This Secret is as Clear as Clay
The villains keep coming, as Professor Strange seems to be cranking them out by the minute! Tonight’s episode was proof of just how dangerous (and scary) Arkham is the deeper you explore it. And who knows? You might just unearth a cool #DCTV Secret while you’re at it.
- Let’s Talk About Basil (Not the Seasoning)
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Don’t go any further if you don’t want to know any more. But of course you do and you will.
The Man of Many Faces
Tonight’s episode showed us that all of Professor Strange’s hard work and experiments might be a key part of a much larger plan for a mysterious benefactor—one who looks like they could be dug in pretty deep—all the while giving Bruce, Jim and company, a firsthand look at the true evil that lurks in the heart of Arkham.
What made tonight’s already-jam-packed-with-excitement episode even better was the introduction of Basil. Batman fans should recognize that as the first name of Basil Karlo, better known as Clayface!
Although the Clayface moniker has been adopted by numerous people in the comics over the years, Basil Karlo was the first and most famous, making his debut in 1940’s DETECTIVE COMICS #40.
An actor by trade, Basil Karlo went off the rails when he found out that the horror movie he starred in was going to be remade without him in it. Donning the mask of the twisted character he plays in the film, Karlo brings his role off the screen and into real life—murdering the actors involved in the new movie. A real art imitating life thing going on there…or is it life imitating art?
In the 1990’s, Batman: The Animated Series produced a two-part episode that is regarded among many as one of the defining Clayface stories. The episode, titled “Feat of Clay,” combines elements of Basil Karlo and Matt Hagen (the second Clayface who developed shape-shifting abilities) and tells the sad story of an actor who is struggling with an addiction to an experimental “miracle” cream called Renuyu. When applied, the cream conceals his disfigured face.
In order to keep a steady supply, Hagen works with Renuyu’s creator, Roland Daggett, and agrees to pose as Bruce Wayne in order to kill Lucius Fox—who has incriminating evidence against Daggett. When Hagen botches the job, Daggett orders his thugs to kill him. In a brutal scene, the two henchmen hold Hagen down as they pour mass amounts of Renuyu down his throat; failing to kill him, but instead, turning him into a grotesque, mud-like monster bent on revenge and capable of changing his body into anything or anyone.
Though he has been reimagined over the years, Clayface’s gooey body and shape-shifting ability has remained a signature trademark of the character. He’s used it time and time again to create havoc in the Dark Knight’s life, recently in the excellent BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT storyline, "Clay."
Take your shoes off before you come in the house, Bruce. There might be mud on them…
That’s it for Gotham Secrets this year, but be sure to watch the Gotham season finale next Monday. It's a doozy. Also, don’t miss our other #DCTV Secrets columns focusing on The Flash, Arrow and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow!