10 Most Efficient Comic Book Prisons, Ranked
The Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths event in the DC Universe began with “The Death of the Justice League”. However, the titular death really just trapped the Justice League in their own perfect worlds that serve as fantasy prisons. Pariah pulled the League out of action altogether as he worked with the forces of the Greater Darkness to bring the DC Multiverse to an end.
Pariah’s universal prisons are just one of many examples of effective comic prisons. So many powerful villains in each respective comic universe have led to bigger and better prisons being created to hold different sets of powers. While some prisons have succeeded in doing this effectively, others have repeatedly failed.
ten Arkham Asylum is perhaps one of the least efficient but most terrifying comic book prisons
One of the most well-known comic prisons is Arkham Asylum, which first appeared in 1974. Batman #258. Located on the outskirts of Gotham City, Arkham Asylum is home to Batman’s most deranged and iconic villains. While other villains are held at Blackgate Penitentiary, only the most dangerous cases make it to Arkham.
Unfortunately, this is by no means the most effective prison. Arkham’s doctors have failed nearly every attempt to treat or rehabilitate villains like the Joker and Victor Zsasz. Arkham Asylum also has a bit of a revolving door, as criminals frequently break out. Even some of the staff have turned into villains over the years, like Dr. Harleen Quinzel’s corruption into Harley Quinn.
9 SHIELD operates super villain prisons like the Raft, Cube, Vault, and Gamma Base
The Marvel Universe has a number of prisons designed specifically to hold the various powers of Super Villains. The security organization known as SHIELD operated a few different facilities that each experienced varying levels of success. Some of SHIELD’s most successful prisons were The Raft, The Cube, The Vault, and Gamma Base.
The Raft was an island fortress near New York that locked criminals deep underground, though it was prone to escapes. The Vault was one of the first villain prisons and was staffed with an armored squad of guards. The Cube was a classified prison for extraterrestrial prisoners kept off the books. Finally, Gamma Base housed gamma-powered characters, but not very effectively.
8 Belle Reve is a prison run by Amanda Waller who uses criminals to form her suicide squad
1987 suicide squad #1 featured the first appearance of Belle Reve, a supervillain prison located in Louisiana outside of St. Rochs. Amanda Waller chose the prison as the location for her Task Force X operation. She outfitted the prison to better contain metahuman villains that she could then use to undertake missions as the Suicide Squad.
The highly advanced Belle Reve is one of the most secure prisons in the DC Universe. Most prisoners are held in line by a common sense of fear. Fear of Amanda Waller. She planted explosive devices in each member of the Suicide Squad in case they felt like disobeying. The punishment for attempting to escape would pale in comparison to explosives.
seven The Big House Shrinks Overpowered Prisoners With Pym Particles For Rehabilitation
Dr. Hank Pym and his many costumed identities designed a new prison that used his Pym Particles to shrink Super Villains. It became known as The Big House and focused on trying to rehabilitate shrunken villains. Unfortunately, the Big House experiment turned out to be a failure. Not only were the criminals not rehabilitated, but they were also able to escape.
Hank Pym and Janet van Dyne worked together to create a second experimental prison. They again used Pym Particles to reduce powerful Villains. They called it the Lang Memorial Penitentiary, although it was more commonly known as Ant-Farm. This was due to the prison’s attempt to limit corruptible guards in the prison by using ants instead.
6 Prison 42 was a massive prison created by geniuses in the Negative Zone of the other dimension
During Marvel Civil war event, smart minds like Tony Stark, Reed Richards, and Hank Pym pooled their intellect to create 100 World-Changing Ideas. The 42nd idea was ultimately revealed to be a prison for superhumans. It held both villains and their fellow heroes who refused to sign the Superhuman Registration Act.
The prison existed in an alternate dimension known as the Negative Zone. Mister Fantastic of the Fantastic Four first discovered and explored the realm of antimatter. Portals in secure locations were the only access points, making the prison almost unavoidable. However, the prison eventually fell to Blastaar forces and was lost to the Negative Zone.
Slabside Penitentiary was one of DC’s first supervillain prisons and was originally located in New Jersey. It became known as The Slab to prisoners because the only way out of prison was feet first. The Slab finally hired a guard who specialized in the art of escape. Shilo Norman was the second Mister Miracle before taking up his new position at The Slab.
It became nearly escape-proof and was on its way to becoming one of the most efficient comic book prisons. However, the Joker released a powerful new toxin that sparked a devastating riot. The slab was eventually lost in another dimension. Upon returning to Earth, The Slab moved to Antarctica, which made it even more inescapable.
4 The X-Men guard prisoners in suspended animation in the Exile Pit on Krakoa Island
Marvel’s Mutants’ Dawn of X rebranding moved the X-Men to the island of Krakoa where they established a new society. They first worked with dangerous mutants like Sabretooth to set up and protect Krakoa. However, the ruling Silent Council soon turned against the evil mutant after killing humans while on a mission.
As the Silent Council refused to hand over Sabretooth to human authorities, he was instead imprisoned in Krakoa’s Exile Pit. Other mutant prisoners soon followed, and they were all held in suspended animation with little hope of being released. Sabretooth was able to take over their mental prison to make it his own private hell for everyone.
3 The Phantom Zone is a timeless pocket universe created by Jor-El to become a Kryptonian prison
Superman inherited one of his father’s inventions known as the Phantom Zone Searchlight. He was able to open a door to a timeless parallel reality filled with criminals from Krypton. It wasn’t Superman’s preferred option, although he used it to imprison some of Superman’s most iconic villains like Doomsday and General Zod.
The Phantom Zone is incredibly effective as anyone trapped inside has been transformed into a ghost-like state. It negated any powers or abilities they had in the real world. Superman has occasionally freed Kryptonians imprisoned in the city of Kandor after completing their sentence. While the Phantom Zone was escapable for some, it was no easy feat.
2 The Kyln is a galactic prison located near the edge of the Marvel Universe that may contain cosmic gods
Before Marvel Annihilation space epic, a galactic prison known as The Kyln first appeared in 2004 Thanos #seven. It was a high-tech ring of spherical moons that was monitored by the galactic law enforcement group known as Omega Corps. They transported prisoners from other groups like the Nova Corps or the Spaceknights to The Kyln.
The Kyln gained a reputation as a death-sentence prison since most did not survive more than a few years inside. He held all manner of galactic prisoners, which included characters like Star-Lord, Gladiator, and Thanos at one point. The Kyln was even capable of containing powerful Cosmic Gods before being destroyed by the Annihilation Wave.
1 Takron-Galtos is an automated prison planet that has housed prisoners for many centuries
DC’s Guardians of the Universe have their own secure prison system on Oa known as Sciencecells, although they sometimes use an alternate option for certain prisoners. The prison planet known as Takron-Galtos was an option in the 21st century, though it really rose to prominence in the 30th century.
Takron-Galtos first appeared in adventure comics #359 at the time of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Forensic science were the primary jailers of Takron-Galtos, though original members of the Legion of Super-Heroes helped stop more than a few escape attempts. Brainiac 5 eventually created an impenetrable force shield around the planet that made him even more effective.
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