods at risk of flooding during an intense hurricane. Clayface split himself into the form of hundreds of police officers to front the evacuation.
During Hugo Strange's attack on Batman and Gotham City, Karlo split himself even further in order to evacuate not just the at risk neighborhoods, but the entire city.
Fall of the Batman
After being infected by the Monster Men serum, Karlo turned into a raging monster and destroyed Gotham City. As the Gotham Knights tried to subdue him, Colonel Kane gave his daughter Batwoman a bullet containing a chemical capable of dissolving Clayface once and for all. When their attempts to stop him were in vain, Kate takes the kill-shot and apparently kills Clayface. This action leads to a rift in the team and they eventually disbands. However, it is later revealed that he actually survived, and is now powerless. Wanting to be left alone he keeps this a secret and goes into hiding. The only person aware that he survived is Dr. October who figured out that it would cure him.
- Hand-to-Hand Combat (Basic): As part of his training with the Gotham Knights, Clayface has learned how to fight instead of just relying on his powers.
- Clayface was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, first appearing in Detective Comics #40. However, in the Prime Earth continuity Clayface first appeared as part of the New 52 DC Universe in Batman (Volume 2) #1 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo.
- The last film Basil starred in before his accident was the critically acclaimed Metamorphosis.
- 156 Appearances of Basil Karlo (Prime Earth)
- 44 Images featuring Basil Karlo (Prime Earth)
- 6 Quotations by or about Basil Karlo (Prime Earth)
- Character Gallery: Basil Karlo (Prime Earth)
- ↑ Detective Comics #936
- ↑ Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 2) #24
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Batman: The Dark Knight (Volume 2) #23.3: Clayface
- ↑ Superman: Reborn
- ↑ Detective Comics Annual #2018
- ↑ Batman (Volume 3) #31
- ↑ Batman (Volume 2) #19
- ↑ Batman (Volume 2) #20
- ↑ Forever Evil: Arkham War #1
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion #4
- ↑ Forever Evil: Arkham War #6
- ↑ Batwoman (Volume 2) #37
- ↑ Batwoman (Volume 2) #38
- ↑ Batwoman Annual (Volume 2) #2
- ↑ Arkham Manor: Endgame #1
- ↑ Batman (Volume 2) #39
- ↑ Gotham Academy #11
- ↑ 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Justice League of America (Volume 3) #11
- ↑ 19.0 19.1 Detective Comics #952
|Batman Family member |
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.
Secret Society of Super-Villains member
|GCPD Officer |
This character is or was an officer of, or held a title in the Gotham City Police Department, in any of its various incarnations. This template will automatically categorize articles that include it into the "GCPD members" and "Police Officers" categories.