Sir Edmund Dorrance was born and raised in England, gaining extensive experience by serving with the Royal Artillery. Upon his discharge thirty-odd years ago, Dorrance and some colleagues banded together to offer their services as mercenaries. One mission had them aiding rebels on the island nation of Santa Prisca. After sleeping with one of the female rebels, Dorrance was blinded during a firefight. He escaped the island, but the now pregnant woman was not so lucky. She was jailed for Dorrance's crimes and gave birth to a son, who grew up to be known as Bane.
Dorrance settled in Hong Kong to spend time mastering his new condition. He invested his earnings in legitimate businesses, including shipping and electronics, proving to be very successful and becoming a multimillionaire. He used his mercenary contacts and information to also begin a second career, that of a narcotics dealer specializing in heroin.
His approach to that business was ruthless, making him feared. A nickname soon became his alias - King Snake, named for the species known for eating its brethren and being immune to venom. As King Snake, Dorrance formed an organization known as the Ghost Dragons, made up of youths drawn from Macau, Kowloon, and Hong Kong. With success came the desire to branch out, and the Dragons soon had holdings in France and America.
Rather than see Hong Kong turned over to the Chinese, King Snake decided to raze the city. He accessed a plague, developed decades earlier by the Nazis, but the plot was foiled by Robin during his international travels and training. Also entering the picture was Lady Shiva, who accompanied Robin, curious to fight Dorrance, rumored to be the world's deadliest male martial artist. When Robin knocked King Snake out a window, Shiva ordered him to let the villain fall, but the Teen Wonder refused, ending his alliance with Shiva.
Dorrance fell , breaking his back rather than dying. He used his resources to obtain medical treatment that reinforced his spine and allowed him to return to business. He continued to lead a successful double life but abandoned Hong Kong and relocated to Gotham City, establishing a Ghost Dragon base of operations. The Dragons, led by Lynx, took control of Chinatown's criminal activity away from the Lucky Hand Triad. King Snake also chose Gotham so he could exact a measure of revenge against Robin, although each attempt to do so was met with failure. He lost territory, too, when the Triad revolted and hired the Silver MOnkey to tear the Dragons apart.
A survivor, King Snake allied himself with the international terrorist Kobra. When a power struggle erupted within the Kobra Cult, Dorrance seized the opportunity to gain power. He used the cult to access one of Ra's al Ghul's Lazarus Pits and had his eye sight restored. As he readjusted to having vision, he lost a fight with Robin, who had arrived to rescue a friend from the cult. When the fight ended, Dorrance was blinded anew by cobra poison.
Dorrance was blind, the Ghost Dragons were in tatters, his criminal career was exposed, and he was trapped, alone, at the now-abandoned Kobra base. He was at low ebb when Bane finally tracked him down within the mountain retreat. Bane wanted to kill his father for abandoning his mother and letting his son be raised in a hellhole. Instead, Bane let Dorrance live, siding with Batman and Robin as they fought a renewed Kobra Cult, which Dorrance once more tried to control. Dorrance was knocked into a deep crevice and presumed dead.