The amphibious superhuman mercenary Orka is a member of the water-breathing Homo Mermani race, often called Atlanteans since their leading civilization is the undersea kingdom Atlantis. In modern times, Atlantis has often been ruled by the royal-born, half-human hybrid warrior Namor the Sub-Mariner; however, the ruthless warlord Krang
has repeatedly sought to seize the Atlantean throne. One of Krang's most slavishly loyal followers was Orka, a markedly large and strong but simple-minded soldier. When Krang was banished from Atlantis for treason, Orka sought him out in a stolen cruiser and offered to help Krang attack Atlantis with it, but Krang had grander goals. Planning an alliance with barbarian chieftain Attuma
, Krang and Orka began gathering treasure to fund their efforts when they stumbled upon the undersea fortress of brilliant criminal scientist Doctor Lemuel Dorcas. An old enemy of Namor, Dorcas formed an alliance with Krang bent on conquering both Atlantis and the surface world, and Krang agreed to let Dorcas use Orka as an experimental test subject.
Having re-created the procedure which empowered the rogue amphibious superhuman Tiger Shark
, Dorcas believed that Orka's limited intelligence made him an ideal candidate for this process since he was less likely to rebel against his benefactors. Dorcas subjected Orka to a series of painful electro-shocks and irradiations which gradually enhanced his physiology, culminating in Orka's mutation by a "morphotron" device, which imprinted Orka with the genetic traits of a group of killer whales. Far stronger than before (and able to augment that strength further with a power-absorbing belt linked to Dorcas' machines), Orka could now breathe in both air and water as well as communicate with and command whales.
While Orka tested his new powers alongside an army of whales specially treated to survive long periods without air, Dorcas and Krang plotted the conquest of Atlantis. When Namor stumbled upon their operation, Orka twice defeated him and the criminals enslaved Namor using a special control collar. As further insurance, Dorcas and Krang also held hostage several Atlanteans, including Namor's beloved Dorma
and advisor Vashti. After the captives escaped, Krang ordered Orka to retrieve Dorma (whom Krang had long coveted) and kill the rest. Orka's whales pursued the escapees, killing all but Dorma and Vashti until Tiger Shark happened upon the scene and defeated the whales, saving the two survivors. Tiger Shark then promised to save Atlantis from Krang's forces in exchange for Dorma's reluctant vow that she would marry him. When Krang, Dorcas, Orka and their whale army attacked Atlantis with Namor as their prisoner, Tiger Shark led the Atlantean army against them. During the conflict, Namor freed himself and Orka clashed with Tiger Shark, a battle so destructive that a huge fissure opened in the ocean floor and swallowed them both. The cowardly Krang and Dorcas had already fled by that time, and Orka's now-leaderless killer whales dispersed.
Months later, the rampaging extra-dimensional tyrant Virago accidentally freed Orka, who no longer felt any loyalty to Krang after his commander's desertion. Aspiring to conquer Atlantis and the surface world on his own behalf, Orka teamed with Virago and an army of whales to attack Atlantis again, fighting the Sub-Mariner and Namor's extraterrestrial ally Tamara Rahn
. The battle progressed in Orka's favor, but as he and Virago declared victory, Namor accidentally collided with a sunken U.S. navy vessel containing experimental nerve gas. The gas escaped and rendered almost all Atlanteans comatose, including Orka.
Gradually reviving due to his enhanced physiology, Orka was recruited by Roxxon Oil
president Hugh Jones, who had fallen under the influence of the supernatural Serpent Crown
. Jones turned Orka over to Roxxon subsidiary the Brand Corporation, whose mutagenic procedures cured the lingering effects of the nerve gas, further augmented Orka's strength, eliminated the need for mechanical devices to further enhance his power, and tripled his size and the thickness of his blubber. The larger, mightier Orka was held in reserve as a secret weapon until Jones' agenda brought him into conflict with the heroic Avengers
. When the Avengers stormed Brand's headquarters, Orka single-handedly felled most of them; however, even Orka's increased power was no match for a fighting-mad Thor
, who finally beat Orka into submission and free his fellow Avengers.
Years later, when Attuma rose to power in Atlantis and led a massive invasion of the surface world, Orka was part of the invading Atlantean army; however, he ran afoul of the Avengers again, and was subdued by the Black Panther and She-Hulk. Somehow reduced to roughly his original size, Orka was imprisoned in Colorado's Vault super-prison and tried to escape during a mass breakout staged by the Wizard
, but Iron Man
subdued him. Apparently slipping away during the ensuing confusion, Orka was soon among the many random villains manipulated by Doctor Doom's Aggression Enhancer device into attacking the Fantastic Four
and was quickly defeated. Reunited with Krang and restored to gigantic size, Orka aided him in a complex fraud scheme foiled by the She-Hulk. Sent back to the Vault, Orka tried to escape again during a mass breakout led by Venom, but the Avengers intervened and Doctor Pym recaptured Orka.
Eventually escaping, Orka returned to an Atlantis devastated and sparsely populated since Attuma's disastrous war. He became a leading figure in the Atlantean army alongside Meranno
, Tyrak and others. When a three-way clash between the Avengers, Russian super-agents the People's Protectorate and the Peace Corpse terrorist group spilled into Atlantean waters, Orka and his fellow soldiers attacked the intruders. As the surface-dwellers departed, Orka and company pursued them to Newfoundland, intent on avenging their people's honor and restoring their pride by striking back at the surface world. The Atlanteans clashed with the Avengers, the People's Protectorate and Canadian super-team Alpha Flight
until one of the nuclear bombs detonated and all factions were forced to cooperate to survive. During this conflict, they also battled the Combine, a collective entity formed by a merger of irradiated Peace Corpse terrorists, until it achieved enlightenment and departed peacefully. The Atlanteans, too, were allowed to depart, with promises of aid for rebuilding their ruined nation.
Recruited by a robotic duplicate of the late Dr. Dorcas who believed himself to be the real Dorcas, Orka was subjected to procedures that made him larger and stronger than ever, though the transformation further retarded his intelligence. As the robot's gigantic pawn, Orka battled Stingray
and Namor, who defeated both Orka and the robot and freed the robot's captive, Stingray's wife Diane Newell. Incarcerated at the Vault again, Orka was again reduced in size and was recaptured by the Thunderbolts
during an attempted mass breakout. Eventually on the loose once more, Orka teamed with Killer Shrike
and Whiplash to take over retired aircraft carrier Intrepid as part of an extortion scheme, but mercenary super-team Heroes for Hire
defeated and captured them. Orka fared no better in a subsequent solo outing, apprehended through the combined efforts of Nova
and Namor's cousin Namorita
. When Attuma usurped the throne of Atlantis again during one of Namor's absences, he recruited Orka, Tiger Shark, Nagala
and Sea Urchin to help him retain power; however, Namor returned with his surface world allies the Defenders
, and Attuma's forces were defeated after two fierce battles. During the final conflict, Orka and the monstrous Hulk
were locked in a grudge match to the exclusion of all else, still fighting each other outside Atlantis long after Namor's victory.
During a recent surface world excursion, Orka befriended bounty hunters Colleen Wing
and Misty Knight
and their assistant Otis Johnson
while bailing out fellow criminal Stilt-Man. When Knight and Wing formed their new Heroes for Hire team, Orka joined the mercenary group and declared himself reformed, even developing an unspoken crush on Knight; however, his new career ended tragically when the team fought the Headmen
, whose modified Doombot fatally wounded Orka. As he died, the Atlantean confessed his feelings for Knight to teammate Shang-Chi
, who defeated the Headmen and later told Misty that Orka loved her.