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Forty years before the story in Spectacular Spider-Man #194-196, young Ashley (she was at least 14) used to take care of the house and her mental deficient sister, Norma. Her mother was weak, and couldn't deal with it herself, so Ashley had to do it. When she was nineteen, her mother died. Tired of spending her life taking care of others, Ashley decided to put her sister in an orphanage, and finally take care of herself. Norma died soon after, and Ashley went on to study psychology. But she kept on living other people's problems, and not living her own life. Old habits die hard.
Dr. Kafka was first seen in The Child Within (Spectacular Spider-Man #178-184), J.M. DeMatteis' first story on his fabulous run on Spectacular Spider-Man. She was treating Vermin's psyche, at Reed Richard's request, in Empire State University. Vermin escaped, but he was subsequently captured. During that story she helped Peter/Spider-Man to deal with the childhood trauma of his parents' death, which surfaced with devastating results after an attack by Harry Osborn, the second Green Goblin. Her results with Vermin were extremely positive, and she managed to cure him in Spectacular Spider-Man #194-196, where she also dealt with her own childhood problems. Do not forget that she's at least 54 years old by now.
She tried to treat Harry Osborn, but with no success. The D.A. didn't help, though, since they didn't consider Harry's situation similar to Vermin's, and decided to arrest him without treatment. Eventually, a special high-security facility was created to house the demented criminals, while Dr. Kafka tried to help them. John Jameson was the chief of security and Edward Whelan (former Vermin) was the Doctor's assistant. The facility was Ravencroft Asylum, and it housed villains like Carnage (who escaped several times), Chameleon (who escaped because the Dr. took him to a warehouse to prevent the D.A. of prosecuting him before the end of his treatment), Carrion II and Shriek (who escaped because the Dr. thought it might have been good for the first to see the latter, and the latter became furious due to her relation with the first and broke out... -phew), and lots of other small loons. The Chameleon incident was the last one, which resulted in her and John Jameson being fired, with Dr. Leonard Samson assuming the leadership of Ravencroft's project. This removed Ravencroft from the Spider-Man stories, instead of bringing Samson in, as I (and lots of others) hoped it would.
As for Ashley, some more worthy notes. Approximately since Ravencroft was built, the 50-something year old Doctor became 20 years younger in appearance, and her body became one of a super-model. Ashley also started dating John Jameson during the Chameleon incident, and they have been forgotten ever since (like most of Spider-Man's supporting cast).
Killed by Massacre.
First Appearance: The Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) #178
View a chronological listing of this character's appearances
Carnage: It's a Wonderful Life (1996)
Carnage: Mind Bomb (1996)
Crossover Classics (1991)
Der sensationelle Spider-Man (1998)
#9 Marvel (1988)
- 'Ein neuer Morgen'#19
- 'Es kommt ans Licht!'
Annual '97 Spider-Man (1997)
- 'Dead Men Walking'#57
- 'Aftershocks Part One'#67
- 'Web of Carnage, Part 3 of 4: Who Am I?'
Spider-Man and Batman (1995)
Spider-Man Unlimited (1993)
Superior Spider-Man (2013)
#4 The Amazing Spider-Man (1963)
- 'The Aggressive Approach'
#390 The Sensational Spider-Man (1996)
- 'Shrieking, Part One: Behind the Walls'#391
- 'Shrieking, Part Two: The Burning Fuse'#394
- 'Power & Responsibility, Part 2: Breakdown!'#403
- 'The Trial of Peter Parker, Part 2 of 4: Judgement at Bedlam'#656
#16#17 The Spectacular Spider-Man (1976)
- 'Powerless & Responsibility'
Venom: Carnage Unleashed (1995)
TPB Venom: The Hunted (1996)
- 'Venom: Carnage Unleashed'#1
- 'There Must Be Some Way Out of Here'#2
- 'Said the Joker to the Thief'#4
- 'Can't Get No Relief!!'
Web of Spider-Man (1985)
- 'Final Sanction'#111
- 'Scales of Justice'#112
- 'Pursuit, Part Three: Trail's End'#113
- 'Darkness Descends'#117
- 'Power & Responsibility, Part 1: Shadow Rising'
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