Blackgate Penitentiary

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Blackgate Penitentiary
File:Blackgate Penitentiary Batman Vol 2 18.png
Art by Andy Kubert and Alex Maleev
First appearanceDetective Comics #629
(May 1991)
PublisherDC Comics

Blackgate Penitentiary is a fictional prison appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics, commonly in stories featuring the superhero Batman. The facility first appeared in Detective Comics #629 (May 1991), written by Peter Milligan with art by Jim Aparo and Steve Leialoha.

Serving as a prison and a genetic modification facility, Blackgate Penitentiary is located on a small island in Gotham Bay, which is part of Gotham City. Batman: The Long Halloween suggests that it was preceded by Gotham State Penitentiary, which appeared often in comics prior to the continuity change brought about by 1985 miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Fictional history[edit]

Blackgate Prison (later known as Blackgate Penitentiary) operated separately from Gotham Prison (later known as Gotham State Penitentiary). Both prisons are located in Gotham and while Blackgate is the main correctional facility used by writers today, Gotham State Penitentiary was the primary correctional facility used in the comics up until the early 1990s. According to modern continuity, in the early 1990s, Blackgate Prison was condemned by Amnesty International and forced to shut down.[1] When the prison eventually re-opened, it was officially known as "Blackgate Penitentiary." Because of its secure location on a secluded island, Blackgate began to take prominence over Gotham State, until the latter became virtually unused.

Unlike Arkham Asylum, Blackgate is where sane criminals such as the Penguin, Catman, David Cain, Monsoon, Ernie Chubb, KGBeast and various henchmen, mobsters, and mafia bosses are incarcerated when captured. Joker, Two-Face, Clayface II (Matt Hagen), Ventriloquist, Mr. Zsasz, Firefly, Calendar Man and Rupert Thorne are some criminals who have done time in both Arkham Asylum and in Blackgate Penitentiary.

There are instances where inmates from Arkham Asylum are temporarily moved to Blackgate, like when Bane destroys the original Arkham building.[2] All of the Arkham inmates are incarcerated in Blackgate until the new Arkham structure is built and opened.[3]

There is a one-shot about a breakout happening in the prison entitled Batman: Blackgate. The prisoners in the story are Cluemaster, Steeljacket, Ratcatcher, The Trigger Twins, Dragoncat, Gunhawk, Czonka (The Baffler), Actuary, and others. Several of these villains are also featured in the Cataclysm storyline when an earthquake and the resulting tidal waves damage the prison and open up a land bridge to Gotham. This allows the majority of the inmates of Blackgate to escape. During the subsequent No Man's Land storyline, the master jailer Lock-Up took control of Blackgate, enlisting KGBeast and the Trigger Twins to act as wardens for his prison, and rules with an iron fist; Batman only tolerates his presence because he requires Lock-Up to keep captured criminals in check to prevent Gotham being overrun, although Lock-Up is under strict orders to treat the prisoners well. Towards the end of the storyline, Batman enlists Dick Grayson's help in overthrowing Lock-Up[4][5] so Blackgate could be used for the lawful side once again.[6]

Notable incarcerated[edit]

  • Actuary
  • The Baffler[7]
  • Bane
  • Black Spider
  • Bonaventure Strake
  • Bruce Wayne - He was incarcerated here when he is falsely convicted of murdering Vesper Fairchild)[8]
  • The Boss[9]
  • Calendar Man
  • Catman
  • Catwoman
  • Charles "Rhino" Daley
  • Clayface (Basil Karlo) - Relocated to Arkham Asylum.
  • Clayface (Matt Hagen) - Relocated to Arkham Asylum.
  • Cluemaster
  • Cypher (Avery Twombey)
  • Dalton Perry
  • David Cain
  • Dean "Hungry" Fahy
  • Dr. Fang
  • Doctor Phosphorus
  • Dragoncat
  • Electrocutioner (Lester Buchinsky)
  • Emperor Blackgate[9]
  • Ernie Chubb
  • Eustace Marker
  • Faceless (Joseph Zedno)
  • Firebug
  • Firefly
  • Puzzleman (Greg Rourke[10]) - Relocated to Arkham Asylum[11]
  • Gunhawk
  • Henry Etchison
  • Hsui Cheung
  • Jan Brodie
  • Jared Manx[10]
  • John McCone
  • Joker - In The Joker: Devil's Advocate the Joker is sentenced to death row in Blackgate before eventually returning to Arkham Asylum.
  • KGBeast
  • Lady Spellbinder
  • Monsoon
  • Mortimer Kadaver
  • Mister Polka-Dot (Abner Krill)
  • Mugsy - Rhino's partner and henchmen of Arnold Wesker.
  • Mr. Zsasz
  • The Penguin
  • Professor Ivo (Anthony Ivo)[12]
  • Professor Pyg[13] - Relocated to Arkham Asylum.[14]
  • Ratcatcher
  • Rupert Thorne
  • Sasha Bordeaux[8]
  • Scarface (The Ventriloquist's dummy) - He was carved from the gallows that were used to hang prisoners on Death Row
  • Skeets[15]
  • Stanislaus Johns
  • Steeljacket
  • Titus Samuel Czonka (Czonk, aka The Headbanger, aka The Baffler)
  • Tony Zucco
  • The Trigger Twins
  • Two-Face (relocated to Arkham Asylum)
  • The Ventriloquist - Relocated to Arkham Asylum.
  • Vincent "The Shark" Starkey
  • Weasel (Chet Grimes)
  • William Guilloryta
  • Wrath
  • Zeke[12]

