Comic Vine News

91 Comments

Off My Mind: What Type of Prison is Needed For Supervillains?

Ordinary jails simply are not capable of holding them.

In the world of superheroes and supervillains, things are pretty different. Not just in terms of people having superpowers but in everyday living. Comic books often focus on the superhero battles along with the lives and events of the superheroes. We don't often see too much of a focus on what happens after the superhero battle.

As with normal crimes, there are different levels of crimes and bad guys. When a supervillain's scheme to take over the world or even to just rob a bank fails, some thought needs to be made as to what to do with them. For some villains, locking them up in a normal prison is still an option. If they relied on fancy gadgets and technology, the authorities just need to take them away. Other villains contain a deadly level of power inside them and would need to be incarcerated elsewhere.

We have seen different types of prisons over the years in comic books. When it comes to the level of crime an destruction villains are capable of, an ordinary prison is out of the question. With questions of civil rights and safety to civilians in the area, what is the best prison for supervillains?

== TEASER ==

The Raft

If you're going to have to deal with supervillains, you're going to need a super-prison. The idea of the Raft is similar to the concept of Alcatraz or Rikers Island. Put a prison out away from the population. In the middle of the ocean or bay, if a prisoner managed to escape, surviving the icy cold waters and being able to swim to shore would not be possible, unless the prisoner had water-based powers. The Raft is also full of the latest in technology. Each prison cell is modified to deal with and neutralize any superpower the prisoner has.

The Raft is not without its faults. All it took was Electro, a villain Spider-Man had mopped the floor with time and time again, to begin a full scale prison breakout. His electrical powers were enough to put the prison out of commission. That was a pretty big flaw.

Even if there was a way to ensure someone like Electro couldn't exploit that weakness, there's always the chance that the villain imprisoned has a power that no one knows about. They might be ready for superstrength or the ability to fly but what do they do if the prisoner has another secret and deadly power?

We also saw that the Raft has some hidden cells. Sentry had himself locked away for the safety of the world but the question is, who knew he was locked up there? If someone with the power of a million burning suns could be contained without the public being aware, who knows who else might be locked up? Villains should throw away their rights when committing horrible acts but that's just not how the justice system works.

The Negative Zone/42

During Civil War (and in the Avengers animated series), Reed Richards, Hank Pym and Tony Stark built a prison inside the Negative Zone. The only way in or out is through a portal.

If a prisoner manages to escape, they don't have a place to run to unless they are able open or get someone to open a portal for themselves.

Again, there are some problems with this. The Negative Zone is in another dimension. There should be some coordination with any of the locals. You can't just build a prison unless you can get permission. Of course no one will want a prison in their neighborhood.

What about the rights of the villain? Would this prison be permanent or a temporary solution? Will prisoners here be allowed any visitors?

Similar to the prison in the Negative Zone is the Phantom Zone. Kryptonians just dumped their bad guys here for years before Krypton blew up.

A Pym Particle Prison/The Big House

The location of a prison is important. Human rights advocates will need to be able to inspect the prison if they feel it's necessary. People don't want prisons in their communities especially if the threat of deadly villains escaping is a possibility. Why not have Hank Pym shrink down a prison and the prisoners?

Having the prison in a smaller scale allows for easier storage and management. If the villains are able to escape, they're going to be pretty tiny. Prisons costs can be expensive as well, especially if you need to buy real estate to build it. What was the cost to build a prison in the Negative Zone? With a smaller version, you could save a lot of money on building materials. Unless the technology needed could only be built at full size.

Arkham City

Many are playing the current Batman video game. The idea of turning half of a city into a prison might be a little extreme but there are some good ideas here. With the prisoners contained to an entire city, there is more to keep them occupied and trying escape a city might be harder than trying to escape an asylum.

Of course one of Hugo Strange's hope is some of the villains could end up killing each other off. That could make managing a vast amount of prisoners easier. If you checked on them after a while and there were less alive, that's less costs you'd have to worry about.

Of course, letting prisoners kill each other isn't acceptable.

