Supervisor, Joint Operations Executive Joseph Gibson (AKA Super Joe) is an important character in the Bionic Commando series. He is the playable hero from four Capcom titles: Commando, MERCS, Speed Rumbler, and the arcade version of Bionic Commando. Although he was the main character in each of these games, he had very little personality or dialog. It wasn't until the later in the Bionic Commando series that he would be given a memorable role.
In the NES, Game Boy, and Elite Forces versions, Joe is given an important supporting role. At first he plays the part of a P.O.W. who must be rescued. Once saved, he becomes a valuable informant who has learned a great deal of information regarding the enemy's plans and gives you a new gun. Later in each game, he is a helpful ally who proves himself to be a competent soldier by attacking the enemy troops.
In 1985 the arcade release of Commando came out. The main character was not named anywhere on the arcade machine or in the game itself, however, flyers distributed by Capcom do refer to him as "Super Joe".
In 1986 the arcade version of Speed Rumbler came out and the main character was named Super Joe in the game's manual.
However, in 1987 when the arcade version of Bionic Commando came out, the character was nameless. Nowhere in the game or the game's documentation is the hero named.
In 1988 the story for the NES version of Bionic Commando called for a hero to be captured. Since it is presumed that Bionic Commando is a pseudo-sequel to Commando, people also assume that the captured hero in the NES version is the same hero as Commando. With the captured hero being named Super Joe, it was then assumed by most that the hero from Commando must be Super Joe, the same hero from Speed Rumbler. Also, since the arcade version of Bionic Commando is viewed as the sequel to Commando, it is assumed that the hero in the arcade version of Bionic Commando is the same as the hero for Commando, thus Super Joe.
The Game Boy version also uses the name "Super Joe".
In the Elite Forces release, Super Joe is renamed to "Commander Joe".
In Bionic Commando: Rearmed, Super Joe is finally given a proper name and the Bionic Commando series' continuity has retroactively changed. His given name is now Joseph Gibson. His nickname "Super Joe" is explained because his official title is "Supervisor , Joint Operations Executive".
Ending the Controversy
Aside from retconning Joe's full name as Joseph Gibson, the team working on the two upcoming titles has finally settled the longstanding controversy as to whether or not the Super Joe of the Bionic Commando series and the Super Joe from Commando and other titles are one and the same.
In both the History subpage of the Classic Bionic Commando section (detailing the history of the series) as well as Super Joe's profile page, it is mentioned that Super Joe is, in fact, the hero from Commando- as well as its sequel, MERCS (although, notably, there is absolutely no mention of Speed Rumbler, though whether its omission is intentional or an oversight is unknown).
As such, the character's story (scant as it is) from this era is now confirmed as Bionic Commando canon.
In his original appearance, Super Joe is not given much more backstory than that he is a specially-trained soldier sent in on a behind-the-lines, one-man assault on an unnamed enemy nation, armed only with a machine gun and grenades, in order to bring them down and also rescue allied P.O.W.'s.
In the arcade version you play as Super Joe. He has spiky blue hair, and a bionic arm that is an arm attachment, not a cybernetic replacement. There is no player dialog, and only his arm swinging and gun shooting is able to give him character as you work your way through the five stages.
With massive retcons involved with the character's backstory in many early arcade titles, the arcade version of Bionic Commando is not left out in the cold. The official site never once refers to Super Joe having a bionic arm- instead, it states that in the arcade game, he used a 'wire gun'; also, Gibson is portrayed as one of the earliest proponents of bionics technology, all of which could perhaps be construed as an attempt to bring the arcade version more in line with established canon.
According to his in-game profile, Joe- who for the first time is given his last name of "Gibson", though he loses the "Super" moniker- is a former Green Beret in the 7th Airborne who has since left the military and become a mercenary, forming the team MERCS along with Howard Powell and Thomas Clarke. It is also mentioned that he is a master of many different kinds of weapons.
In-game, Gibson plays much like his Commando counterpart- as to be expected, as MERCS is that game's official sequel- with the exception that he no longer carries grenades but can now wield such weapons as a Flamethrower, a Rocket launcher, and some weapons that are even more futuristic than typical of the Bionic Commando series, including several beam weapons.
In the NES version, Super Joe is a veteran Federation soldier who wears green military fatigues and has curly blond hair. The prologue explains that he was captured by the Imperial Army while trying to stop them from carrying out the Albatross project. As Rad get closer to rescuing him he is moved deeper and deeper into Imperial territory. You finally rescue him at the end of area 7. There, he explains to you why Hitler is being resurrected. He also tells you how to find his machine gun.
