Clayface is a name used by several DC Comics fictional character, most of them possessing clay-like bodies and shapeshifting abilities. All of them have been enemies of Batman. Created by Bob Kane, the original Clayface, Basil Karlo, was a B movie actor who began a life of crime using the identity of a villain he portrayed in a horror film.
In the late 1950s, Batman began facing a series of science fiction-inspired foes and Matt Hagen, a treasure hunter given vast shapeshifting powers and resiliency by radioactive protoplasm, became the new Clayface. He retained the title for the next several decades of comic book history. In the late '70s, Preston Payne became the third Clayface. A scientist suffering from hyperpituitarism, Payne used Hagen's blood to create a cure but became a clay-like creature that needed to pass his condition onto others to survive. His condition was used as a metaphor for drug abuse and sexually transmitted disease.
Sondra Fuller, of Strike Force Kobra, used the terrorist group's technology to become the fourth Clayface, also known as Lady Clay. She formed the Mud Pack with Karlo, Payne, and a reanimated Hagen, which during that time, Payne and Fuller had a son Cassius "Clay" Payne who also had metahuman clay powers. During this era, Karlo used the DNA of Payne and Fuller to become the most powerful Clayface, often considered the current and ultimate incarnation of the villain.
Clayface has appeared in three animated adaptations of Batman, starting with the late 1970s-era The New Adventures of Batman, which featured a comedic version of Hagen. The 1990s-era Batman: The Animated Series featured a past-his-prime actor disfigured in a car accident who uses an experimental, addictive cosmetic to regain his appearance only to became a monstrous hunk of clay after a massive overdose of the substance. This interpretation, like the series' Mr. Freeze, was applauded as a deeper, more sympathetic version of a sci-fi-era villain, and the comic book incarnation of the Basil Karlo Clayface was retooled after it. The 2000s-era The Batman featured a new character Ethan Bennett, who had ties to a young Bruce Wayne, as Clayface before introducing a version of Basil Karlo.
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