|First appearance||The Spectacular Spider-Man #178, July 1991|
|Created by||J.M. DeMatteis
|Full name||Ashley Kafka|
|Supporting character of||Spider-Man|
|Notable aliases||Dr. Ashley Kafka, Dr. Kafka|
Dr. Ashley Kafka is a supporting character appearing in Marvel Comics and later in multiple spin-offs and dramatizations of the Spider-Man titles. Ashley Kafka was inspired by therapeutic hypnotist Frayda Kafka and was created by writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Sal Buscema. Dr. Kafka works as a psychiatrist for the criminally insane at the Ravencroft Institute in New York City, and is a sometime ally of Spider-Man. Her first appearance was in The Spectacular Spider-Man Vol 1 #178, July 1991, and the appearance of her death came in 2013 during Superior Spider-Man Vol 1 #4.
Growing up in New York with her Mother and Sister' Norma, Ashley Kafka had always put other people first before her; especially when her father left the family. She was raised by her mother, although it could be said that she raised her mother instead; Ashley had a younger sister named Norma, who had been born with severe facial birth defects and was mentally challenged too. Ashley looked after Norma, while their mother (who had mental illness herself), accused Norma of being the Devil, who came to ruin her life. Ashley struggled to maintain the peace, and took care of Norma's needs, plus all the housework when their mother would fall into a whimpering heap if anything went wrong. Their mother died when Ashley was nineteen years old and Norma was left at a psychiatric hospital, where she died a short time later. Ashley then went to college and the Empire State University where she studied psychology and earned a degree, wanting to "save the world".[volume & issue needed]
Ashley went on to become a professional psychologist specializing in the criminally insane and found her own success' when she founded the Ravencroft Institute sanitarium. She was given this opportunity after she demonstrated her talents in treating super-criminals with her psychiatric skills. Seeing the results' the US government decided to create the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane with Ashley as the founder and with her own staff and security team. The facility was designed as a maximum security facility which had varying degrees of success.[volume & issue needed]
During her time at Ravencroft' she helped and aided many people/criminals, one of her patients noted his experiences when he witnessed a battle between Spider-Man and Vermin. Never willing to give up on her patients, Kafka has tried, but so far been unsuccessful to rehabilitate certain patients such as super-criminals like Carnage, Electro, Vulture, Doctor Octopus, Chameleon and Carrion, all of which have fought with Spider-Man for years.[volume & issue needed]
When Kafka's success rate came into question at the time with the constant vary of super-villains, she was replaced for a time by Leonard Samson as director. Samson eventually left the facility which saw Ashley return as the head again.[volume & issue needed]
After the alternate-reality M-Day events ended, and everything went back to the way it was before; a woman named Sally Floyd came to Ravencroft asylum to see the results of the Scarlet Witch's reality-warp on the mutant patients. There she found only three powered mutants instead of the 77 who were residing in the Asylum before the "flash" event, including Prism. The remained powered mutants managed to avenge themselves on the other patients who bullied them during their stay there.[volume & issue needed]
Powers, skills, and equipment
Ashley Kafka possesses no superhuman abilities or powers, but she is an intelligent psychologist.
In the Marvel/DC crossover Spider-Man & Batman, Doctor Kafka was present when behavioral psychiatrist Doctor Cassandra Briar attempted to use Carnage as the test subject for a chip that would essentially lobotomise the homicidal instincts of dangerous patients, Kafka objecting to the treatment in the belief that she could still reach Kasady through conventional therapy (Spider-Man doubted this philosophy but agreed with her objections to Briar's work).
In the MC2 reality, Ashley Kafka ended up falling in love with and marrying John Jameson (son of J. Jonah Jameson) and together they had a son named 'Jack'. Jack became the costumed adventurer known as "The Buzz" without them knowing.[volume & issue needed]
In other media
- Ashley Kafka appears in the Spider-Man episode "Venom Returns" voiced by Barbara Goodson. In this version, Dr. Ashley Kafka was a therapist at Ravencroft just like in the comics. Despite her reluctance, she fell in love with her patient, Eddie Brock, who escaped from Ravencroft after becoming the super-villain Venom again. In "Carnage," Ashley helped Eddie get rid of the symbiote temporarily with the help of Dr. Curt Connors. Ashley was later kidnapped by her other patient Cletus Kasady, who had also escaped and become the fellow super-criminal Carnage. Eddie subsequently re-bonded with the symbiote again to save her, teaming up with both Spider-Man and Iron Man, eventually going up against Carnage, Baron Mordo and Dormammu. After the final showdown, Carnage tried to drag Ashley into Dormammu's realm with him, but Eddie/Venom sacrificed himself to save her and was banished instead, but told Ashley that he loved her before falling through the portal. Ashley was heartbroken by the experience but learned to deal with it and move on. Later on she also treated Harry Osborn when he was incarcerated in Ravencroft too.
- Ashley Kafka appeared in The Spectacular Spider-Man voiced by Elisa Gabrielli. In this version, she is the founder of the Ravencroft Institute and therapist just like before in the comics. She treats many criminally insane supervillains, such as Electro, Cletus Kasady, and Doctor Octopus.
- Ashley Kafka appears in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, played by actor Marton Csokas. In the film, Kafka is re-imagined as a male German mad doctor and is a leading staff member of the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane, which is controlled by the corrupt corporation known as Oscorp. In the film, he shown to have been conducting inhumane experiments on his patient, Electro, who retaliates by smashing Kafka's glasses and verbally threatening him. Shortly before his removal from Oscorp for a crime he didn't commit, former C.E.O. Harry Osborn discovers that the staff at Ravencroft have been experimenting on the patients. Osborn responds by sneaking into Ravencroft and releasing Electro from his holding cell. During his escape, Electro brutally assaults Doctor Kafka. While it is unknown whether or not Kafka survived Electro's attack, Marton Csokas has expressed interest in reprising his role. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Frayda Kafka, the real life inspiration for Ashley Kafka in the comics, responded negatively to the film's portrayal of the character.
- In the Amazing Spider-Man 2 game (a tie-in to the film), Dr. Kafka appears in the Ravencroft Institute alongside Donald Menken. Kafka is shown to be experimenting on his patient, Cletus Kasady, with the same type of spider venom responsible for giving Peter Parker his powers. The venom inadvertently transforms Kasady into the monstrous Carnage, who grabs Kafka by the throat. That is the last time Kafka is seen in the game.
- Hoffman, Jordan (May 5, 2014). "The Real-Life Inspiration for a Spider-Man Character Reacts to Being Turned Evil...and into a Man". Vanity Fair. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
- Dan Slott (w), Ryan Stegman (a). The Superior Spider-Man 5 (March 2013), Marvel Comics
- Spider-Man & Batman