In a time before Atlantis the demon Zarathos sought a mystical talisman called the Medallion of Power. This Medallion and humanity itself, was protected by a powerful group of being known as the Blood. Also opposing Zarathos were mysterious beings of power called the Spirits of Vengeance, who sought to guard humanity against the Dark times Zarathos would bring. The two sides battled over the Medallion, with many of the Blood shifting allegiance to Zarathos. After the Spirits' sacrificed caused Zarathos' defeat, the Blood realized that the Medallion which contained fallen Spirits' power, was too powerful to retained in one piece. The man known only as Caretaker shattered the Medallion into four separated pieces. The four quarters of the Medallion were to given to two human families, with a lineage of one male and one female in each family inheriting a quarter. Two of these fragments were passed on through generations and eventually unwittingly inherited for Johnny Blaze and his sister, Barbara Ketch.
Michael joined the Marines and served in the special Forces before following in his father's footsteps as a police officer in Harlem. With his partner Jeffery Piper, Badilino witnessed many of the superhuman battles that took place in the city, including the Human Torch and Iceman's defeat of Equinox. Under unrevealed circumstances, Michael's father ran afoul of Ghost Rider (a Zarathos-possessed Johnny Blaze), who showered the man in hellfire. Driven mad by this , the elder Badilino murdered his wife and daughter before being placed in an asylum. Michael (now unknowingly inheriting both of his family's quarter's of the Medallion) continued his work as a cop, albeit with the guilt in a more bloodthirsty fashion, but was shot in a drug bust gone awry. He eventually recovered and transferred to the criminal investigations unit in Brooklyn. As time passed, Badilino became consumed with gaining vengeance on Ghost Rider for what happened to his family, and when Ghost Rider appeared in Brooklyn, Lieutenant Badilino volunteered to put together a task force to track him down.
Unbeknownst to Michael, this was new Ghost Rider: Dan Ketch, brother of Johnny Blaze and recipient of the quarter of the Medallion intended for his sister when she was seriously wounded. Nevertheless, Badilino hounded the vigilante relentless, often disregarding the law and the welfare of the others in his pursuit. As he failed time and time again to capture Ghost Rider, his lust for revenge grew out of control. During a battle that pitted Ghost Rider against Suicide, Heart Attack, and Death Ninja, Badilino ordered the use of stolen experimental laser cannon to stop the fight. Ghost Rider survived and knocked the officer to the ground before leaving. Frustrated, Badilino gave in to his desire for personal revenge and made a deal with the demon-lord Mephisto to grant him the power to kill his adversary. While Mephisto claimed to imbue Badilino with demonic abilities, turning him into the antithesis of Ghost Rider, he actually just released the long-dormant Medallion powers Badilino had inherited. As Vengeance, Badilino attacked Ghost Rider and his ally Johnny Blaze (long since separated from Zarathos) time and time again. Repeatedly defeated, Badilino remained unaware that Blaze was the one he truly sought.
Badilino switched sides and allied with Ghost Rider, even taking his place for a short time, during which he fought alongside Spider-Man and Venom. Once the real Ghost Rider returned, Badilino joined a special task force, taking him out of New York. However, his powers would get the better of him, causing him to lose control - leading up to his suicide. Sent to Hell to face eternal punishment, Badilino's torment ended when Blackheart was destroyed.
Sometime later, Badilino is permitted to leave the underworld, free of his Vengeance persona. He is contacted by another former law enforcement official seeking revenge on Johnny Blaze and sells him a Hellfire shotgun he found at the remains of Caretaker's home. He tells the man unless there is a connection to the Ghost Rider, the gun cannot be fired. The buyer shot a hole through Badilino's wall, took his leave and ended up becoming the new Vengeance.