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Detective Comics #40 saw the publication of "The Murders of Clayface". The story sees Batman and Robin investigating a serial killer targeting a film's production, starring Bruce Wayne's fiancé Julie Madison. The story notably introduced Basil Karlo and the Clayface identity, though he lacked the traditional superpowers associated with the character. The story was written by Bill Finger, and presumably drawn by Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson.

"The Murders of Clayface"

Synopsis

Bruce Wayne visits his fiancé Julie Madison as performs in a film titled Dread Castle, a remake of a horror film. Whilst there, he meets many of her co-stars and the production staff. Bruce also meets Basil Karlo, a disgruntled actor who played "the Terror" role in the original picture, and Ned Norton, the recently fired director of the new picture. He also witnesses the breakup of Julie's costar Lorna Dane and Fred Walker. As he leaves, studio head Bentley is confronted by a gangster name Roxy Brenner, who threatens the production after he refuses to pay protection money. The atmosphere gives Bruce suspicions that something terrible will happen during production.

A few days later, filming is underway. Whilst shooting the death scene of Dane's character, the lights go off and the actress is found murdered when they are turned back on. With her murder unsolved by the police, Batman and Robin decide to investigate themselves. Breaking into the studios, they discover Brenner and his men trying to intimidate Bentley, claiming responsibility for the murder. Making their presence known, Batman and Robin subdue the group and interrogate the mobster, who reveals he was innocent and was trying to take advantage of the murder to get his "protection" payment.

To narrow down suspects, Batman decides to go after Walker, believing his breakup serves as a potential motive. He leaves Robin on the set to keep an eye on it. Arriving at Walker's home, Batman finds him dying of injuries inflicted by an attacker. Before he dies, Walker reveals the murderer to be "Clayface". Meanwhile, Robin notices a light in the abandoned set and investigates. As he arrives, he is ambushed by Clayface and is knocked unconscious. To rid himself of the Boy Wonder, the murderer throws him into the set's moat. Batman arrives in time to rescue Robin from drowning, though Clayface escapes the scene unnoticed.

The following morning, Clayface returns to the scene, planning to murder Julie. As he prepares to execute his plan from the catwalks above the set, he is ambushed by Batman. Engaging in a fight, Clayface attempts to flee the scene, but is stopped by Robin and ensnared by Batman's Silken Cord. Removing the makeup, they discover that he is actually Karlo.

Batman reveals that Karlo has lost his sanity playing many villain roles and held resentment towards the remake due to him not being able to reprise the role of "the Terror". Having taken the "Clayface" identity from another picture he starred in, Karlo had planned to kill the cast to force the studio to rehire him. Karlo also reveals he'd killed Walker due to him recognizing him during Lorna's murder and attempting to blackmail him with the information. With the case solved and Karlo arrested, Batman and Robin refuse an offer from Bentley to join the pictures, wanting to keep focused on their battle against crime.

Appearances

Individuals

Organizations

  • Argus Motion Picture Company (Only appearance)
  • Roxy Brenner's Gang (Only appearance)

Locations

Vehicles

Objects

Miscellaneous

  • The Terror

Notes

Links

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