Eons ago, a group called the Blood fought demons on Earth. When one such threat, Zarathos, rose up in search of the Medallion of Power, the Blood united with the Spirits of Vengeance to stop the demon. They then separated the Medallion itself and transferred it to a pair of bloodlines that resulted in Michael Badilino, Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch. In the modern era, the bloodlines came together when Mephisto manipulated Blaze as Ghost Rider to attack Badilino's father with Hellfire.
The attack did not kill the elder Badilino, but did drive him insane to the point where he killed his wife, children and himself. However, Michael had not been there that day. As such, this military man-turned-New York Police Department officer began his own quest for vengeance against the new Ghost Rider, not knowing it was actually Danny Ketch. He even lead a task force to capture the Spirit of Vengeance, but ultimately made a deal with Mephisto himself to become powerful enough to actually stand up to the Rider, thus Vengeance was born from fire and rage.
Before his supernatural transformation, Michael Badilino served in the military before becoming a police officer, so he had significant training. However, since is human best could not help him achieve his revenge, he made a deal with Mephisto which changed him into a Hellfire-fueled beast designed specifically to gall Ghost Rider, though Caretaker claimed that this was simply an unlocking of his natural abilities stemming from his connection to the Medallion of Power. In addition to being super strong and very difficult to injure, let alone kill, Vengeance can wield Hellfire as a destructive force. He can utilize the spikes and bone chains on his jacket as weapons. His Hellcycle appears to be made of bone with flaming wheels. According to Mephisto, it was infused with innocent blood to attract Vengeance's foe Ghost Rider. Much like his counterpart's bike, Badilino's can defy all laws of physics. Michael's connection to these supernatural forces might seem to ebb and flow over time, but they have also saved him from death and Hell a number of times as well.
The Chain Gang
As a New York cop, Michael Badilino trained a younger officer by the name of Jeff Piper. Along the way, they saw a variety of heroes and villains including Luke Cage and the Punisher, the latter of whom Badilino envied to some extent. Down the line, Badilino lost his family after Mephisto tricked Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze into attacking the family patriarch with Hellfire. This lead him to kill the rest of Michael's family which turned him into not only the sole survivor, but also a total enemy of Ghost Rider.
When Danny Ketch became the new Ghost Rider, Badilino assumed he was the same one who destroyed his family. Michael then lead an N.Y.P.D. task force intent on bringing him in. Proving not up to the task, Badilino made a deal with Mephisto that turned him into the Ghost Rider-like Vengeance. In this new form, he eventually made peace with Ketch, Blaze and Caretaker and became a part of the Midnight Sons. During his time as Vengeance, he fought the likes of Lilith, Zarathos, Anton Hellgate, and others. Briefly, he served as the fill-in king of Hell at Noble Kale's command. Down the line and back on Earth, Badilino sold the Hellfire shotgun to a former cop by the name of Kowalski who would use it in service of Zadkiel and become the new Vengeance for a brief time. Recently, in Hell, Vengeance worked with Hellgate and Skinner to escape, but punished his partners for their sins.
After serving in the Marines and Special Forces, Michael Badilino became a police officer like her father before him. He worked the Harlem beat for a time with rookie cop Jeff Piper. Together they witnessed all manner of super powered dust-ups, but Michael seemed to appreciate the Punisher and his methods the most. He and Piper were not partners for long, but remained friends as Badilino made Detective and eventually Lieutenant under Captain Dolan. At some point during Johnny Blaze's tenure as the Zarathos-possessed Ghost Rider, Mephisto tricked him into attacking Michael's father with Hellfire that drove him to kill his wife and daughter, this instilling a deep hatred for the Ghost Rider in Michael.
After Danny Ketch became the new Ghost Rider, Badilino was put in charge of a task force to bring him in. He put together a hard-edged team that would do just about anything to find their prey. Dolan was not totally comfortable with the group's use of excessive force. Early on in the campaign he actually met Danny Ketch in his civilian identity as he was meeting his girlfriend Stacy Dolan at the precinct. Later that night, Badilino and his men put the pressure on every criminal they could find in hopes they would call when they saw the Rider.
