Characters : Kafka, Dr. Ashley
Has rejuvenated and her body became much thinner and sculptural. She also gained height.
5' 7" (Estimated)
160-125 lbs. (Varies with the artist.)
She's a good psychologist.
Her extreme dedication to her patients. It saved Vermin, but he was the only one.
Normal for a middle age woman/normal for a young woman.
Doctorate in Psychology.
Ravencroft Asylum; E.S.U.
Director of the Ravencroft Asylum for the criminally insane
Spider-Man, John Jameson.
John Jameson, Spider-Man and Edward Whelan.
Mother (unnamed, deceased), Norma (sister, deceased)
Shriek, Chameleon, Vermin and Judas Traveller.
Ashley Kafka had always put other people first. She was raised by her mother, although it could be said that she raised her mother. Ashley had a younger sister named Norma, whom had been born with severe facial birth defects and was mentally challenged. Ashley looked after Norma, while their mother accused Norma of being the Devil, come to ruin her life. Ashley took care of Norma's needs, plus all of the housework because her 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 went to college and studied psychology, wanting to "save the world." (Spectacular Spider-Man #196)
Dr. Kafka eventually was employed at New York University, home of many violently insane super criminals. One of her first patients was Edward Whelan, who was known as Vermin. She had been reluctant to take such a case but was persuaded by Reed Richards after Vermin was captured, after Sergei Kravinoff's suicide. Richards thought the path to curing Edward of his mutation into the man-rat was psychological, not physical. She used hypnotherapy to treat Vermin and made substantial progress, until he escaped and returned to the sewers. (Spectacular Spider-Man #178)
Spider-Man went to Ravencroft after Vermin's escape to discuss Edward's case but Vermin returned, looking for Kafka's help. The creature panicked upon seeing Spider-Man and attacked him, despite the webhead's promise that they only wanted to help him. Ashley tried to regain Vermin's trust and was bitten for her efforts. The man-rat escaped. (Spectacular Spider-Man #179) Spider-Man soon returned to Dr. Kafka, this time needing her help for himself. He had been poisoned by one of Green Goblin II's psychedelic pumpkin bombs and was suffering from psychotic delusions. (Spectacular Spider-Man #181) She talked him through the hallucinations, reminding him that he was a man, not a child anymore. As a man, he was strong enough to deal with his inner demons. Upon hearing from a nurse that Vermin had been sighted in Scarsdale, Spider-Man went after him...as did Dr. Kafka. She found him at Edward's parents home, injured after both he and Spider-Man had been attacked by the Green Goblin. After Spidey had saved him from both the Goblin and the police, Dr.Kafka took Vermin back to New York University. (Spectacular Spider-Man #183) Back at the university, Kafka continued treating Edward and was actually happy with the fact that Vermin wanted to kill her. She saw it as a sign that the Vermin personality was weakening and that Edward was getting stronger. (Spectacular Spider-Man #184)
Soon after, Harry Osborn was defeated as the Green Goblin and was sent to NYU, where Kafka became his therapist. (Spectacular Spider-Man #189 and #190) She put on his Goblin mask, trying to convince him of how the mask was holding him back. He attacked her, demanding the mask back but fortunately for her, he was behind shatter proof glass. She claimed that she got the reaction that she wanted from him, but that was a moot point, as detective Angela Cairn arrived to put him into police custody. (Spectacular Spider-Man #190)
Ashley made good progress with Edward, as the transformations into Vermin were becoming less common and had shorter durations. However, he regressed back into Vermin after being kidnapped by the Mutates, other people that had also been experimented on, unsuccessfully, by Baron Zemo. Doctor Kafka was also taken by the deformed creatures into the sewers. (Spectacular Spider-Man #194) The Mutates wanted Vermin to be their leader and to get revenge on Baron Zemo for his cruelty towards them. Kafka tried to reason with Edward, to remind him of his progress and how close he was to being free of Vermin. The man-rat threatened to cut her throat and eat her alive but didn't, as payment for her past kindness. Vermin led the Mutates to the surface, where they encountered Spider-Man. He was overwhelmed by the numbers of the creatures and taken back to the sewers. Zemo then arrived to reclaim his "pets" and used his control device over them to threaten Kafka if Spider-Man attacked him. (Spectacular Spider-Man #195) Even the ever compassionate doctor had a breaking point and she told Spider-Man "Let him take the *#&@ monsters! Let him take them and go!" Edward managed to break free of Zemo's control, thanks for his months of therapy with the doctor. He was about to kill his tormentor when Kafka talked him back from the edge. She even agreed to take in the Mutates at NYU, to find cures for them. Edward also became her assistant. (Spectacular Spider-Man #196)
