Deputy Kowalski wasn't part of the New Beulah Police Department for any stretch of time before being assigned to a grizzly auto accident on Highway 18. The bodies were so badly torn apart, the deputy couldn't hold it together, but the sheriff – a friend of Kowalski's uncle – told him to get used to it because there were plenty of accidents on that road. Kowalski felt like he had something to prove, especially because he had some trouble with his job back where he came from, and did some digging into the highway’s history. It brought him to the Wojciehowicz Funeral Home. The director of the funeral home was surprised by the visit, so Kowalski recited the ghastly story concerning Highway 18 and the reports of cannibalism by early settlers who built a town around the road. The director was the last living descendant of the original inhabitants, so the deputy figured he may have known something. The only thing the funeral director knew is what he was having for dinner – Deputy Kowalski!
He cut off the deputy's right hand and planned to take him home and cook the rest of him up. Deputy Kowalski was saved from that horrible fate as he and the funeral director were involved in a four-way car accident, with one of the participants being Ghost Rider. After Ghost Rider finished his own business, he set his sights on the cannibalistic funeral director. Kowalski attempted to intervene and challenged Ghost Rider, determined to bring the man who attacked him to jail and end the curse of Highway 18. The injured deputy even went so far as to stab Ghost Rider which only enraged him further. Kowalski reeked of sin and Ghost Rider gave him the Penance Stare, leaving Kowalski broken in the street. Ghost Rider left with the funeral director and left him with his descendants – the Ghosts of Highway 18 – ending the curse.
Kowalski lost his job, got a claw in place of his hand and turned to the bottle for comfort. He told himself he wasn't the villain that day the Ghost Rider ruined his life. He told himself that the real villain was the cannibal who tried to make a meal out of him. He told himself that no matter how bad he had it, the Ghost Rider was going to get it much worse. Venturing to the liquor store, Kowalski was met by a man who gave him a business card for Michael Badilino, a former acquaintance of Ghost Rider's. The man was a pawn of a being called Zadkiel – an individual who wanted to help complicate Ghost Rider's situation. Kowalski met with Badilino who acquired a special shotgun found near the remains of the burned down home of Caretaker. The shotgun used Hellfire instead of bullets, but Badilino told Kowalski only one with a connection to the Ghost Rider could shoot it. Kowalski fired one round off, paid for the gun and was sent somewhere in the Arabian Desert to wait. Soon enough, Ghost Rider, now known to the former deputy as Johnny Blaze, was in a race for his life against his brother Daniel Ketch – both in their Ghost Rider forms – and Kowalski let loose with his weapon. Blasting Blaze in the chest, he knocked him from his bike, but Kowalski was savagely dismissed by Ketch right before he stole Blaze's power and brought it to Zadkiel. Realizing his mistake, Ketch took some of the power back, and Kowalski was unwittingly given a portion – transforming him into Vengeance!
When Blackout and the Deacon called on Vengeance to aid them in Zadkiel's name, he didn't hesitate to accept their offer. His task was to reach the gateway to Heaven before his enemies and lie in wait for their arrival. The doorway was guarded by the Gun Nuns who held their own until help arrived. Vengeance's partner, the Orb, was easily defeated, but the combined might of two Ghost Riders was needed to put Kowalski down. Once the dust settled and Zadkiel was defeated, Vengeance was bound in chains by the last Gun Nun and forced to guard the gateway, replacing her fallen sisters.