Ashley Kafka

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Ashley Kafka
Ashley Kafka, as she appears in a comic book.png
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance The Spectacular Spider-Man #178, July 1991
Created by J. M. DeMatteis
Sal Buscema
In-story information
Full name Ashley Kafka
Supporting character of Spider-Man

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[1] 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 for the Criminally Insane in New York City, and is a sometime ally of Spider-Man. Her first appearance was in The Spectacular Spider-Man #178 (July 1991) and the appearance of her death came in 2013 during The Superior Spider-Man #4 (April 2013).

Ashley Kafka has appeared in various Spider-Man media and was featured in the 2014 film, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, as a male character portrayed by Marton Csokas.

Publication history[edit]

Ashley Kafka was created by writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Sal Buscema. She first appeared in The Spectacular Spider-Man #178, in July 1991.

Fictional character biography[edit]

Ashley Kafka grew up in New York with her Mother and her sister, Norma, who had been born with severe facial birth defects and was mentally challenged. Kafka looked after Norma while growing up. Kafka struggled to avoid conflict and maintain a somewhat peaceful environment in her household. Their mother died when Kafka was nineteen years old and Norma was left at a psychiatric hospital, where she died a short time later. Kafka then went to college and the Empire State University where she studied psychology and earned a degree.[volume & issue needed]

Kafka goes on to become a professional psychologist specializing in the criminally insane and, under the funding and supervision of the U.S. government, founds a maximum security sanitarium called the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane, in which she treats super-criminals.[volume & issue needed]

During her time at Ravencroft, she treats many criminals. Despite a reluctance to cease treating uncured patients, Kafka has attempted, unsuccessfully, to rehabilitate super-criminals like Carnage, Electro, Vulture, Doctor Octopus, Chameleon and Carrion, all of whom have been in conflict with Spider-Man for years.[volume & issue needed]

When Kafka's success rate comes into question due to the constantly high number of super-villains at the Ravencroft Institute, she is replaced for a time by Leonard Samson as the sanitarium's director. Samson eventually leaves the facility, which saw Kafka return as the head again.[volume & issue needed]

Kafka is killed by Massacre, who rips out one of her eyes to get past a retinal scanner when he attacks the Ravencroft Institute during a breakout attempt.[2]

Other versions[edit]

DC crossover[edit]

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).[3]

MC2[edit]

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[edit]

Television[edit]

  • 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.

Film[edit]

Dr. Ashley Kafka, as he appears in The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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 scientific corporation known as Oscorp. He is 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 reacts by sneaking into Ravencroft and releasing Electro from his holding cell. During his escape, Electro brutally assaults Dr. Kafka, knocking him out. When Kafka regains his consciousness and tries to escape, Electro grabs him and traps him in the same harness where he was held. This harness presumably kills him, due to the electricity it contained and the fact that he was drowning in the water underneath. It is unknown whether Kafka survived this or not, though actor Marton Csokas has expressed interest in reprising his role as the character in future films.[4] In an interview with Vanity Fair, Frayda Kafka, the real life inspiration for Ashley Kafka in the comics, reacted negatively to the film's portrayal of the character.[5]

Video games[edit]

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.

References[edit]

External links[edit]