This is my third, of five, week celebrating Batman's 75th anniversary by highlighting some of his lesser known villains. Today we have two of my favorites, hope you enjoy. You can check out these Batman posts, and many other exciting pop culture news at The Time Warriors
Clayface1 – Basil Karlo
First Appearance – Detective Comics #40 (June 1940)
Created by – Bob Kane
Basil Karlo was a famous character actor, specializing in horror roles (he was inspired by Basil Rathborne and Boris Karloff, two real world actors famous for their horror movies). Basil, slightly past his prime acting wise, is replaced in a remake of one of his most famous roles. This enrages him to the point where he dons the mask the killer of the movie wears, as Clayface, and kills the various workers associated with the movie. He left the actor that replaced him for last, however Batman and Robin thwart him.
He escapes his prison transport and continues his criminal ways only to be easily thwarted again by the Dynamic Duo.
At this point in time, he's been in jail for a number of years, and other criminals have taken up the Clayface mantle. These villains, for the most part, have the shapeshifting abilities and mud appearance that are most commonly associated with the name Clayface. While in jail, Basil is visited by the fourth in Clayface line, Sondra Fuller a.k.a. Lady Clay. During this visit, Basil convinces Sondra to not only break him out of prison, but to form an alliance with all the living Clayfaces and to resurrect the second Clayface.
The newly formed Mud Pack take on Batman and the Outsiders. Their initial appearance results in a swift defeat, however during which Basil injects samples of Clayfaces III and IV to gain both of their powers and become what he calls “Ultimate Clayface”.
Over the years Clayface has not only changed identities, but also personas, powers, mental capacity, background, and everything else that identifies as the villain; the one thing that remains is the threat he poses to Batman and the whole Bat-family.
Personal Favorite Moment:
The Batman cartoon of the 90's had a great two part episode that told the origin of Clayface. This combined elements of Basil Karlo and the second Clayface, Matt Hagen. It was an amazing story, that is a great example of how the show, especially for a kid's cartoon, had superb character development.
However, my favorite Clayface moment would have to be a more recent appearance of his. In DC's New 52 Clayface is once again Basil Karlo and he now has the ability to absorb a person's DNA in order to replicate their appearance.
Attempting to frame Bruce Wayne for several murders, Basil breaks into Wayne Tower disguised as Bruce Wayne himself. He's met by Batman, who alerts Basil that the cops are on the way. After a brief battle, Commissioner Gordon and several officers arrive on the scene, and Basil decides to reveal the identity of Batman by absorbing his DNA. He does so and reveals that Batman is none other than Bruce Wayne
Unconvinced because Batman is still masked the cops take no action. Taking advantage of the distraction, Batman and Lucius Fox trap Clayface in an enclosure only Basil Karlo's original DNA can unlock. Unfortunately, Clayface has become so entwined with the different people he absorbed, he no longer has enough of his own DNA to escape.
Why is this my favorite moment, you ask? How does Batman explain Clayface absorbing Bruce Wayne's DNA from him? A fake layer of skin with Bruce Wayne's DNA coded on it. I love Batman, but this is an example of him 'always being prepared' that makes it a little ridiculous to accept.
Firefly1 – Garfield Lynns
First appearance – Detective Comics #184 (June 1952)
Created by – France Herron and Dick Sprang
Firefly is another villain whose mantle has been used by multiple people. Garfield Lynns, the first and more popular of the two, was a special effects expert, and burgeoning pyromaniac. He beings his criminal career (post-Crisis) as a would be robber, however after being stopped by Batman and Robin, he decides to alter paths and becomes an arsonist.
After several schemes, mostly failures, he takes his pyromaniac obsession to new heights by donning a flame resistant suit with jetpack. He then becomes an arsonist for hire, usually burning down businesses for the insurance money.
Personal Favorite Moment:
My favorite moment, isn't one moment per-se. The depiction of Firefly in “The Batman” cartoon from the mid-2000's depicted Garfield as a corporate saboteur that challenged Batman in ways I never saw him do in the other versions of the character. And the noise he made when flying around was pretty sweet. (on another note: I recommend watching said Batman cartoon for unique versions of all of the characters, a cartoon done well.)