Batman: One Bad Day – Clayface #1 is part of a series of one-shots published by DC Comics, written by Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, art by Xermanico, colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr, and letters by Tom Napolitano. Basil Karlo, aka Clayface, dreams of becoming an actor, able to use his powers of transformation. But fear of rejection can lead to danger for those near him.
There is a brilliant concept to the story, split between two elements. The plot follows Karlo through the acting process and up the hierarchy of Hollywood. There’s a superb structure, with a cynical yet in-depth glimpse at filmmaking through a creative lens. Many of the jokes are very meta within the world of comic movies and films. But this is also a creepy horror story, with Clayface’s rise coming through tragedy and extremely dark means. From the first incident, there is a nervous feeling in the book, but the problems get worse and worse, becoming uncomfortable. This plotline is extremely surprising, and the extreme levels it reaches are horrifying. There aren’t moments of hope, with a deeply saddening conclusion.
What makes the comic so surprising is the portrayal of Clayface. The location and setting are perfect for the character, taking place where dreams can be ruined and go to die, with expectations not necessarily meeting reality. Karlo’s mind is presented as incredibly fragile, with the writers superbly showing a decline in sanity. Early on, posing as someone was creepy, but he seemed genuine and kind. But the jealousy and inability to deal with anger become terrifying very quickly. The dialogue in this comic is amazing and able to intensify quickly. You can see the danger before the characters can, creating a nervous atmosphere before the bad things happen. There are these big monologues too, but the crafting of these passages is beautiful. Karlo has been a villain before, but he has also had a change of heart recently, being included in Batman’s teams. So for what happens in this issue to occur is heartbreaking. Batman only makes his presence known right at the end of the book. However, his impact is like a splash of water to the face after the spiral of chaos.
The art in this comic is provided by one of the best in DC’s current roster. Xermanico brings gorgeous, clean lines to the issue. At the core of the comic is the relative normality of the world, with a glamorous take on the world of sets and filmmaking. Most of the characters are just normal people, individual and unique in their designs. Then comes the abnormal; Karlo. Xermanico constructs the skin-crawling mass that is Clayface’s body. His full form is scary and a brilliant design. However, for me, the partial transformation is the most haunting. There are elements of Two-Face in these moments, his face contorting and melting. There are some frightening panels that elevate Calyface’s fear factor as a character. The artist also keeps to the theme with a fantastic idea. The issue is interspersed with pieces of script, actually writing what is happening in the panel. In some instances, it replaces the action. It’s such an effective piece of storytelling that it is a perfect elevation of the concept.
The colors are stunning. In the light, the splendor of the situation and locations are terrific. The blending of tone in the sky is flawless, the glitz and the glamour of Hollywood shining through. But in the darkness, the comic also shines. It could be considered overly dark, but framing a person almost entirely in shadows is incredibly impactful. The lettering is great for most of the issue, although some of the monologues are understandably difficult to format.
Batman: One Bad Day – Clayface #1 is one of the most intense additions to the series. Other books in the series have attempted to give redeeming qualities to the characters, showing them as more than villains. But with the Clayface chapter, it is the opposite. It takes a figure who had been looking to make amends and reminds us of how terrifying he can be. It’s a true horror series, and being dragged along while watching it unfold is a terrifying and engaging experience. Laced with a brilliant structure and features creative decisions that make it a superbly written story, paired with a phenomenal art team.
Batman: One Bad Day - Clayface #1
Batman: One Bad Day – Clayface #1 is one of the most intense additions to the series. Other books in the series have attempted to give redeeming qualities to the characters, showing them as more than villains. But with the Clayface chapter, it is the opposite.