CREDITS: Written by Marv Wolfman (easily the best known comics writer to yet pen an episode, I don't think I have to mention his main credits but okay, lots of Superman, Tomb of Dracula, and of course, New Teen Titans) and Michael Reaves; directed by Dick Sebast and Kevin Altieri.
REVIEW: Clayface's two-part introduction takes its cue from Two-Face's, the first episode leading to the character being turned into a monster, the second Batman dealing with that monster. And in both cases, the real villain is the one who victimizes them. For Harvey Dent, that was mob boss Rupert Thorne; for Matt Hagen, it's evil CEO Roland Daggett. In both cases, these villains make return appearances, representing two breeds of criminality in Gotham. Daggett's henchmen are worth it too, because they're so quirky. Bell constantly listens to the police band, and Germs is a complete hypochondriac, memorable traits Batman exploits (he's really vicious in the way he intimidates these guys, leading to some of the best scenes in the story). For Clayface, they really had several ways to go and chose the best elements of two of the comic book incarnations.
We're perhaps a bit impatient to see the monster in Part I, and his transformation, in his car, is anti-climactic. Not the way Daggett's men create the conditions for that transformation though. Played in shadow, it's even more horrific than if we'd been able to see it. Is he being drenched in the flesh-puttying clay? Or are they force-feeding him the stuff? And when we cut to his hand and it seems to melt... gah! A strong ending to an episode that had us questioning whether we believed in miracle cream that fixed heavy scarring for a day. But once Hagen is Clayface, the show goes down Akira street, with grotesque shape-shifting and speed lines, leading to crazy crazy animation in the climax. Throw in a "last scare", with Clayface's shell breaking and his laughing at us from the eyes of a sexy bombshell, and you won't believe how long you'll have to wait for the monster's return.
Clayface will take his time, but we'll see Daggett much sooner, I think. After all, he's in the middle of a hostile takeover of WayneTech!
IN THE COMICS: The original Clayface in the comics, Basil Karlo, was a disfigured actor who turned "Phantom of the Opera". The second, Matt Hagen, was a treasure hunter who fell into a radioactive pool of mud and became a shape-changing supervillain. The animated series essentially combined these two characters, though it must be said that some years before, Karlo had returned and injected himself with various other Clayfaces' bodily fluids and become an "Ultimate Clayface" who indeed had Matt Hagen's powers (among others). Roland Daggett does not appear in the comics, but him and his Enterprises appear in a lot of non-comics media - more episodes of BTAS, one of Arrow, and The Dark Knight Rises (where he is JOHN Daggett). Not sure if they're doing it on purpose, but when Clayface loses control and changes very quickly into various identities, the fact that one of these is a pale blue alien, who at one point appears as a half-face makes me wonder if they were referencing Ultra the multi-Alien.
SOUNDS LIKE: Clayface is played by Ron "Hellboy" Perlman, not his first BTAS role. Daggett is recognizably Ed Asner, who's best known character is surely Lou Grant, and who would incarnate a couple more DC characters over the run of the DCAU. Also notable, Ed Bagley Jr. (St. Elsewhere and just everything) as Germs. Scott Valentine, who plays Raymond Bell, was Metallo on Lois & Clark. In the role of Terry Lupus, we have Dick Gautier who had once played Batman in a PSA opposite Burt Ward and Yvonne Craig when Adam West was trying to distance himself from the role.
REWATCHABILITY: High - Great anime-style animation enlivens an already strong tragic monster origin story.