There have been plenty of other prisons such as the Vault, the Cube, Blackgate, Iron Heights, Hell Planet and various ones in future Elseworld stories. None of them proved to be escape proof. Having a prison in another dimension seems to be the most ideal and extreme way to deal with deadly supervillains. It might call their rights into question but if they're going to threaten or try to take over the world, maybe they've already thrown their rights away. It could be costly to build a prison in another dimension. You'd have to find someone willing to work there. You'd also have to hope any inhabitants of the dimension are okay with our criminal element being dumped off there.

The only other option is the death penalty. But that never happens in comics because no one ever really dies.

91 Comments
  • 91 results
  • 1
  • 2
Edited by NightFang

It doesn't matter if the prison is a space station, on the Moon, on a island or even in another dimension. The villains will always find a way to escape and their gonna be pissed for being locked up!

Posted by Migz13

They should all just be given the good ol...

yes.... JUSTICE is done.

Posted by Chibi-Iroh

One that has cells that are made to house supervillians of all types with all types of powers. The cells need to be darn near indestructible.

Posted by darkrider

no prison just kill them all and then let batman move to paradise island to enjoy his retirement

Edited by weaponmaster

Adamantium cells and bars. Force fields for those that the Adamantium can't hold. lobotomies for the Telepaths and teleporters etc.

Posted by Eyz

I always thought Blackgate worked just fine as it was :P

Posted by Eyz

@NightFang said:

It doesn't matter if the prison is a space station, on the Moon, on a island or even in another dimension. The villains will always find a way to escape and their gonna be pissed for being locked up!

Exactly!

Posted by Herx

Willy Wonkas chocolate factory.

If the prisoners dont want to break out than its a successfull one :P

Lex Luthor = Ogustus Glup :P

Edited by Emperor Gonzo Noir

@Herx said:

Willy Wonkas chocolate factory.

If the prisoners dont want to break out than its a successfull one :P

Lex Luthor = Ogustus Glup :P

Keep them in line with musical numbers and obesity from eating nothing but candy!

I always thought Willy Wonka would make a great warden.

Oh wait.

Posted by Oedipus_Rex

Don't forget Belle Reve and the explosives implanted at the base of the skull.

Posted by chriconz123

THE PHANTOM ZONE

Posted by Paracelsus

Good question- at the conclusion of "Civil War", Reed observes of his new Negative Zone super prison for super villains( ANY similarity to "Gitmo" was presumably coincidence) that it was virtually escape-proof

(unlike the Vault) and even if a villain could escape- where would he or she possibly go( shades of Alcatraz ,Marion or Florence Supermax federal penitentiaries, Devil's Island or the Gulag)? As no Negative Zone civilization has diplomatic relations with Earth( far less the US), I doubt if there is any opposition- any the prison seems located far from any likely civilization. Other societies seem to have special penal facilities for superhuman offenders( in "Darkstar And The Winter Guard" trade paperback, Dmitri Bukharin alludes to the "Mantylov Prison" in Russia). In theory the inmates may have some rights but in practice , much like so called "enemy combatants" of Al Qaeda and kindred groups, in reality the danger they pose to the citizenry at large is so great that this cancels this out).

Terry

Posted by Grim

The Raft is damn good, but all those places should have individual Augmented Reality machines, so the criminals cant plot with each other. The AR might even be designed to rehabilitate them while it pacifies them. Wouldnt work with everyone, but still...

Posted by RaggedScarecrow

Danger's Virtual Reality Prison seems like a good way of holding the mutant criminals that the X-Men ran across so I don't see why the Avengers don't use something similar.

Edited by LordRequiem

Well Thor killed Sentry and I doubt the latter will be returning anytime soon. Death penalty in some form, even though they didn't wish for it to come to that. I like the idea of reforming or at least managing them without containing them. Thunderbolts for example, or maybe something more extreme like an X-force type group of villains who would most definately be willing to kill. I know some will simply never change, so teleport them to the otherside of the universe or something, at least it will give some respite to the heroes.

Posted by GothamRed

not arkham

Posted by NightwalkerRevan

Well death might be a final solution in the worst super-villain cases (for example had Bats killed the Joker long ago he might have saved allot of lives), though given the regularity that main characters return from the grave this might be just as much of a temporary solution as any other (such as Sabretooth's imminent return after having been decapitated and sent to hell).

