Detective 479 (July/Aug. 1978) features the conclusion to the 2-part Clayface story, as well the conclusion to Steve Englehart’s run, and the collaboration with Rogers and Austin. Up to this point, no creative team had told such an interconnected story, or given Batman such a strong romantic plotline.
Batman manages to escape from Clayface, whose exoskeleton makes him much stronger, by electrocuting his suit.
Though she is not identified, the cat hints that the mysterious woman who comes to visit Bruce Wayne is Catwoman. This is the first appearance she makes following a story in Batman Family in which she battled the Huntress, and begins her path to redemption. Current continuity would make this her first appearance after Zatanna’s mind wipe of her, as related in Identity Crisis.
Batman manages to track Payne to his wax museum, and sees just how very disturbed the man is. One of the things I really like about this third Clayface is that, as much of a killer as he is, he remains tragic and sympathetic.
Though Batman does beat him, the wax museum catches fire. Clayface, terrified for the “life” of the dummy he loves, bursts his bonds and runs back into the building burning as it collapses.
This Clayface returns in a few years, in a Batman Annual, with an amazing story by Alan Moore.
Hawkman returns to the pages of Detective following his run in Showcase, which saw Hyathis conquer Thanagar, and Hawkman and Hawkgirl exiled again. Len Wein and Rich Buckler contribute this story, which introduces a new villain and brings back an old supporting character.
Returning to the Midway City Museum, Carter and Shiera Hall are surprised to discover someone else in Carter’s office. Mavis Trent, not seen since Hawkman 2, explains that Carter was fired after not showing up to work for months on end. And can you blame them?
Well, maybe you can, since the guy they hired has no trouble announcing that he is a villain, the Fadeaway Man, and uses his magic cloak to send Carter away.
The writer clearly has backstory for this character, with his references to “who he truly is,” and I expect, had this back-up series not been abruptly cut short, he would have returned a few issues down the road.
He vanishes, unwittingly, at the end of the story. The Hawks assume him to be dead, but Fadeaway Man retutns a few years down the road in Brave and the Bold, taking on Hawkman and Batman.