The third Clayface, Preston Payne, first appeared in Detective Comics #478. Suffering from hyperpituitarism, Payne works at S.T.A.R. Labs searching for a cure. He obtains a sample of the then-living Matthew Hagen's blood, and isolates an enzyme which he introduces into his own bloodstream. Although he is briefly able to shape his own appearance, this effect is short-lived: while on a date, his flesh begins to melt, and when he touches his horrified girlfriend, she completely melts. Payne builds an exoskeleton anti-melting suit to prevent himself from touching anyone, but he learns that he needs to spread his melting contagion onto others to survive (he feels pain if he doesn't melt anyone). During this time his mental health starts to slip, and he falls in love with a wax mannequin he names "Helena" (Batman Annual #11), thinking she is the only woman immune to his touch. Their relationship is troubled when he believes she specifically tries to cause conflict between him and Batman because she likes seeing men fight over her. Although he doesn't give her up, he is allowed to stay with her in Arkham Asylum, saying "we're both too polite to admit divorce, but she can't live forever".

During the events of the Mud Pack, Sondra Fuller, the fourth Clayface, began masquerading as the hero Looker and visited Preston at Arkham. That same night, he got into an argument with Helena and unintentionally knocked her head off. Believing he killed her, Preston went on a rampage until subdued in a nearby swamp by the asylum guards. Fuller rescued him, still using Looker's appearance and powers, and also used them to make Preston follow Basil Karlo's (the first Clayface's) commands. Karlo ultimately betrayed Fuller, and took samples of hers and Preston's blood to inject into himself. After finally breaking free of Fuller's control, he was about to kill her when she admitted how sorry she was for using him. The two fell in love and went on to live together, leading to Fuller becoming pregnant with their child, Cassius Payne (who would be taken away from birth, and later become the fifth Clayface).

Preston has acquired medicine to control his pain and now feels the "hunger" only in his mind. It has also been revealed that he was abused by his parents.

Recently, Preston became an unwilling pawn of Prometheus when the latter threatened his son Cassius. Experimented on by Prometheus, Preston's dormant shapeshifting ability apparently resurfaced. He was forced to pose as Prometheus while carrying a bomb within his body meant for the Justice League. It remains to be seen if he survived the subsequent explosion.

Powers and Abilities

Can reduce nearly anything to protoplasm with his bare touch

Strength level enhanced from exo-skeleton

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