After Dr. Curtis Connors was sent to the Vault to receive therapy for his transformations into the Lizard, Kafka was assigned to aid him. She made significant progress with him, which was undone when Calypso Ezili broke into the prison to regain her reptilian ally. However, Kafka's sessions with Connors had strengthened his will and despite the change back into the Lizard, the creature's mind was now strong enough to resist Calypso's control over him. The Lizard killed its former master and escaped into the Colorado mountains. (Web of Spider-Man #109)
When she was next seen, Doctor Kafka was the Director of Ravencroft Asylum. Edward was still working with the Mutates and Kafka had taken on two new super powered cases: Malcolm McBride and Frances Louise Barrison. Malcolm had been the mass murderer known as Carrion and the guilt of his murders weighed heavily on him. In an effort to show Malcolm that he wasn't as evil and insane as he thought himself to be, she showed him Frances, who was screaming in her cell. Barrison managed to break out of the Plexiglas cell and took Malcolm with her, throwing Ashley against the wall for good measure. (Amazing Spider-Man #390) When Spider-Man came to see Kafka, Colonel John Jameson (the Head of Security) told him she was in the medical unit with a concussion and two broken ribs. (Amazing Spider-Man #391)
She was soon back to her duties as director and seeing guests, such as Dr. Judas Traveller. Traveller claimed to be studying the nature of evil but his research was much more hands on than he let on. After reading the minds of many of the patients at Ravencroft, he found Spider-Man to be a common factor in their thoughts. Traveller then teleported Dr. Kafka out of the asylum and began his experiment. (Web of Spider-Man #117) She and the rest of the staff were allowed to return to the asylum after Traveller left. (Spectacular Spider-Man #217)
Kafka tried in vain to treat Dr. Miles Warren while he was held at Ravencroft but his refusal to take therapy seriously left her frustrated. She returned her attention to Frances Barrison, whom had adsorbed the Carrion Virus during her previous escape and was nurturing the infection like an unborn child. (Spectacular Spider-Man #223)
Judas Traveller soon returned to Ravencroft and held a trial of Spider-Man, under the belief that the webhead was responsible for the creation of so many super menaces. The jury was made up of the asylum's inmates, including Barrison, McBride and Dmitri Smerdyakov, the Chameleon. The mass murder, Cletus Kasady, acted as prosecution and the faulty clone of Spider-Man known as Kaine represented the defense. Dr. Kafka was helplessly forced to sit in the observational booth. She tried to help Malcolm went he was called to the witness stand, fearing that his fragile state of mind couldn't handle the stress of being cross examined by a psychopath like Kasady. Spider-Man was found guilty of "creating" these super-freaks and was about to be executed by them when they were stopped by Kaine and Traveller, whom set the asylum back to order. (Amazing Spider-Man #403)
Ashley remained the director of Ravencroft and dealt with Kasady, better known as Carnage, on a regular basis. He was an incorrigible threat and resisted every form of therapy she tried with him. Out of desperation, she called in a CIA trained psychologist whose methods she disagreed with to treat Kasady. Matthew Kurtz used a device to painfully separate Kasady form the alien symbiote that gave him his power, then used a mind control serum to get into his mind. The treatment did force Kasady to explain his view of the world in more honest, disturbing detail than he ever had previously but the serum wore off quickly and Dr. Kurtz ended up dead. (Carnage: Mind Bomb) Dr. Kafka again was forced to face Carnage after the alien creature escaped. She demanded to know how it could have gotten past the cell that Col. Jameson had designed himself. (Spider-Man #67) She realized that without the symbiosis with the alien, Kasady's body was atrophying away and the only way to save him was to reunite him with the creature. She was uneasy to aid in re-creating Carnage, but the choice was moot after Spider-Man (Ben Reilly) returned with the alien and needed help to be rid of it. (Spectacular Spider-Man #233)
The final security breach under Dr. Kafka's administration involved the Chameleon, whom Kafka was treating in preparation of his standing trial. Federal agents would soon be arriving to take him to trial and she feared that he wasn't ready for it. "To take him away now--would undo all of the work we've done here. His mind would collapse again. Don't they realize that Ravencroft is the last chance for men like Dmitri? That if Ravencroft fails...the world will pay the price?" Later, she fooled Head of Security Jameson into thinking that Smerdyakov had escaped from his cell, when he had been taken to the asylums basement for the continuation of his treatment. (Spectacular Spider-Man #241)