Other versions[edit]

In Batman: Crimson Mist, the third part of the trilogy that began with Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, the now-vampiric Batman, having surrendered to his new dark instincts, kills Black Mask and the False Facers, leaving the gang's severed heads impaled on the spikes of the fence around Blackgate, the faces looking in to the prisoners in an action interpreted as a 'warning'. Batman later reflects, when contemplating his rapidly depleting supply of 'deserving' prey- attempting to kill only those who are themselves killers- that many of Blackgate's inmates are only in for theft or less, grimly musing that they do not deserve his kind of death.

In other media[edit]


  • In Batman: The Animated Series the prison appears under the name Stonegate Penitentiary in the episode "Pretty Poison". Inmates include Jazzman, Spider Conway, Bane, The Terrible Trio, Clock King, Josiah Wormwood, Carlton Duquesne, Poison Ivy, Rupert Thorne, Tony Zucco, the Penguin and Killer Croc.
  • In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Night of the Huntress", Blackgate Penitentiary is featured as Blackgate Prison. Babyface breaks into Blackgate Prison to free Skeleton Keys, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Polecat Perkins, and Hammer Toes. Black Manta, Clock King, Cavalier, Doctor Polaris, Felix Faust, Fun Haus, Kite Man, Scarecrow, Shark, Sportsmaster, Top, and characters from the 60's Batman series (Archer, Bookworm, Egghead, False-Face, King Tut, and Mad Hatter) are shown as inmates trying to break out during Babyface's raid.
  • Blackgate Penitentiary appears in Beware the Batman. It is mentioned as a prison where patients were submitted to a radical psychiatric procedure to cure criminally insane villains. Inmates include Lunkhead and Margaret Sorrow. Later additions include Simon Stagg, Professor Pyg, Mister Toad, Tobias Whale, Phosphorus Rex, Cypher, Humpty Dumpty, Matatoa, and The Key. In "Reckoning", Ra's al Ghul arrives at Blackgate and frees Pyg, Toad, Magpie, Whale, Rex, and Cypher, willing to give a piece of Gotham City to whoever brought Batman to him, dead or alive. In "Animal", Batman has himself arrested in order to track down The Key before he could escape. However, both criminals are pursued by the prison's kingpin and most dangerous inmate, Killer Croc.
  • Blackgate Penitentiary appears in Gotham. It is presided over by the corrupt prison warden Carlson Grey (portrayed by Ned Bellamy) who is good friends with Gillian B. Loeb. In addition, it is mentioned that the inmates are fond of police officers that are sent here. Blackgate Penitentiary is first seen in the episode "Harvey Dent" where insane bomb maker Ian Hargrove is abducted from a Blackgate Penitentiary transport to St. Mark Psychiatric Hospital by the Russian mob led by Gregor Kasyanov following Nikolai's death. After the Russian mob was defeated, Ian Hargrove is transferred to the recently opened Arkham Asylum. In "Wrath of the Villains: Prisoners," James Gordon is incarcerated at Blackgate Penitentiary after Edward Nygma frames him for the murder of Carl Pinkney. A few weeks into his sentence, Warden Grey places Gordon into the prison's F Wing where the only way out is either parole or in a body bag. Though nobody ever gets parole. With help from Carmine Falcone and his prison contacts, Harvey Bullock was able to get James Gordon out of Blackgate Penitentiary. In "Wrath of the Villains: Pinewood," Blackgate is stated to have a women's section as it was mentioned that Karen Jennings was imprisoned at Blackgate prior to being taken out of it to be used in the experiments conducted at Pinewood Farms. In "A Dark Knight: The Demon's Head" and "A Dark Knight: The Blade's Path," Ra's al Ghul was briefly held in Blackgate Penitentiary for the murder of Alex Winthrop until he manipulated events that caused Bruce to use the Mesopotamian embalming knife on him. In the episode "The Beginning...," Penguin was released from Blackgate Penitentiary 10 years later. When Mayor Aubrey Jones gave orders to have Harvey Bullock placed in Blackgate Penitentiary to await trial for the supposed murder of an Arkham Asylum guard, Gordon found evidence that this was set-up by Jeremiah Valeska where the Arkham Asylum guard on his side actually committed suicide to frame Harvey.
  • Blackgate Penitentiary is featured in the TV shows set in the Arrowverse:
    • Blackgate Penitentiary was mentioned in The Flash episode "The Flash of Two Worlds." Eddie Slick was revealed to have once been incarcerated in Blackgate which Joe West learned at the time when Flash faced Eddie's Earth-2 counterpart who operates as Sand Demon.
    • Blackgate Penitentiary is mentioned in the Arrow episode "Present Tense." It was mentioned by Dinah Drake that Grant Wilson has been remanded to Blackgate Penitentiary.
    • Blackgate Penitentiary is featured in Batwoman.


