A ruthless businessman and crimelord, Anton Hellgate was obsessed with thanatology, the study of death. Hellgate carved out a large criminal empire, thanks in part to hi process of creating genetically altered henchmen for sale to the highest bidder. These henchmen were actuall resurrected beings, whose bodies had been altered to grant them superhuman abilities. Programmed for abolute loyalty, Snowblind, Dead, Rak and Ripper (Hellgate's servants) were all product of his experiments.
Hellgate first came to notoriety when he sent Dread to assassinate several members of the New York City police force. Vengeance intervened, capturing Dread and becoming furious when he realized the men being targeted were his former friends. Hellgate, meanwhile, was intrigued by what he saw of Vengeance. He became convinced Vengeance held the key to his ultimate breakthrough in thanatology and began formulating plans to bring the hero into his grasp.