So in terms of prisons I think a telepathic prison could be effective for a number of villains, keeping them locked in their own minds and possibly providing rehabilitation opportunities.

Posted by difficlus

@GothamRed said:

not arkham

definitely not.

The negative zone prison and hanks one are the best suited IMO.

Posted by Frobin

I really hated the Negative Zone Prison, because it was such an good symbol for real politics and it was a straight reference to Guantanamo prison - and of course Civil War has been such an great story with political references, so you MUST say: that's not ok, not just because Iron Man and the Pros locked their friends and heroes there too ... but also criminals have some rights and it's no justice to torture outside of US jurisdiction. So much about Negative Zone prison and Civil War - a very special setting which required a more realistic approach!

BUT usually I really prefer the plain, banal jail where the supervillains are just inside their paltry cells or even better (like the first picture) they are positioned in their cells like in a museum ... maybe in cryogenic sleep or somehow trapped and numbed in a force field switching off their powers. Of course this would be against any civil and human right ... but in this case I prefer the banal supervillain approach. It's classic ... and maybe it would be even realistic, if such superhuman weapons of mass destruction would really exist.

Posted by pinkdaizygirl

Arkham just isnt good enough anymore...

Edited by Xenozoic Shaman

I don't see how they can do much of anything thanks to those annoying writers.  Villains escape any prison you can think of, and when killed, they resurrect and escape from hell too. So... You'd probably have to take the writers out. Heroes need to travel to our dimension and imprison our comic book writers.

Posted by THEBlaqueBasterd

some worryin shit brought up here..even in a run of thw mill hypothetical comic book context...ie: "some of the villains could end up killing each other off. That could make managing a vast amount of prisoners easier. If you checked on them after a while and there were less alive, that's less costs you'd have to worry about." ....Seriously ..WTF.. Am I the only one that blinked when they read that?!

Posted by G-Man

@THEBlaqueBasterd: That was meant to be sarcasm. Which is why I also wrote, "Of course, letting prisoners kill each other isn't a acceptable." I only added Arkham City because we all love the game. I couldn't not mention it. I did previously write an article about whether or not Arkham City could actually work in Batman comic continuity. I always assume people, by now, know when I'm being serious or joking. We're talking about comics after all.

Staff Online
Posted by crowncoke

IF you wanted to create a prison to hold Super Villians you would have to determine what constitutes a Super Villian and what constitutes a Villian or Criminal. Would you house someone like Penquin in a prison for super villians? What about his henchmen (women)? One thing that would have to be considered is the abilities of the villians. Facilites would have to be created that catered to aspects or powers. IF you had Kryptonians for example, you would have to have a cell that was flooded with Red Sunlight and have the walls reinforced with Green Krytonite. Someone like Electro would have to be in a room made totally from Wood & Rubber (and other not conductive items). If you have telepaths, you have them monitored by other Telepaths and handled by Robots (no brain to manipulate). But the major key would be location, Location, LOCATION. Antartica and Death Valley are by and far the most logical options. Lack of human population allows for limited contact from the outside. It also allows for control of weather manipulators (as well as heat/fire & water/ice users). But at the end of the day, someone like Penquin and Joker do not qualify for Superpowered Max as they are extrodinary Humans with devious minds but no powers. To house these, would take minds much greater (like the Heroes that fight them or smarter).

Posted by Nova`Prime`

Lava pits for most, the sun for the rest.

Posted by Or35ti

Obviously there need to be different super prison for different superpower types. You can't put a flyer under an open roof like Arkham City, he'll be gone before you could say Batarang.

Posted by Botiste

My question is why hasn't the Joker been executed? Any other child murderer, rapist, or terrorist would have been. The Joker is the Bin Laden of comics.

Posted by HalfShellHero

As long as the prison has a system that is random and not susceptible to corruption, I think that would hold villains. Eventually the villains always seem to turn a prison guard or manipulate some tech into helping them with an escape, or just commit another crime. If the prisoners can be monitored, but not interacted with, I think that would provide for the best prison. Sure they have rights, but a lot of villains have committed heinous crimes and probably shouldn't be left alive in the first place.

Posted by Botiste

@crowncoke: Being a Deputy Sheriff myself and working at a jail I agree with a large part of what your saying, however the Joker needs to be in a Superpowered Max prison. The Joker has escaped to many times from the normal Supermax. Good suggestions though.