The tunnel in the Software Engineering Institute in Pittsburgh served as the entrance to Blackgate Prison in The Dark Knight Rises.
  • Blackgate Prison is featured in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. As part of the Dent Act, most of Arkham Asylum's inmates were transferred to Blackgate Prison. It appears as one of the many Gotham landmarks Bane targets in his siege of the city. When he arrives at Blackgate with his minions, he reads Commissioner Gordon's possible retirement speech as Bane also calls the prison a symbol of the oppression caused by the Dent Act which put most of Gotham's organized criminals behind bars. Bane destroys the entrance with one of Batman's Tumblers and has the prisoners released (including Selina Kyle who was previously arrested by John Blake while trying to leave Gotham City) by his minions. Most of the inmates were offered by Bane to step forward if they want to serve him. The Carnegie Mellon University Software Engineering Institute building serves as Blackgate Prison in the film.

Video games[edit]

  • The 2003 video game Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu is set in the continuity of Batman: The Animated Series were Sin Tzu causes a jailbreak at Stonegate Penitentiary.
  • The backstory of Batman: Arkham Asylum mentions that a fire at Blackgate has forced many of the inmates to be temporarily housed at Arkham Asylum until Blackgate was rebuilt. In truth, the event was engineered by the Joker in order to get his army of henchmen into Arkham for his master plan that involves the Titan Compound that he in one of his alias manipulated Dr. Penny Young into making. The Blackgate prisoners are the most common enemies in the game, acting as both foot soldiers and test subjects for the Titan compound.
  • In Batman: Arkham City, it has been noted that because of the events in the last game, Arkham Asylum and Blackgate Prison are in no condition to hold prisoners. So the newly created Arkham City was constructed to hold all prisoners from both facilities. Several of Arkham City's prisoners mention that Blackgate was rumored to have been converted into a shopping mall yet these rumors are never confirmed. The prisoners act as soldiers to Joker, Two-Face and Penguin, though some are without a faction and act as both a source of information and entertainment if the player chooses to listen to their conversations. On a related note, some of the prisoners that are seen working for the three villains secretly work for Riddler as Batman would often interrogate them in order to access the Riddler's Challenge Maps.
  • Blackgate Penitentiary is a playable area in Batman: Arkham Origins. In the beginning of the game, the crime lord Black Mask breaks into the prison with his men and the assassin Killer Croc. There, Black Mask tortures Warden Martin Joseph and executes Commissioner Loeb before escaping on a helicopter. Though Black Mask was actually Joker in disguise. At the end of the game, Joker and Bane take over the prison. But outside of these two occasions, Blackgate is not available for free-roam.
  • Blackgate Penitentiary appears as the main setting in Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate (a companion game to Batman: Arkham Origins). Batman enters Blackgate Penitentiary when there was an uprising followed by different inmates siding with Joker, Penguin, and Black Mask. Bane, Deadshot, and Bronze Tiger were also shown as inmates. Following Batman stopping the villains, it was then shown that Amanda Waller and Rick Flag Jr. were able to obtain Bronze Tiger and Deadshot as their additions to the Suicide Squad.

See also[edit]

  • Arkham Asylum
  • Belle Reve
  • Iron Heights Penitentiary
  • Stryker's Island


  1. Detective Comics (vol. 1) #629 (May 1991). DC Comics.
  2. Batman #491. DC Comics.
  3. Batman #521. DC Comics.
  4. Nightwing vol. 2 #35 (September 1999). DC Comics.
  5. Nightwing vol. 2 #36 (October 1999). DC Comics.
  6. Nightwing vol. 2 #37 (November 1999). DC Comics.
  7. Robin (vol. 4) #1. DC Comics.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Detective Comics (vol. 1) #766 (March 2002). DC Comics.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Detective Comics (vol. 2) #20 (July 2013). DC Comics.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Batman: Blackgate, Isle of Men (April 1998). DC Comics.
  11. Shadow of the Bat #80 (December 1998). DC Comics.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Superman/Batman Annual 3 (2009). DC Comics.
  13. Batman and Robin #3
  14. Batman and Robin #16. DC Comics.
  15. Showcase '94 #3 (March 1994). DC Comics.

External links[edit]

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