In the middle of their high-wire act, the Flying Corleys were startled by a power failure. Three fell to their deaths, and the fourth was critically injured. They might have been saved had the Flash been there, and he was scheduled to make a charity performance, but he had been called away on an emergency JLA case. The blackout itself would have been prevented if construction of Central City’s new power plant hadn’t been delayed.
Lyle Corley, the sole survivor, recovered—physically, at least. (It’s not clear whether he was mute before the accident or whether it cost him his voice.) Mad with grief, he began to plot his revenge.
A year later, wearing a clown suit and using a collection of gimmicks, he went on a crime spree to attract the Flash’s attention. He then kidnapped the governor, the mayor, and the head of Consolidated Power, lured the Flash out, and knocked him out with sub-sonics. Corley then prepared to recreate the accident, this time with the four men he blamed for the original. The Flash was able to break out of the death-trap and capture Corley.
After he was released from prison, he went to Kansas City and began killing other former members of the circus. After six murders, FBI agent Hunter Zolomon tracked him down. When the strike team went in, Corley killed one agent and wounded Zolomon before another agent shot him. Ironically, in his mad quest for vengeance over his own family’s deaths, he tore another family apart.