Badilino and his men soon tracked Ghost Rider to a warehouse used by super powered drug dealer Snowblind. The Spirit of Vengeance easily swatted the officer away and left, but Michael shot Snowblind after he gave up what little information he had. Later, the officer and his team rounded up some ninjas taken out by the Rider and brutally interrogated them. They were interrupted by an attack from Deathwatch, Troll, and Hag, but Badilino and his squad held their own.
On another night, Badilino and his crew caught up to the Spirit of Vengeance, Caretaker and Johnny Blaze, surrounding them all in a mausoleum. Caretaker managed to smash Michael in the face with his trusty shovel and sneak the others out through a secret tunnel. Tired of being outgunned, Badilino pulled a former A.I.M. scientist named Myron out of federal prison so that he could build weapons to help take the Rider out.
While stewing over his repeated failures to capture Ghost Rider, Michael was ambushed by Heart Attack and some of her minions. During the dust-up, the lieutenant got word of Ghost Rider's location and managed to escape. On the way, he grabbed Myron and his weapon which worked to incapacitate Suicide and Ghost Rider, however Caretaker once more appeared to hit Michael with a shovel, delaying his revenge yet again.
Through unknown dark dealings, Michael eventually agreed to sell his soul to Mephisto for a chance at revenge on Ghost Rider. The devil's design for Vengeance was created as a direct mockery of the Spirit of Vengeance. As Mephisto said, "Your skeleton will be of the deepest black. A color to match your soul. You will ride a motorcycle as he does. A motorcycle infused with the blood of the innocent he holds so dear. Its very existence will be a cancerous sore to the Ghost Rider's being." Caretaker would eventually claim that the demon simply unleashed Badilino's Medallion of Power abilities, but the veracity of his claims have come into question over the years.
In this new form, Badilino watched as Steel Vengeance and Steel Wind attacked the Quentin Carnival, but then made his presence known, telling the Rider he intended to make him suffer before killing him. Ketch tried explaining that he had nothing to do with Zarathos, but Vengeance assumed he was lying. He may have even succeeded in killing the Ghost Rider had one of the carnival members not blasted him and the other attackers away with a mysterious force.
Before he could get back to the Rider, Vengeance was ordered by Mephisto to kill Caretaker, explaining that his blood would lead Vengeance to Ghost Rider. Their fight ended in an explosion, but not death. He then caught back up to Ketch and Blaze and had the opportunity to take the Medallion of Power that Mephisto wanted, but instead decided to seek his own revenge. This time, however, his assault was stymied by a portal created by Quinn McIntyre that sent him to the mountainside monastery of a group of warrior monks. He soon escaped and got back to his foes. During his ensuing attack, Blaze used the Hellfire shotgun to knock Vengeance out and turn him back into his human form. Though he was left behind by the others, Michael was approached by Caretaker who said he would help him figure out how to change back and forth between his forms.
During Zarathos' new quest for the Medallion of Power, Caretaker managed to bring Vengeance, Ghost Rider and Blaze together to explain their shared history. When the Spirits of Vengeance proved too rowdy, Caretaker turned them back into their human forms and then explained their shared connection to the Medallion of Power and Zarathos. This conversation also lead to Caretaker's claim that Mephisto did not actually grant Badilino any powers, but instead simply unlocked his abilities as related to the Medallion of Power.
Between battles against Zarathos and his forces, Vengeance turned back into Michael and reported to his precinct for the first time in a month. Vengeance later fought Blackout, helped banish Lilith through a portal and dealt with the Fallen, rogue members of the Blood. Ultimately, Ghost Rider Danny Ketch sacrificed himself in the process of stopping Zarathos. Along the way, Badilino made peace with the fact that Ketch was not the Ghost Rider who destroyed his family.
With Danny out of the picture, Vengeance decided to take his place and become a protector even if it meant making his supposed master Mephisto angry. He also made a point to collect Danny's remains for a proper burial. During this time he encountered Wolverine, Typhoid Mary, Spider-Man, and Hulk. He also helped Blaze and Cardiac take down a child slavery ring posed as a charitable organization. Before long he was even being chased down by his own task force. Everything changed for him when he realized that a criminal named Dread was working for his old enemy Anton Hellgate.
