When Zarathos' hellfire (the source of the mystical flames that encompass the bones of both Vengeance and Ghost Rider) caused serious psychological damage to a police officer named Badilino, he went on to kill his wife, daughter and himself, leaving only his young son, Michael Badilino, alive. With his sister's death, Michael inherited both quarters of the "Medallion of Power" that had been entrusted to his family millennia ago by The Blood. During his twenties, Badilino joined a special task force in the army but left to join the New York City police force, after the "death" of Anton Hellgate. Eventually, Badilino was promoted to lieutenant.
Michael Badilino was created by Howard Mackie and Ron Wagner; and first appeared in Ghost Rider Vol.2 issue 21 (1992). But his Vengeance alter-ego was created by Howard Mackie and Adam Kubert; and first appeared in Ghost Rider/Blaze: Spirits of Vengeance issue 9 (1993). Recently, a new Vengeance named Kowalski appeared in the Ghost Rider stories.
Mayor Story Arcs
When Daniel Ketch became the new Ghost Rider, Michael Badilino believed him to be the same demon that had destroyed his family. He led a task force to destroy Ghost Rider, but failed repeatedly to do so. In frustration, he turned to Mephisto, trading his soul in exchange for the power to destroy the Ghost Rider. Mephisto made the deal, but only unlocked Badilino's inner strength using the "Medallion of Power". In his superhuman form, Badilino was called Vengeance, and originally attempted to kill Ghost Rider, believing him to be Zarathos. Eventually, Vengeance was won over to the side of good when Ghost Rider was proven not to be the demon Zarathos, the one truly responsible for Badilino's hatred.
At this point, after defeating Centurious with Ghost Rider and Blaze, he would later join the Midnight Sons forcibly after the Lilin attacked the police station he was in. He would then fight the final battle with the Midnight Sons against Zarathos and the Fallen.
Vengeance would also take on the role of the Ghost Rider and even semi-seriously referred to himself by the name when confronted by Spider-Man, shortly after the apparent death of Ghost Rider in battle with Zarathos and his acolytes, The Fallen.
Vengeance partnered with Venom when Venom got involved with some underground homeless people are taken hostage by the Stalkers, a group of mercenaries using alien technology. In order to save two hostages, the two of them were sucked into a portal that brought them to South America. There they killed the Stalkers and a group of drug smugglers, which was caught in the conflict. After that, Vengeance summoned his motorcycle and he and Venom leave to come back in California to check up on the hostages.
Upon the return of Ghost Rider, Vengeance left New York, and re-joined a special governmental task force. One of their first missions was to free hostages, and stop the terrorist. When they found the hostages, Badilino was shocked to discover that the hostages had already been murdered prior to their arrival. Badilino transformed into Vengeance and went insane, setting out to kill anyone who had done but the smallest of sins. Vengeance's actions were brought to the attention of Ghost Rider and Blaze and they immediately set out to show Vengeance the error of his ways or destroy him. Badilino however, realizing that his alter ego Vengeance was out of control, he killed himself, along with the villain Hell gate, by triggering a massive explosion through his hellfire.
Long time no see
Badilino's death meant that he was damned to Hell for all eternity, where his punishment was eternal stinging by scorpions. Vengeance was discovered by Daniel Ketch, and Naomi Kale in Hell, while they were on a mission. After being freed by Dan and Naomi, Vengeance reappeared in the last four issues of Ghost Rider Vol. 2, involved in Blackheart's plans to kill Noble Kale. Vengeance aided the Ghost Rider in the ensuing battle, and Blackheart was destroyed. After that, Noble Kale asked if he could help him govern Hell with him.
Michael makes his return to the Ghost Rider comics in issue #30. He is shown selling Johnny Blaze's old hellfire shotgun to an amputee named Kowalski who seeks vengeance on Johnny Blaze for his condition. Badlino mentions that the shotgun can only be fired by those with a connection to the Ghost Rider. Kowalski proceeds to blow a hole in the wall with the shotgun...
- Gender: Male
- Height: 6'4" (as Badilino), 7' (as Vengeance)
- Weight: 250 lbs. (as Badilino), 360 lbs. (as Vengeance)
- Eyes: Brown (as Badilino), none (as Vengeance)
- Hair: Black (as Badilino), none (as Vengeance)
- Identity: Secret identity
- Occupation: Police detective
- Known Relatives: Father, mother and sister (Badilino family, deceased)
The powers that Vengeance possesses are more in line with those of the original version of Ghost Rider, though he did possess the Penance Stare and his motorcycle has a dragon skull in its design; and also seemed to share characteristics with the version used by Noble Kale. He was characterized by his skull being deep purple, fangs protruding from his upper jaw and large spike protrusions with a backswept curve on the top of his skull.
Kowalski has the same powers and look. However, Kowalski's skull is black and has a hook for a hand. Also he projects more of a green flame.
- Vengeance appeared as an alternate costume for Ghost Rider in Marvel Ultimate Alliance.
- In the video game adaptation of the first Ghost Rider movie, Vengeance appeared as the main servant of Mephisto. He was sent to collect Johnny Blaze and bring him to hell and then kill Roxanne, Johnny's lover. Ghost Rider caught Vengeance using his hell-cycle and then killed Vengeance with his Penance Stare. He was voiced by Steve Blum.
- Vengeance was featured in ToyBiz's Ghost Rider line in the 90s.
- ToyBiz also released a deluxe 10-inch Vengeance figure.
- Vengeance was featured in ToyBiz's Ghost Rider: Cycles & Riders line.
- Vengeance appeared in the Marvel Legends line from ToyBiz as part of the Legendary Riders wave. The figure included Vengeance's demonic motorcycle as an accessory.
- Vengeance was featured in Hasbro's action figure line for the live-action Ghost Rider movie.