The second Clayface, Matt Hagen, first appeared in Detective Comics #298. A treasure hunter, Hagen finds a mysterious radioactive pool of protoplasm in a cave. Immersing himself in it, he is transformed into a malleable clay-like form which could be shaped into almost anything he desires. Hagen soon gleefully begins using his newfound powers for crime. His powers, however, prove only to have a temporary effect, requiring him to return to the pool periodically in order to maintain use of his powers. This power lasts 48 hours, after which time Batman succeeds in capturing him and sends him off to prison.
Hagen appears again, in Detective Comics #304, June 1962, posing as "John Royce", a member of an exclusive club to commit robberies due to idle gossip gleaned from conversations with other members. Batman, uncovering the plot, eventually freezes the villain into suspended animation after a brief battle.
One year later, Batman trails Hagen to his cave, where Hagen receives his powers, receiving the powers himself, and overcomes the villain, who'd planned to steal some art treasures. Batman seals off the cave, but the crafty Hagen had managed to stash some of the protoplasm away.
He eventually copies the pool's protoplasmic jelly by chemistry studies, although the artificial proptoplasm only allows him five hours of Clayface powers compared to the full two days of the pool's.
Hagen returns as Clayface in Batman #159, engaging in an insane feud with the Joker, each proving that they can easily adapt to the 'oafish' methods of each other, but both villains are beaten by the team of Batman, Robin, Batwoman, and Batgirl.
Clayface escapes from prison and clashes with Batman, Robin, and Superman in World's Finest #140, when he takes on Superman's form and somehow, his powers, until the heroes expose him to some Red Kryptonite, which, weakens Hagen enough to facilitate his capture.
Seeking revenge on Superman, Hagen escapes prison in a jailbreak and joins forces with Brainiac in World's Finest #144, Sept 1964, but both villains again meet defeat.
Hagen is eventually given a blood transfusion by Preston Payne, who uses this sample from Hagen's body to become Clayface himself in Detective Comics #478, 1978.
After first appearing with a group of villains in a battle with the Justice League in Action Comics # 443, Clayface II became a member of the Secret Society of Super-Villains. He was in the original version of The Society (seen in AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS # 11) but was excised when the story was rewritten.
Possibly as a result of his blood transfusion in Detective Comics # 478, Hagen was forced to immerse himself in the mystic pool each time he made a transformation (World's Finest # 264), a rather severe limitation that he'd overcome by the next time he appeared.
Hagen appears next in Detective Comics #526. Hagen, along with fellow villains Killer Moth, Two-Face, and Gentleman Ghost are part of a complex triple-cross scheme concocted by the Joker to use the villains to kill Batman before Killer Croc, who has sworn to kill Batman in twenty-four hours, can do the deed. Sneaking into an abandoned warehouse where the villains planned to eliminate the Dark Knight and Croc, Clayface impersonates gang boss Tony Falco with his abilities to distract Croc's gang while Killer Moth gunned them down. Hagen and the other villains were subsequently defeated and captured by Robin and Batgirl.
In Crisis On Infinite Earths #12, 1986, Hagen is ultimately killed, along with the original Bug Eyed Bandit, by Shadow Demons. The other villains who use the name Clayface gather Hagen's remains and launch an attempt to revive Hagen. The group of Clayfaces (including Payne, Karlo, and "Lady Clay") dubbed the Mud Pack, ends in failure, and Secret Origins #44, 1990, brings Hagen's tale full circle, by revealing his origin.
Hagen briefly resurfaced in HAWK AND DOVE ANNUAL # 1, shown among other deceased villains.
Powers and Abilities
- Bio-Fission: He can replicate his own cellular structure, creating a perfect duplicate of himself.
- Metamorphosis, Malleability, Plasticity, Elongation: Clayface can manipulate his physical features to make himself look like nearly anyone or anything. He can even alter his color. The only restriction appears to be a limited volume of mass.
- Voice-shifting: As well as changing his appearance, he is able to change his voice to mimic almost any individual.
- Natural Weaponry: Hagen is able to turn his arms into weapons such as axes, swords, hammers, etc.
- Flight: Depending on his form, he may be able to fly. In his first clash with Batman, Hagen turned into a giant eagle to escape.
Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985-86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and should be considered apocryphal.
In other media
Batman 1960's TV series
Clayface's first appearance outside the comics was a brief animated cameo in the opening credits of the Batman 1960's TV series, but oddly, the villain was never actually in the show himself. This could be due to limited special effects at the time unable to make Clayface's shape-changing abilities come to life.
Batman: The Animated Series
The New Adventures of Batman
Clayface appeared in several episodes of Filmation's The New Adventures of Batman in the late 1970s. This show featured the Matt Hagen version of Clayface, and according to his first appearance he must drink his special potion daily to keep his Clayface powers. In this show, he often uses his powers to take on the forms of animals.
In Clayface's first episode, Clayface is shown to be able to survive in water without dissolving (unlike later animated incarnations) by turning into a dolphin, but as Matt Hagen he does not know how to swim. His second episode pairs him up with Catwoman in a plot to steal oil. He is also one of the four villains featured in the two-part "Have An Evil Day", in which the alien Zarbor cons him, The Joker, Catwoman, and The Penguin into teaming up against Batman and Robin as a diversion while Zarbor steals Earth's nuclear plants. In this series, Clayface was voiced by Lou Scheimer and Lennie Weinrib.
In Young Justice, Clayface is seen at the beginning of the episode "Downtime", where he overpowers the entire team and is about to kill Aqualad until Batman intervenes and quickly subdues him with a taser. This was later revealed to be the Matt Hagen version in the spin-off comic series. He is portrayed as a member of the League of Shadows who tries to seduce Talia al Ghul in order to use a Lazarus Pit to cure his cancer. Upon realizing she was being used Talia allowed Hagen to use a Lazarus Pit, but locked him inside for several months, causing him to become the villain Clayface.
The Matt Hagen version of Clayface appears in the Nintendo D.S. version of LEGO Batman: The Videogame. Upon his escape from Arkham Asylum, Clayface joins forces with The Riddler, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, and Two-Face to rob Gotham Bullion Fortress of its contents. The Riddler assigns him with the task of stealing the key to the main vault from the Bank of Gotham, which he is able to accomplish. The Dynamic Duo easily defeat Clayface, but, as Batman chases after the Riddler, Clayface trips him, thereby allowing the Prince Of Puzzlers to get away. Clayface was last seen in his cell at Arkham, making clay pottery, ironically enough. Unlike most versions of the character, this version of Clayface seems extremely dim-witted, not paying attention to the Riddler's plan until gold is mentioned and being easily distracted by it.