"Captive Audience": Imprisoned at Arkham Asylum, Clayface is surprised to find himself in a cell next to a fan of his acting work - prior to his transformation. For the first time in a long time, he feels the thrill of performing for an audience, saying
- I won't be ignored anymore! I won't be contained! You'll all learn! All of you! You'll learn how special I am! And you'll be sorry.
- — Clayface
Synopsis for "Captive Audience"
Imprisoned at Arkham Asylum, Clayface is surprised to find himself in a cell next to a fan of his acting work - prior to his transformation. For the first time in a long time, he feels the thrill of performing for an audience, saying his lines as he once did. Meanwhile, some Arkham guards begin to transfer the Scarecrow to another cell, and they muse that at least all this performance is keeping Clayface busy. As the Scarecrow passes by Clayface's cell, he is wearing a mirror over his mask, and that mirror reflects Clayface's image back at him. He is taken aback by the reflection, though, as it seems to reflect him as he once was, as a boy.
He had been ordinary; the kind of person who went unnoticed.To him, that was a kind of death. He was never even given the attention that a geek gets from bullies. He had tried to learn what it is about other people that makes them stand out. He had hoped that adopting the clothing of the cool kids who wore sunglasses and leather jackets might garner him some attention, and his mother had kindly set aside some money for him to get some for himself. Unfortunately, he only had enough for a jacket, and so her shoplifted a pair of sunglasses to match. The next day, he wore them both to school, and found himself just as ignored as before. Crushed, he returned the sunglasses to the store along with a note of apology. His mother had assured him that all he needed to do was be himself. He wondered, though, if that was good enough.
He had heard that acting would get him some attention, and so he tried out for the school production of Pygmalion. Unfortunately, he was too nervous, and the director cut him off, explaining that there was nothing special about him. He determined that he would prove he was worth it, and continued auditioning for years without any success. Finally, a casting director warned that he would never make it. He had nothing that would garner him a leading role or a role as a character actor. Unhappily, Basil turned to a man he had heard of whom, it was said, could get one anything. That man was The Penguin, and he offered Basil a hunk of clay which he claimed was the source of power for a tribe of Navajo skinwalkers; shape-changers. Cobblepot demanded no money in exchange - only service.
Basil took the clay home and even as he examined it, the substance leapt up and into his body, entering his blood-stream, and rewriting the fabric of his body. He found that he could make his face mirror the world around him, with practice. So, he practised. He practised until he was ready to audition again. When they saw the elastic versatility of his face, they hired him on the spot. In his many acting roles that followed, he didn't just act, he became his characters - and finally people noticed him. As he got better, 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. He could disguise himself with ease.
It wasn't long, though, before The Penguin returned, hoping to make use of those skills - and Basil owed him. At first, he hated the work he was made to do, but he grew accustomed to killing. And with every transformation, it was as though he lost sight of who he really was, until he was nothing more than a mass of violence and rage. The more he lost control of his anger, the harder it was to hold his shape. Before long, he lost everything. He couldn't work for long periods anymore, and nobody wanted to work with a diva. He was nobody again; no good to anyone. No good for anything except crime.
Now, he feels the way he did back then - like no one cared he existed anymore. At least, he had, until he met his neighbour. One day, though, he realizes that his neighbour has collapsed inn his cell, and desperately calls for help. Unfortunately, the man is already dead. He grieved for two days until he realized that he was still an actor. He began feigning choking on his food, and his doctors began trying to help him, reaching through the containment tube. In the process, they fail to notice a small piece of clay that oozes out through the narrow space. Soon, he'll be free again, and the world will see how special he is again.
Appearing in "Captive Audience"
- Mogsy (Dies)
- Jeremiah Arkham
- Batman does not appear in this issue.