If a Man be Made of Clay: Happy Hallowe’en!

The popularity of Batman today is directly related to his comics in the Seventies.  After finally wrestling artistic control away from creator Bob Kane’s studio in the early Sixties and hitting a resurgence of popularity due to the 1966 TV show, Batman comics were then written and drawn by a series of second-generation professionals that brought their own ideas to the Bat Franchise:

Batman should be dark

Batman should be a detective

Batman needed better villains

These edicts, combined with a corollary (Batman needed to be drawn better) formed a style that can be traced into today’s contemporary work: From the Chris Nolan movie franchise, Ra’s Al Ghul and his daughter Talia, were created in the Seventies, and the characteristics of The Joker and Two-Face (characters created in the 1940s) were mainly established in comics published in the Seventies as well.

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Writer Steve Engelhart and artists Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin brought back several Golden Age villains (The Joker, Penguin, Deadshot, and Dr Hugo Strange) and created a whole new one, a monster who’s touch could melt flesh: 

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Clayface.

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There were actually two other Batman Rogues with the title, a Golden Age masked killer and a shape-changing bank robber from the 1950s, Clayface III was Preston Payne, a miss-happened man with a rare genetic disorder whose attempt to cure himself resulted in the dissolving of his own skin.  Forced to wear a containment suit, Payne discovered his sanity was slowly leaving him, as painful migraine headaches would compel him to touch other humans, infecting them with a rapid-acting version of his own disorder.

Welcome to the Seventies.

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BOOKS TO ENJOY:

“The coming of Clayface III”/ “If a man be made of clay” BATMAN STRANGE APPARITIONS (Englehart, Rogers, Austin)

“Mortal Clay” BATMAN ANNUAL #11 (Moore, Freeman)

 

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