The Ace Chemical Processing Plant (often referred to as "Ace Chemicals") is a chemical plant in Gotham City. Located next to the Monarch Playing Card Company, it is often used as a hideout for criminals who use chemical weapons, primarily the Joker. Various accounts point to the plant as the place where the Clown Prince of Crime began, often due to falling into one of its mixing vats.
First appearing in Detective Comics #168, the Ace Chemical plant was a chemicals manufacturing facility located directly beside the Monarch Playing Card Company. The Playing Card Company was robbed by the professional criminal known as the Red Hood who was confronted by Batman. Red Hood attempted to escape through the ACE Chemical Plant and jumped into a vat of chemicals in order to escape and swam away from the vigilante through the use of a breathing device hidden within his signature cowl. After finally having made his escaping and taking refuge in the Playing Card factory, Red Hood noticed that the chemicals had bleached his skin bone-white, dyed his hair green and colored his lips red. Noticing his similarities to the figure on Monarch's Joker playing cards, Red Hood declared himself "The Joker" and used his new appearance for a new life of crime.
According to a memory of the Joker which may or may not be true, before he was a super-criminal he was an employee at the Ace Chemical Processing Plant where he was a minor engineer with a mind for chemistry. He eventually quit his job to try and become a stand-up comedian only to fail miserably than later learn his wife Jeannie was pregnant which would send them into greater financial problems than they already were in. Desperate, he made a deal with gangsters in which he would help them rob his old workplace of ACE Chemicals in exchange for money. The gangsters gave him a red cowl made of one-way glass and a red cape, informing him that he'd be wearing both to disguise himself as "The Red Hood" a criminal alias which the gangsters used as a red herring to make the police (and Batman) focus on him while they were merely treated as accomplices. Not long before the robbery the engineer's wife and unborn child both died in a freak electrical accident when Jeannie tested out a defective electric baby-bottle heater. Forced to still go through with the crime, things turned sour when it was revealed the police and Batman ambushed them with the gangsters being shot down by police as the Red Hood was chased down by Batman who believed him to be a super-villain. Attempting to convince Batman he was simply a decoy, Red Hood attempted to remove the helm but tripped on his own cape and fell over edge of a cat-walk into a vat of chemicals where he was presumed deceased. In reality he was washed up in a chemical river and found himself with bleached white skin, dyed green hair and red-tinted lips. Finally being pushed off of the edge, the Red Hood became the Joker.
Years later the Ace Chemicals plant was the first location Batman came into contact with the new Red Hood, Jason Todd.
Prime Earth (New 52)
In the New 52, the plant is connected to Kane Chemicals, a company owned by the parents of Martha Wayne, which was then sold to Apex Chemicals, and then in turn became Ace Chemicals.
One night an insane super-villain known as the Red Hood attempted to use several chemicals and explosives to turn the entire ACE Chemicals Plant into a giant bomb with the help of his gang, the Red Hood Gang which was made up mostly of individuals black-mailed by the Red Hood. Red Hood was found out by the vigilante known as Batman who had only made a few appearances in Gotham prior to then but who had fought the Red Hood on countless occasions. Batman managed to prevent the plant from exploding but it was set aflame in the process, Red Hood attempted to escape via helacopter but Batman pulled him down to fight him hand-to-hand. Ultimately the fight ended with the cat-walk the two were fighting on being destroyed by a chemical blast from the over-heated chemical vat below. Red Hood was hanging off the edge of the cat-walk while Batman was securely on-top trying to save his enemy. Red Hood laughed at Batman's nobility and willingly let go, falling into the flaming vat of acid while smiling maniacally. Due to the acid having been lethal and boiling-hot Red Hood should have been killed by the fall and was presumed dead but his body was never found. The police had a suspicion from interrogations of Red Hood Gang members that the criminal's identity was a thug from the narrows named Liam Distal but Distal's body was found shortly after outside of Amusement Mile, dissolved in Lye so that the time and cause of death would be impossible to discover, presumably having been killed by the real Red Hood.
Some time later Red Hood resurfaced only now calling himself "The Joker" and having his skin bleached white and his hair dyed green.
Over the years, the Joker has revisited Ace Chemicals several times, and on occasion has even used it as a temporary hideout. Notable examples include Death of the Family, where Joker and Harley Quinn lure Batman to the Plant to repeat the "accident" that transformed the Red Hood into the Joker.
