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"The Mud Pack, Part One: Men of Clay":

The Curse of Clayface III

During a stormy night in Arkham Asylum, Preston Payne (also known as Clayface III),

Quote1.png How we, a victimized minority, can lay claim to the fame and fortune that is deservedly ours. - How we can acquire power beyond our wildest dreams! - How can we finally best the Caped Crusader, whose very existence each of us has a reason to hate... the cursed Dark Knight of Gotham City-- Batman! - And how can we kill him! Quote2.png
Basil Karlo

Detective Comics #604 is an issue of the series Detective Comics (Volume 1) with a cover date of September, 1989.

Synopsis for "The Mud Pack, Part One: Men of Clay"

The Curse of Clayface III

During a stormy night in Arkham Asylum, Preston Payne (also known as Clayface III), is having a discussion with Helena, the store window dummy that he believes is his lover. Payne is distressed about their "relationship" and he breaks up with her. The guards monitoring his cell have a laugh at his expense, but they become alarmed when Payne turns violent and rips the dummy's head off the body. The guards alert the orderlies, as the dummy was the only thing keeping Payne relatively calm and without it, things could go wrong. As a matter of fact, things go wrong as Payne has an emotional breakdown and uses his exo-suit's strength to punch his cell's door out of its hinges. Angry and devastated, Payne starts feeling the disease taking over him and he kills one of the orderlies to feel relief. In the meantime, Batman stops a group of thugs about to brutalize an innocent woman by beating them to a pulp until he notices the Bat-Signal in the sky. Batman drives the Batmobile after leaving the thugs to the police, but unknown to him, a mysterious man is close nearby at the moment. The man's face is hidden in the shadows created by his big hat and he also wears a long cape as he carries a strange looking sack with him.

The Terror

The man walks across the streets until he enters an abandoned movie theater as he recalls the days in which he was the best actor in terror movies and scorns the developments made in that genre over the most recent years. The man believes to be safe inside the abandoned movie theater, but a couple of thugs follow him inside and attack him to steal what they believe are valuable items inside the strange looking sack. Much to their surprise, the sack contains only a pile of dirt. Distracted because of their discovery, they don't notice the mysterious man pulling a dagger from his cloak until it's too late and they are both killed, a gruesome face covered in clay as the last thing they see.

Elsewhere, Batman is contacted by Commissioner Gordon, who gives Batman the details about Preston Payne's escape from Arkham. As Batman recalls his prior confrontations with Clayface III, the fugitive tries to avoid the several guards that are on his trail. Payne starts to feel dizzy as a result of the tranquilizer darts the guards shot at him on his escape and he collapses in a yard not far from Arkham, where he is found by the security guards shortly after. However, the guards are distracted when Looker shows up and uses her mind control powers to force the guards to shoot tranquilizer darts at each other. With the guards out of the way, Looker uses her telekinetic powers to carry Clayface III away from Arkham.

Meanwhile back at the abandoned theater, the mysterious man whose face is covered in clay reveals his intention of attempting to bring Matt Hagen, the second Clayface, back to life by experimenting with the pile of dirt, which is the only thing left of him after he was killed in the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Using water to melt the solid dirt, the man transforms the dirt into mud and shapes it as a small person, making a plea that would revive the deceased, but the small mud figure collapses without any apparent result.

Batman has arrived at Arkham and he starts searching for Clayface III by following the trail left behind by the man and the guards following him. He eventually finds the unconscious guards and after examining the scene, he deduces that Payne had collapsed and a woman took him away. Batman interrogates the security officer at Arkham, who informs him that Payne had a visitor earlier in the morning and after watching the security tapes, Batman is shocked to learn that Looker was the person who visited Payne. Batman leaves Arkham in order to analyze the clues, but his presence has already caused some excitement among the Arkham inmates.

Finally, Looker arrives at the abandoned theater, still carrying Payne, but she starts to feel weak and has to be assisted by the mysterious man inside. With her powers drained, the woman reveals her true identity as Lady Clay, who posed as Looker to take Payne out of Arkham. She and the mysterious man grab Payne and they take him to the main stage of the theater.

Basil Karlo, the Original Clayface

Lady Clay inquires about Clayface II, but the man replies that it was impossible to resurrect him and thus, they only have what's left of him. Nevertheless, the mysterious man decides it is enough to set their plan in motion. Having gathered Lady Clay, Preston Payne, and Matt Hagen, the mysterious man reveals himself as Basil Karlo, the original Clayface. Karlo has followed the criminal careers of all his successors and learning that none of them could defeat Batman individually, he has gathered them in order to form the ultimate clay team and finally eliminate the Dark Knight.

Appearing in "The Mud Pack, Part One: Men of Clay"

Featured Characters:

Supporting Characters:


Other Characters:

  • Cornelius Stirk (Cameo)
  • Killer Croc (On a TV or computer screen) (Cameo)
  • The Joker (On a TV or computer screen) (Cameo)
  • Poison Ivy (On a TV or computer screen) (Cameo)
  • Helena (Destroyed)
  • Joe #1 (Single appearance)
  • Joe #2 (Single appearance)
  • Bix (Only appearance; dies)
  • Ray (Single appearance)






  • Arkham Asylum uses Sony security cameras.

See Also

Recommended Reading

Links and References