Posted by Doctor!!!!!

Every superprison needs inhibitor collars, like Belle Reeve. But I will manage to escape somehow!

Posted by crowncoke

@Botiste It has come up several times with friends. Wildstorm had a super secret, Super Max facility designed for powered beings, and that is where I start with my idea. As for Joker, I do agree that a special facility is needed for him. But putting him in the same facility as powered beings is something I am not sure needs doing. I would have a facility for those type of criminals (Joker, Penguin and Luthor) that limits contact, influence and such but does not waste funds by using a room that could house a powered being.

Posted by Psykhophear

The containment unit like Ghostbusters. Store those bastards into a trap each and voila, no worries. Let them rot in the containment unit, unless some douchebag will make the same mistake like Walter Peck did and shut it down.

Posted by Chris2KLee

Toss'em in the Phantom Zone, let Zod sort'em out.

Edited by ArtisticNeedham
A Virtual Reality Helmet

A virtual one, where the criminals are in suspended animation while rehabilitating programs and put into their minds like in Demolition Man (only set in the Negative Zone or the Phantom Zone).

Posted by jordama

Why aren't more getting the death penalty?

Posted by Fantasgasmic

space prison. even if you escape, you can't survive. Also, how did you not include the Gulag from Kingdom Come?

Posted by Full_Spectrum

Build a prison in the core of the earth, using force fields to keep it from being incinerated. Tie the force field power source directly into the power for the prison security systems. If someone like Electro should try to shut down the power for the prison, the entire prison would be destroyed.

Posted by mattydeNero

I loved the Negative Zone/42 prison Reed concocted during Civil War, in turn, Supes can send you to the Phantom Zone. So I guess that answers the question for me, alternate dimension prisons rule. If you really don't want to see Diablo again, send him to 42. If really REALLY don't want to see or hear from Silver Banshee, Phantom it up.

Posted by Full_Spectrum
@jordama: not guilty by reason of insanity. that's why joker and riddler and two-face and other get sent to arkham instead of a supermax prison. that's why you can't execute them, because they have to be of sound mind.
Posted by jordama

@Full_Spectrum said:

@jordama: not guilty by reason of insanity. that's why joker and riddler and two-face and other get sent to arkham instead of a supermax prison. that's why you can't execute them, because they have to be of sound mind.

But most aren't actually crazy, they are just criminals.

Posted by jordama

@ArtisticNeedham said:

A Virtual Reality Helmet

A virtual one, where the criminals are in suspended animation while rehabilitating programs and put into their minds like in Demolition Man (only set in the Negative Zone or the Phantom Zone).

That is actually what the X-Men were doing for a while.

Posted by EisforExtinction
Edited by Marshal Victory
@EisforExtinction
Was just gona post that..
 
 
Answer: A good one.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superjail!_(TV_series)
Much could be learned from Superjail.
one could say ( donts sun glasses over regular glasses) its a winning idea....
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9N1KIO2ttow
    
 
  It would be crazy enuff in their i dont think the joker would ever want to leave.
Posted by InnerVenom123

@Botiste said:

My question is why hasn't the Joker been executed? Any other child murderer, rapist, or terrorist would have been. The Joker is the Bin Laden of comics.

The key difference being that Joker is ridiculously easy to find.

Online
Posted by Botiste

@Full_Spectrum: The Joker has executed more cops and civilians then any homeland terrorist. The nation would find a way to accidentally kill this guy "We're pretty good at doing that".

Posted by The Stegman

i personally think the Phantom Zone is the best prison, there's no way for them to escape except by outside interference with a projector, destroy all of those, and they're trapped for good...theoretically 

Online
Posted by HunterGP02

It would be interesting to see a story arc where a super villian gets sentenced to death.

Posted by Kairan1979
@HunterGP02 said:
It would be interesting to see a story arc where a super villian gets sentenced to death.
Posted by Souperman

A small one room cell with a severely used cosmic cube powered electric chair.

Posted by cosmo111687

I always thought it would be interesting if a section of Themyscira was turned into a prison and protected by the Amazons and the Greek Gods.

  • 91 results
  • 1
  • 2