Iron Heights Penitentiary

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Iron Heights Penitentiary
Iron Heights Penitentiary as seen in Flash: Iron Heights (August 2001)
Notable locations Keystone City
First appearance Flash: Iron Heights (August 2001)
Publisher DC Comics

Iron Heights Penitentiary is a fictional setting in the DC Comics Universe, a maximum-security prison which houses the many Flash rogues and superhuman criminals of Keystone City and Central City when captured. Iron Heights first appeared in Flash: Iron Heights (2001).

Fictional history[edit]

Located about three miles north of Keystone City, Iron Heights Penitentiary is known for its vicious and brutal treatment of its prisoners. Under the ruthless authority of the current Warden, Gregory Wolfe, a former prosecutor of St. Louis, Iron Heights has become a living "hell-hole" to those in the prison. Possessing a personal hatred for the supervillains, Wolfe instituted a lockdown system in the building, and guards were ordered to shoot any prisoner on sight if they were trying to escape or caught outside the prison. Also, the prisoners were beaten on a daily basis. Wolfe has the superhuman ability to tense up others' muscles, which he uses on the prisoners, guards, and even the Flash, making them suffer cramps or discomfort that force them to halt until his power dissipates.

The supervillain prisoners are jailed in an area known as "the Pipeline." The Pipeline is the dark, dank basement of Iron Heights where the prisoners are treated under awful living conditions with little food or water. The prisoners are kept in their costumes so the guards can identify them immediately. Guards have orders to shoot any "mask" spotted outside the Pipeline.

Despite these harsh conditions and the ruthless warden, breakouts have occurred in Iron Heights. A riot occurred when a virus was released in the prison by Murmur, with Blacksmith's help. The viral outbreak ended up killing guards and prisoners. Murmur and Pipeline prisoners Weather Wizard and Girder escaped.[1]

Gorilla Grodd also escaped when he controlled gorillas to break him loose from his confinement, the subsequent attack triggering a mass breakout as all the other cells in the Pipeline were opened as well.

The Outsiders once broke into Iron Heights in order to rescue Black Lightning.[2] Everything did not go as planned, and eventually the prisoners were able to use their abilities again. Massive riots broke out and Wolfe led the riot squad in trying to round everyone up. As Wolfe tried to apprehend the Outsiders using his powers, Shift released gases into the air to counteract it. As a result, Wolfe had a breakdown and increased the intensity of his power. In doing so, he killed 44 people, not including the Outsiders, who were protected by Shift.

During the Blackest Night event, Iron Heights becomes a battleground between the Rogues and their deceased members, who are reanimated as undead members of the Black Lantern Corps.[3]

Known inmates[edit]

Here are the known inmates of Iron Heights:

In other media[edit]


  • Iron Heights appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series. Some of its inmates include Gorilla Grodd (in human form), Black Manta, Clock King, False-Face, Felix Faust, Kite Man, Mad Hatter, Jarvis Kord, Clock King's henchmen Tick and Tock, and characters from the 1960s Batman series (Archer, Black Widow, Bookworm, Louie the Lilac, Egghead, King Tut, Ma Parker, Shame, and Siren).
  • The CW's Arrow and The Flash use Iron Heights as the state prison that both Green Arrow and The Flash use to house criminals from Starling City and Central City. The prison is closer to Starling than Central as it was affected by Malcolm Merlyn's earthquake device from season 1 of Arrow and was later completely rebuilt in season 2 of Arrow. Iron Heights has been shown housing Moira Queen while she was awaiting her trial, Henry Allen as Central City police believe him to be the one who killed his wife/Barry's mother, the Count, Werner Zytle, Bronze Tiger, Shrapnel, The Dollmaker (Barton Mathis), and China White. Aside from the earthquake, Iron Heights is described as being poorly managed as guards have once been observed taking bribes and aiding an assassination within the prison and escapes and riots seem to happen, as not only has Bronze Tiger escaped without the aid of the earthquake but also an ordinary prisoner attacked Quentin Lance when he was briefly incarcerated due to his support for The Arrow. Laurel Lance later stated that there is no such thing as protective custody in Iron Heights, although it did have a secure wing set aside for the Trickster as he was considered too dangerous for regular containment. Iron Heights was initially incapable of housing metahumans, as described by S.T.A.R. Labs founder Dr. Harrison Wells, and the remnant of the Labs' particle accelerator served as a makeshift prison for metahuman criminals while S.T.A.R. Labs work on reversing their mutations. Peek-a-Boo was seen using her powers to help her boyfriend escape from Iron Heights and Barry Allen and Detective Joe West was seen observing the scene inside the prison. As well, the Mist attempted to kill Joe during a visit to Henry Allen in the prison, but Joe was saved by The Flash, and Henry himself was also attacked inside the prison for helping his son and Joe on a case by giving them information about an inmate's boss. By Season Two, the public 'acceptance' of metahumans has resulted in a new wing being established for metahuman prisoners, with Barry and Joe speculating that they should arrange for Leonard Snart to be transferred there due to his knowledge of the Flash's identity despite him not having any powers himself. Mark Mardon breaks into Iron Heights to recruit Snart and James Jesse to help him attack the Flash, but Snart rejects the offer and the other two are soon recaptured. In the final battle against Zoom's metahuman army from Earth-2, most of them are captured in Iron Heights, but a small group of prisoners are taken to the particle accelerator prison (since this number includes the Earth-2 Laurel Lance, it is likely that the other prisoners taken to the accelerator are those with identified counterparts in this world). By Season 3, the metahuman wing remains active and includes new metahumans the Top and Mirror Master, contained in cells specifically designed to negate their powers. The pipeline prison is also witnessed in Arrow, when current villain Prometheus breaks into the prison to break out the Earth-2 version of the late Laurel Lance as part of his campaign against Oliver Queen, exploiting Oliver's attachment to Earth-1's Laurel to put him off-balance.


Video game[edit]

Iron Heights Penitentiary appears in the Season of Infamy DLC from Batman: Arkham Knight. This version of Iron Heights is still a prison, but in a form of an airship, that crashed down in the bay of Bleake Island near Panessa Studios, where Batman is set to fight Killer Croc.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Flash: Iron Heights (2001)
  2. ^ Outsiders Annual (vol. 3) #1 (2007)
  3. ^ Blackest Night: The Flash #1-3 (February – April 2010)

External links[edit]