||This a comics-related article describes a character in a primarily in-universe style. (October 2009)|
|First appearance||Blaze: Spirit of Vengeance #9 (January 1992)|
|Created by||Howard Mackie|
|Alter ego||Lt. Michael Badilino / Deputy Kowalski|
|Team affiliations||New York Police Department
|Notable aliases||Ghost Rider|
Immune to most Non Magical Attack
Invulnerability to heat and flame
Ability to project regular and ethereal flame
Ability to travel between interdimensional realms and along any surface
Wields magical chain
Rides flaming motorcycle
Vengeance is a fictional American comic book character owned by Marvel Comics. He was initially introduced as an antagonist for the Ghost Rider. Lt. Michael Badilino was the first known person to be host, now the entity is attached to Deputy Kowalski.
Since his debut he has taken on the role of villain, hero and antihero, but he is usually portrayed as the latter. Like Ghost Rider, Vengeance is a Spirit of Vengeance, an entity sent from Heaven to punish sinners. He is one of the last Spirits of Vengeance in existence. Vengeance prefers using corporal punishment on human sinners where Ghost Rider takes a more pacifist approach. It is these different modus operandi that usually places them in conflict.
Fictional character biography
Lt. Michael Badilino
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.[volume & issue needed]
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 unknown to Badilino the power was the dormant portion of the shard of Medallion of Power that was bound to Badilino (one of four shards) and only awakened by Mephisto's actions.[volume & issue needed]
In his superhuman form, Badilino was called Vengeance, and originally attempted to kill Ghost Rider, believing him to be Zarathos. Around this time he became involved in a demonic attack on the Quentin Carnival, a battle that left many innocent people dead.[volume & issue needed]
Eventually, Vengeance was won over to the side of good when he realised that the new Ghost Rider wasn't Zarathos, the one truly responsible for Badilino's hatred. This is spurred on when three demonic entities, children of the demi-goddess Lilith, attack Badilino's police precinct.[volume & issue needed] Frozen with indecision, Badilino sees a young boy in danger of being killed by Blackout. He transforms and saves the child.[volume & issue needed] As part of a plan to combat the forces of Lilith (and in retreating, protect the innocent), Vengeance then teams up with the Nightstalkers, both Ghost Riders, Victoria Montesi and other heroes.[volume & issue needed]
Vengeance would also take on the role of the Ghost Rider and even referred to himself by the name when confronted by Spider-Man.[volume & issue needed] This is shortly after the apparent death of Ghost Rider (Daniel Ketch) in battle with Zarathos and his acolytes, The Fallen.[volume & issue needed]
Vengeance became involved with Venom (Eddie Brock) during the latter's involvement with a group of underground homeless in California. Several of the homeless people had been taken hostage by a group of mercenaries called 'Stalkers'. The mercs had merged with ancient alien technology and were soon overcome by the alien's desires to hunt for sport. In order to save the lives of two hostages (the others were released to facilitate the sport), Vengeance and Venom were forced through a technologically created portal; it was set to a random spot on Earth. 
The two ended up in a South American jungle. Vengeance summons his mystical bike but since the two were so far away from where they had been, it would take some time. The two cooperated, using tricks and teamwork to destroy all but one of the aliens. An unlucky group of drug smugglers were caught in a literal crossfire and were seemingly killed, not that Venom or Vengeance actually cared. The bike finally arrived and the two headed back to America to rescue the hostages, who had been temporarily freed by other means, only to get into more trouble. 