She was well aware that she could be arrested for what she had done and didn't appreciate his snarky transformations as she spoke with him. He soon convinced her that he was ready to take his therapy seriously, then bashed her head against the wall. (Spectacular Spider-Man #242) After she came to, she found John Jameson unconscious on the Ravencroft grounds, shot by the Chameleon, whom had impersonated her. (Spectacular Spider-Man #243) Back at their security station, Ashley went over all of the information she had gained from him over their months of therapy, including his hideouts and the list of everyone he had ever impersonated. They decided to check all of the listed hideouts but ended up getting captured by Dmitri and held in an electrified cage. (Spectacular Spider-Man #244)
Spider-Man arrived at Kraven's old estate, where John and Ashley were being held, only to be drugged by a dart shot by Alyosha Kravinoff. He ended up in the cage with them and escaped after telling her that Chameleon's freedom, and the injuries he incurred on anyone, was her fault. This snapped her out of her delusion that Dmitri would never really hurt anyone, that she knew him too well. (Spectacular Spider-Man #245) She and John were free, but they were quickly fired from their jobs at Ravencroft by Senator Roeberg, whom had been a friend of Ashley's. Roeberg had called in a lot of favors to reopen Ravencroft for her but Chameleon's escape had been the last straw. (Spectacular Spider-Man #246)
Concurrent to the Chameleon episode, Dr. Kafka was also treating David Kalen for depression and survivor's guilt following his brother's death. Kalen had come to Ravencroft by his own will, meaning that he was free to leave at any time, despite Kafka's belief that he was still too dangerous. She called Spider-Man to talk to him, knowing the respect that Kalen had for him. Kalen still refused to stay and burned his way through a wall in an escape attempt. Spider-Man pulled Ashley to safety and went after Kalen, whom he persuaded to return to his cell. (Sensational Spider-Man #16 and #17) A few days later, Kalen escaped again, using his disintegration powers to burrow through Ravencroft's walls and into a tunnel under the building. Ashley correctly guessed that David planned to use his powers to disintegrate himself in a suicide attempt. (Sensational Spider-Man #18)
John's father, J. Jonah Jameson, had recently been assaulted at the Daily Bugle by Mad Jack (whom had also put hypnotic suggestion in John's mind after he was shot by the Chameleon) and put in the hospital. Ashley and John had become a couple and she went with John to see Jonah. Later, she, John and Marla Jameson went out to lunch, where a black cat rubbed against John's leg. He got up suddenly and walked out of the restaurant, went to the hospital and attempted to smother his father with a pillow. (Spectacular Spider-Man #247) Spider-Man stopped John from killing Jonah but John swore he had no memory of attacking his father. Ashley suggested hypnosis, and while under her influence they found the psychological suggestion that Mad Jack had used to control John. They destroyed the suggestion but that had the side effect of changing John into his mindless alter ego: the Man-Wolf. (Spectacular Spider-Man #248)
The transformation was mental, not physical, so when a half naked John was found prowling the streets by Spider-Man, he was easily subdued. Kafka soon joined with them and took them back to her apartment to finish the hypnosis. (Spectacular Spider-Man #249) Back under her hypnotic influence, John fully transformed into the Man-Wolf. She hypothesized, as Spidey protected her from the Wolf, that John was punishing himself for attacking his father by becoming that which he hated: Man-Wolf. His anger and fear over the course of his life festered in his subconscious, feeding the Man-Wolf. She persuaded him to let go of his negative feelings and he changed back to John. (Spectacular Spider-Man #250)
The good doctor recently made a cameo in video form, giving background information on a former patient, Marcus Lyman, aka Massacre. (Amazing Spider-Man #655) Lyman turned out to be her undoing, as he killed Dr. Kafka and other doctors during an escape. He took one of her eyes to get past the retina scanner security system. Spider-Man (Octavius) swore to avenge her death. (Superior Spider-Man #4)
Here is the Full Appearance List (35 Apps) for Kafka, Dr. Ashley.
The assistance of the Marvel Chronology Project is gratefully acknowledged.
Some of the above information is extracted from the various versions of the Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe and the more recent Marvel Encyclopaedias.