In superhero comics, the two most famous (or notorious) institutions for the rehabilitation of supervillains are DC’s Arkham Asylum and Marvel’s The Raft. Arkham is a psychiatric hospital that holds most of Batman’s rogues’ gallery including Joker, Two-face, and Deadshot to name a few. The Raft is a prison run by SHIELD, which counts a large number of Marvel’s most powerful super-crooks among its inmates.
Both places have garnered reputations for being particularly harsh environments where only the most dangerous of criminal individuals are sentenced. Since we’re discussing two similar properties from DC and Marvel, due to comic book fan tradition, we must now ask: which has the most dangerous prisoners, Arkham Asylum or the Raft?
10 Arkham: The Inmates Are More Disturbed
Unlike the Raft, Arkham Asylum specializes solely in the criminally insane demographic of incarcerated supervillains, meaning that the general population of its inmates are people like Two-Face, Riddler, and of course the Joker. These aren’t petty criminals but psychopaths, sociopaths, and mass murderers.
In the rare instance that a regular criminal can con their way into Arkham on a fraudulent insanity plea, as seen in the miniseries Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, they find themselves in a horrifying environment ill-suited for a person without an existing mental illness.
9 The Raft: The Inmates Are More Powerful
The Raft is a prison designed specifically to hold super-human criminals. While Arkham has many inmates who are considered supervillains or possess super-powers, they count far more non-powered inmates among their number.
Some of the most powerful villains in the Marvel Universe have been sentenced to the Raft, at least for a time. Among their notorious alumnae are fiends like Crossbones, the Super-Skrull, Carnage, and even Doctor Doom.
8 Arkham: Only Houses The Worst of the Worst
As previously stated, Arkahm’s inmate population is comprised of the most disturbed criminal minds in Gotham, and it’s surrounding area. One must not only have a considerably warped mental state to be considered eligible for treatment at the asylum but must have proven to be a significant danger to society.
Most convicted criminals in Gotham designated as being criminally insane are treated at the Williams Medical Center, while only the deadliest or potentially dangerous are sentenced to Arkham.
7 The Raft: Larger Population
Arkham, due to its nature as a psychiatric hospital, seems able to house a large but relatively modest amount of patients on its grounds. Depending on who is drawing it, it appears to be able to hold anywhere from several dozens of patients to over a hundred.
The Raft, on the other hand, maintains a fairly large population of prisoners, with the prison seeming to be able to hold several hundred at a time. While early appearances show its number of prisoners at a little less than a hundred, it seems as though this number has grown substantially in recent years.
6 Arkham: Higher Amount of Staff Fatalities
One of the worst jobs in comics would seem to be being a prison guard at Arkham Asylum. The corrections officers at Arkham appear to come in three varieties: ones that are happily corrupt, honest ones that get killed whenever the Joker or another inmate escapes, or honest ones who are forced into helping Joker or another inmate escape only to then get murdered.
The rest of the staff doesn’t fare much better, as the various head’s of the asylum have typically gone insane over time while the most psychiatrists who have worked there include Dr. Harleen Quinzel, who went on to become Harley Quinn, and Dr. Jonathan Crane, the man who would become Scarecrow. There’s no working around it, prolonged exposure to the Asylum’s inmate population isn’t great for your health.
5 The Raft: Tougher Security Measures
When developing the Raft, SHIELD installed a staggering number of security measures to prevent any prison breaks by the facility’s more powerful convicts. A bio-dampening field that surrounds the prison and weakens its prisoners’ super-powers is only one aspect.
The Raft is also surrounded by spans of water populated by jellyfish capable of administering nerve-toxins so powerful that they were even able to halt the Juggernaut. If that wasn’t enough, computer-controlled laser guns are mounted across the perimeter, ready to fire at any inmate who tries to make a break for it. SHIELD left nothing to chance.
4 Arkham: The Asylum Is Cursed
Why does Arkham Asylum have such a sordid history (other than the fact it makes for a more dramatic narrative)? It’s actually cursed.
After the Asylum’s founder, Dr. Amadeus Arkham’s wife and daughter were murdered by serial killer “Mad Dog” Hawkins, he descended into madness and used occult ruins to remodel the Asylum’s floor plan. This is, of course, not the best way to design any building, let alone a mental health facility.
3 The Raft: Complex Gang Hierarchy
As with any prison, the inmates of the Raft have developed unique gang hierarchies based on their various power sets, backgrounds, and ideals. For example, telepaths or mad scientists may form small groups due to their shared backgrounds.
The formation of such units makes facing down a prison riot at the Raft more difficult, as they can strategize and work together to optimize their abilities.
2 Arkham: Even Batman Has Trouble There
One thing that makes Arkham one of the deadliest places in the DC Universe is that even Batman struggles on the occasions he is trapped inside its walls. The Dark Knight is one of the most hardboiled heroes DC has, but Arkham Asylum always knocks him a little off-kilter.
This is best displayed in the famous Arkham Asylum: A Serious Place on Serious Earth, where Batman finds himself grappling with his own sense-of-self as he battles his way through a riot at the Asylum. Any place that can rattle the Caped Crusader should give anyone pause.
1 The Raft: It Takes A Whole Team of Avengers To Stop A Jailbreak
When the Raft’s extreme security measures fail to hold back a massive jailbreak, it takes a whole squad of Avengers to reign in the chaos. In the pages of New Avengers, a Skrull disguised as Elektra hires the villain Electro to bust Sauron out of the super-prison, starting a sprawling riot in the process.
The combined might of Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Spider-Woman are only able to quell the riot thanks to the appearance of the Sentry, and even then a large number of prisoners are still able to escape.
Both Arkham Asylum and The Raft are incredibly dangerous places, but which one has the most dangerous supervillains?