Badilino found that playing the good guy could be far more complicated than simply seeking vengeance. He worked again with the Midnight Sons, failed to protect Lt. Rebecca Taylor, played a part in the creation and death of Phantome and mixed it up with an incredibly powerful little girl by the name of Diabolique, Salome, and a gris-gris man. After Danny returned as Ghost Rider, Hellgate approached Badilino and attacked him. He managed to get away to try and warn Ketch and Blaze, but was transported away by the villain before he ambushed the brothers.
Hellgate kept Michael attached to machines constantly testing and experimenting on him. After Ghost Rider and Shriker saved him from being dissected, he said he was leaving New York, having already quit the force.
The Downward Spiral
Badilino began working with Agent Uno's Paranormal Law Enforcement Team task force to eliminate super human threats, specifically Hellgate, all while keeping his Vengeance identity a secret. Together they traveled out to San Francisco in search of Hellgate. While chasing down a lead, Badilino met Venom. When the Stalkers attacked, he transformed into Vengeance to help his new symbiote friend. Together they began tracking the Stalkers -- who had been possessed by aliens -- as well as the people they kidnapped. Vengeance and Venom worked well together and came to respect one another as they solved the problem.
Michael would go on to develop a friendship with Rebecca Taylor, fight Psiphon and encounter an East L.A. gang that wore masks of his face and called themselves the Revengers. Eventually they went too far and drew the attention of War Machine. The Avenger mistook Vengeance as their leader, but he actually traveled there with Uno's task force to put a stop to them. Eventually, Diabolique killed Rebecca though it was made to look like Vengeance did the deed by the evil Reverend Nice. At that point, Vengeance sought to punish any evildoers he could find.
Badilino, Uno and their crew returned to New York where they fought the Hand in Queens. Michael lost control and turned into Vengeance in front of them so he could kill the ninjas as well as the agents all while saying penance was unachievable. Uno was badly burned in the process but survived long enough to explain what happened.
Blaze, Ketch and Stacy Dolan followed Vengeance's trail to Atlantic City where they ran into not only Vengeance, but also Hellgate and his crew Rak, Dread and Ripper. During the ensuing fight with the Rider, Vengeance explained that the guilty had to actually want penance, not have it forced on them and that their only real duty was to punish the guilty. During the fight, after Vengeance used his Penance Stare on Ketch and pulled out his guilt, Blaze snuck up and shot him with the Hellfire shotgun. When he turned back into Michael, Johnny thought about killing him, but Danny stopped that. Badilino begged Stacy to kill him, but she could not pull the trigger. When Hellgate returned to the fight, Vengeance decided to punish himself after Ketch, Blaze and Dolan escaped, blowing himself up along with the villains.
In and Out of Hell
Badilino found himself in Blackheart's realm after the explosion. The demon offered him the chance to return to life as Vengeance. In response, Michael spit in his face and went back to his damnation. When Ketch was separated from his Spirit of Vengeance he found Badilino in Blackheart's realm and freed him. Vengeance then attacked Blackheart just as Noble Kale became the Angel of Death, defeated Blackheart and took over Hell! Vengeance was stunned when Kale freed the demonic denizens and passed the leadership of the realm to him! Mephisto eventually took Hell back and Badilino managed to make his way to Earth and got a place in Brooklyn.
When he heard about Caretaker's place getting burned down in Tennessee, Michael got his hands on the Hellfire shotgun. Looking to make some extra money, he sold it to Kowalski, a fellow former cop who had a bad run-in with Johnny Blaze not long before. Though it hadn't worked for Badilino, the gun blew a hole in his wall when Kowalski tried it. Michael completed the sale and Kowalski went on to help Zadkiel take control of Heaven and even became the new Vengeance.
Through unknown circumstances, Badilino wound up back in Hell where he was tormented by R'Ack along with Skinner and his old enemy Hellgate. When they were pitted against each other Skinner and Vengeance formed an escape plan using a shard of Ghost Rider's bone that Skinner had been carrying around. Once freed, Vengeance returned to his fiery form and reformed his bike. He then took out some more guards and they left, dragging Hellgate behind on the Hellcycle. Eventually, they used Hellgate as a portal to make their way to Earth. The process merged Vengeance and Skinner's memories. In the process, Badilino experienced Skinner's memories, realized he killed his own family and murdered him. Vengeance then road off, looking to find his new place on the mortal plane.