In Other Media
- Main article: Axis Chemicals
In the 1989 film Batman, the chemical factory is renamed "Axis Chemicals", combining both Ace Chemicals and the similar Apex Chemicals from "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate". The facility was owned by Gotham's don Carl Grissom, who used it as a set-up to get rid of his mentally unhinged subordinate Jack Napier. This led to a confrontation at Axis Chemicals where Napier encountered Batman. During the fight, Jack was disfigured by both a stray gunshot and falling to a vat of chemicals that bleached his skin white, hair green and lips red. After murdering Grissom, Napier (now calling himself "Joker") uses the plant to manufacture the deadly nerve-agent Smylex, which was used in his reign of terror in Gotham City. The factory was later destroyed by Batman, who planted explosives in the building using his Batmobile.
The Ace Chemical Processing Plant briefly appears in the film Suicide Squad where the Joker tells his former therapist Dr. Harleen Quinzell who he had just tortured into obedience to jump into a vat of chemicals. Harley obeys (to Joker's surprise which is strange as he had already tortured her into obedience) so Joker decides to leave her in the vat (supposedly to die) but has a change of heart and leaps in himself. In the vat of chemicals, the Harley is now bleached white just like the Joker and the two kiss.
In Birds of Prey, Harley destroys the factory as part of her "emancipation."
DC Animated Universe
In Batman the Animated Series, Ace Chemicals was a chemical manufacturing plant which was robbed by the gang leader Jack Napier not long after he left the Valestra Mob. After Batman showed up to stop the robbery, Jack fell off of a cat-walk and into a vat of chemicals which transformed him into the Joker.
Years later, Joker and his partner Harley Quinn began using Ace Chemicals as a criminal hideout. Upon falsely coming to believe that a low-level thug named Sidney "Sid the Squid" Debris had in-fact murdered the Batman, Joker held a funeral service for Batman at the chemical plant. Angry at Sidney having had supposedly killed Batman and taken away Joker's fun, Joker had Sidney locked inside of a coffin with Batman's cape then lowered into a vat of deadly acid. Sidney was saved however by the Batman.
Years after that, a reporter named Jack Ryder went to ACE Chemicals to do a piece on the Joker's origins but he was attacked by the Joker and pushed into the same chemicals which made Jack Napier into the Clown Prince of Crime while also being attacked with Joker Venom. The result of the combining chemicals transformed Jack Ryder into "The Creeper", a chaotic Tarzan-like person with super-strength who stalked Harley Quinn and attacked Joker before being returned to normal by Batman.
Ace Chemicals first appears in the episode A Dead Man Feels No Cold, in which Mr. Freeze raided the plant in order to steal supercooled liquid helium for his ice gun. During No Man's Land, Ace Chemicals was later taken over by Jeremiah Valeska, Ecco and the Mad Hatter, who used the factory to create toxic chemicals in a scheme to poison Gotham City.
LEGO Video Games
- Main article: Ace Chemicals (LEGO Video Games)
Ace Chemicals features frequently in the LEGO Batman video games, serving as a level location. The plant serves as the location for both "The Joker's Home Turf" in LEGO Batman: The Videogame and "Chemical Crisis" in LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes. A miniaturized version features in the LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham level "Big Trouble in Little Gotham", while a redesigned version of the plant features in the open-world for LEGO DC Super-Villains.
Ace Chemicals is featured frequently in the Batman: Arkham games. In both Batman: Arkham City and Batman: Arkham Origins, an office building for the company is featured in Park Row. After being imprisoned Arkham City, Bruce Wayne scales the building and has Alfred deploy a a Batsuit for him at the top. Several Riddler Challenges are also located on the building. The chemical plant itself is mentioned in Hugo Strange's interview tapes with the Joker while the interior of the plant appears in flashbacks in Arkham Origins, both of which tell his origin.
In Batman: Arkham Knight, the Ace Chemicals Plant appears as part of Bleake Island. Having obtained ownership through the Broker, Scarecrow uses the facility to manufacture enough fear-toxin. He also plans to destroy the facility to spread the chemical across the Eastern Seaboard. Batman discovers his plans whilst tracking Scarecrow out and infiltrates. The site is also the meeting place of both him and the Arkham Knight. After being trapped inside, Batman is able to reduce the blast and escape the facility before its destruction. However, the process exposes him to the fear toxin, triggering both hallucinations of new deceased the Joker and the acceleration of his Joker Blood infection.
Ace Chemicals is mentioned in several news reports in Batman: The Telltale Series. The plant is the site of a fire that takes serval days to put out. It is also mentioned that the chemical agent used by Thomas Wayne and the Children of Arkham was created at the plant.
In Batman: The Enemy Within, the Ace Chemicals Plant appears in final episode, "Same Stitch". Now shut down for safety concerns, it is used as a hideout for the Joker and his gang, with access given from a former employee. If Joker is a vigilante, he interrogates Amanda Waller at Ace Chemicals and later battles Batman throughout the main mixing chamber. If Joker becomes a villain, Ace's facilities are used to mass produce Project LOTUS whilst its storage areas are used as part of a trap set for Batman.