Upon the return of Ghost Rider, Vengeance leaves New York and re-joins a special governmental task force. One of their first missions is stop a group of terrorists and rescue their hostages. Badilino finds the hostages are all dead. Badilino transforms into Vengeance and suffers a mental break, setting out to kill anyone who had done but the smallest of sins. Vengeance's actions are 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 is out of control, kills himself, along with the villain Hellgate, by triggering a massive explosion through his hellfire.[volume & issue needed]
Badilino's suicide meant he was damned to Hell for all eternity, where his punishment is eternal stinging by scorpions. Vengeance is later discovered by Daniel Ketch and Naomi Kale in Hell. After being freed, Vengeance reappears in the last four issues of Ghost Rider, where he is involved in Blackheart's plans to kill Noble Kale. He aids the Ghost Rider in the ensuing battle, resulting in Blackheart's destruction. Noble Kale, now the new ruler of Hell, then asks Vengeance to aid him in governing it.[volume & issue needed]
At some point Badilino managed to separate himself from the Vengeance entity and returned to Earth alive. After his tenure as a Spirit of Vengeance he became a collector of artifacts linked to Ghost Riders and managed to claim Blaze's hellfire shotgun to which he sold to an ex-cop named Kowalski.[volume & issue needed] Badilino claims to have obtained it from the Caretaker's burnt down shack, where it wasn't even singed. He states that anyone with a connection to the Ghost Rider can use the gun. He then witnesses Kowalski accidentally destroy a wall when he pulls the trigger.[volume & issue needed]
Deputy Kowalski was a normal cop in a small town until Ghost Rider rode in one day. It was then that Kowalski's world was turned upside down. He was kidnapped by a local cannibal who cut off his hand. Events would transpire which led to Kowalski escaping and developing a wrath against the Ghost Rider. His attention was brought to the hellfire shotgun in possession of Badilino. After purchasing the gun—and discovering to Badilino's surprise that it will work for Kowalski—Kowalski was recruited by agents of Zadkiel and told to wait in the middle of the desert for the Ghost Rider. Johnny Blaze (as Ghost Rider) did arrive in hot pursuit of Danny Ketch (as a new incarnation of Ghost Rider). Kowalski did manage to get a shot in on Blaze. Although it was a minor setback Blaze resumed his pursuit of Ketch. Left in the desert Kowalski soon found himself transformed into the new Vengeance, sporting green flames and a hook for his right hand, after Ketch returned the powers of the Spirits of Vengeance to Earth.[volume & issue needed]
With a thirst for revenge Kowalski as Vengeance was recruited by Blackout as a member of Zadkiel's Ghost Rider revenge squad. Kowalski was partnered with The Orb and was to stop Blaze and Ketch from reaching a monastery which contained a gateway to Heaven. Kowalski was easily defeated by both Ghost Riders and was left as a pet with the monastery's Mother Superior.[volume & issue needed]
Powers and appearance
Being a Spirit of Vengeance, he possesses exactly the same powers as Ghost Rider. He was characterized by his skull being deep purple, and multiple spikes protruding from his skeleton. He can detach some of these and use them as weapons. Vengeance has a slightly different appearance in the Ghost Rider video game. His Skull is no longer purple but still retains the protruding spikes. He has a more demonic look with his rib cage popping out of his chest. His Cycle is slightly different in that it has a dragon head skull instead of a normal skull. His Bone Chain is also a little different.
Vengeance's powers come from a shard of the "Medallion of Power" that has been bound to him since his birth. It is a common misconception that Badilino possesses half of the medallion (two parts of the existing four, both his own and the one originally belonging to his sister.) In replies to reader letters in one of the issues of the second volume of Ghost Rider, it was explained that Vengeance only possesses a single part of the artifact (i.e. one fourth.)
Ultimate Comics: Avengers introduced Robert "Bobby" M. Blackthorne, the leader of a vicious Devil worshipping biker cult murdered the Blazes: John and Roxanne 20 years ago on a cross country road trip is actually now the Vice President of the United States. On hearing the Ghost Rider is coming to collect, he makes a deal with the Devil to become Vengeance. He is later defeated by the Rider and killed by Punisher.
In other media
- A Vengeance action figure was created in the Ghost Rider movie toyline
- A Vengeance action figure also appears as part of the Marvel Legends Legendary Riders series complete with motorcycle.
- Vengeance appears as an 'alternate outfit' for Ghost Rider in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.
- Vengeance appears as a boss in the Ghost Rider video game (based on the 2007 film) voiced by Steven Blum. He becomes a playable character once the game is beaten on Easy mode for the PS2. On the PSP version, he can be unlocked by earning all skulls in Story Mode and Challenge Mode.
Notes and references
- Howard Mackie (w), Ron Lim (p), Al Milgrom (i). Venom: Nights of Vengeance #1-4 (August-November 1994), United States: Marvel Comics
- Secret Avengers #21.1
- "Vengeance 3D Model". Marvel Comics. Retrieved 2007-03-11.
- Ultimate Comics Avengers 2 #3 (Aug 2010)
- Ultimate Comics Avengers 2 #4 (Aug 2010)
- Ultimate Comics Avengers 2 #5 (Sept. 2010)
- Ultimate Comics Avengers 2 #6 (Sept. 2010)
- "Ghost Rider cheats". GameFAQs. Retrieved 2007-02-28.