Basil Karlo, The original Clayface, was an actor who was driven mad when he heard of a re-make of the classic horror film he had starred in, The Terror. Adopting the persona of the film's villain "Clayface", he became a serial killer targeting the cast and crew. He was eventually stopped by Batman and Robin. Later, Karlo would be imbued with the powers of Clayfaces Preston Payne and Sondra Fuller. Additionally, his body sports crystals similar to quartz that endow him with greater powers.
Basil Karlo was an actor until he was driven mad by learning that there would be a remake of the classic horror film he had originally starred in with a new actor in the lead role. Adopting the alias of the film's villain, "Clayface," he fatally wounded several members of the cast and crew of the remake before eventually being defeated by Batman and Robin. He reappears in Detective Comics #49 (March 1941) after the prison ambulance he is riding in plunges off a cliff. He once again dons the mask of Clayface and targets Bruce Wayne's fiancee. Once again, the Dynamic Duo foil the evil Karlo. The name of the character comes from Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone. Much later, Clayface languishes in a prison hospital, where Lady Clay (Sondra Fuller) visits him out of curiosity. Clayface then forms an alliance (consisting of Lady Clay, Clayface II, and Clayface III) dubbed "the Mudpack" to defeat Batman. though the Mud Pack, as the group called itself, is defeated, Karlo manages, by tricking his allies, to imbue himself with abilities similar to those of Preston Payne and Sondra Fuller. He was defeated by the combined efforts of Batman and Looker of the Outsiders by overloading his abilities making him melt into the ground. While literally sinking into the earth's crust when he loses control of his power, he manages to survive, and now his body sports crystals similar to quartz that endow him with greater powers. Karlo was able to escape his underground prison when Gotham City was struck by the great Cataclysm. He was able to capture Batman and was about to kill him, but he got into a feud with Mr. Freeze on who has a right to kill the Caped Crusader. With that distraction, Batman soundly defeated both of them.
During the "No Man's Land" storyline, Basil Karlo holds Poison Ivy, who is in charge of producing fresh vegetables for the remaining people in the city, prisoner in Robinson Park. Poison Ivy eventually battles and defeats Karlo, sinking him deep into the ground. It appears that the Ultimate Clayface is destroyed in this battle, but has resurfaced as a member of the Secret Society of Super-Villains II. Later, he seeks to increase his already formidable powers by absorbing Wonder Woman (a clay construct similar to him), giving him an amount of powers that bordered on invulnerability. While he is successful in absorbing the heroine, he is ultimately forced to release her. Clayface was amongst the members of the Injustice League and was among the villains seen in Salvation Run. He can be seen as the member of Libra's Secret Society of Super Villains. In the second issue of Final Crisis, he triggers an explosion at the Daily Planet in Metropolis, the home of Superman.