“Just off the Queens shoreline, in the body of water known as Long Island Sound, there sits a godforsaken chunk of dirt and rock called Ryker’s Island. Many of the inhabitants of Ryker’s owe their present residence there to a gentleman known as the Spectacular Spider-Man, for the island is the site of a New York State penitentiary! As far as prisons go, it is not in the best of shape but in recent years, one section has been redesigned to hold a strange new breed of criminal…a breed the tabloids like to call super-villains! This is cell block eight, the place where the state of New York sends those hard cases. Here the cells have triple thick walls of reinforced concrete and omnium steel.”
Thus is described Ryker's Island, in Spectacular Spider-Man #46 from back in 1980.
I feel like there is a big chunk of story missing in between comic issues. What happens when a bad guy goes to prison and how are they treated on “the inside?” We do get brief snippets of what happens but nothing in depth. We saw a little bit of Ryker’s in Spider-Man Marvel Knights and maybe too much of a look when Tombstone went to prison in Spider-Man Tangled Web #16. I know that any storyline would be nothing like “Oz,” which I’m ok with but prison is Hell when regarding real world situations. Prisons are underfunded, understaffed, crumbling and overcrowded. Now imagine trying to control that population when superhumans are housed there.
In December 2021, a city judge ordered the release of an unnamed detainee. The detainee had been kept in a crowded intake cell for three days, much longer than the statutory limit of 24 hours. Judge April Newbauer called the situation at Rikers Island an “entirely foreseeable crisis.” The crisis involved “rampant violence,” “squalid conditions,” and “a lack of essential services such as food and water.”
The island is natural but was increased in size with trash taken from Manhattan. As the trash decomposes, it releases methane gas, which is very combustible and can replace oxygen. If you are housing someone with heat or electrical based powers, you’d soon have a problem.
If you are a criminal and are repeatedly sent back to such a place by a guy in spandex cracking jokes at your expense, you’d probably harbor some resentment too.