Super Joe is heard in several communiques as well. Before you rescue him he tries to report his location, and after you rescue him you can hear him attacking the enemy soldiers.
Super Joe helps you infiltrate area 12. When you finally escape he is still inside the building as it's about to explode, but you safely rescue him.
Super Joe makes another appearance in the Game Boy version. He is again depicted as a strong veteran soldier who is captured while deep within the Doraize Dukedom. He has long spiky hair, a goatee, and a large scar under his left eye.
Super Joe helps you out with infiltrating the Doraize Army in area 16 by destroying a bridge. You share a couple of communications along the way, and after the Albatross is destroyed Joe gives you the S-APDS gun to destroy Wiseman's helicopter.
This incarnation of the character is known as Commander Joe, and is a veteran hero of Karinia. As in the previous versions of the story, he is the first to be sent into battle when his nation is attacked--in this version by the Avars--and is captured, necessitating rescue before his neck is severed by the Executioner's blade.
Once freed, he aids the player by revealing all he knows about the Albatross, and also, as revealed in the ending sequence, places explosive charges that take out the Albatross once and for all.
In this incarnation, he is given the full name "Super" Joseph Gibson, and his exploits in the Commando series are blended with those of the NES Bionic Commando title to give him a far more illustrious career.
A decorated soldier in the Federation military, Gibson earned the appelation "The Supervisor" due to his leadership abilities and attention to detail- although in the field, the name was far more often shortened to "Super Joe".
After excelling in many behind-the-lines assaults (such as the events of the game Commando), Joe left the military for a short stint in private military contracting, teaming up with his fellow former officers Howard Powell and Thomas Clarke to form a team known as MERCS, whose exploits were detailed in the game of the same name.
The team, however, proved to be short-lived, and Joe moved into government work, joining T.A.S.C., where his leadership abilities made him quickly noticed by the brass, who entrusted him with the supervision of TASC's Bionic Research and Development Program.
It was during this period that Super Joe first met Nathan Spencer, and helped in the development of his radically-advanced Bionic Arm as well as overseeing his training, becoming something akin to Spencer's mentor.
During the war with the Imperials, Gibson was sent by TASC for yet another of the one-man, behind-the-lines assaults he was famous for pulling off- except this time, he failed and was captured, guarded over by the insane Imperial bionic, Gottfried Groeder.
Unbeknownst to Joe, Spencer was activated and sent into the field despite bionics still being in the prototype phase. Of course, Nathan rescued his mentor, and together, as the story goes, they dealt a death blow to the Imperial war effort.
Also of note is that videos showing the multiplayer gameplay mode have revealed that Super Joe is one of the four playable characters, alongside Spencer, Generalissimo Killt, and Gottfried Groeder. Like Spencer- and indeed, all the other characters- Super Joe will also feature swinging gameplay (perhaps a return of his short-lived wire gun from the arcade version of Bionic Commando?).
In Multiplayer Mode, Super Joe showcases his commando training by having the highest Ammo stat in the game, and an average Damage score to boot. However, according to the Official Site, Joe's age is beginning to show, as he cannot take as much punishment as he used to, resulting in a slightly-below-average Health stat.
Chain of Command
In Bionic Commando: Chain of Command, Gibson has apparently aged a bit since his outing in the NES/Rearmed adventure, his hair having gone grey. In addition, he has grown a mustache since the end of the war- overall, at first glance, one might, in fact, mistake him for an entirely different character from the blond-haired, clean-shaven soldier he has been in all previous appearances.
Gibson, as Director of TASC and Supervisor, Joint Operations Executive, is the person who briefs Nathan Spencer on his mission to take out Forge and Shrike, two rogue bionics who his intel suggested were about to sell TASC's bionics secrets to the Alaskan separatists, as well as the one who suggests Spencer for the mission, having seen him in action first-hand and knowing that if anyone can pull it off, Nathan Spencer can, dismissing Miller's skepticism.
Unfortunately, Gibson's intel was in error- Forge and Shrike hadn't told the Separatists ANYTHING, and in fact they were only staying with them long enough to book passage to Russia, leading to a series of complications in the mission.
Super Joe's stats as of the sequel:
JOSEPH "SUPER JOE" GIBSON
Height: 1.83 m / 6 ft 0 in
Weight: 91 kg / 202 lb
Age: 51 (note that, due to the sequel taking place 10 years after the NES game as well as its remake, Rearmed, this would make Super Joe roughly 41 during the events of the original game)
Rank: Director, TASC
After the war, Gibson and Spencer returned as heroes, with Joe being promoted to Director of TASC. Together, Gibson and Spencer oversaw the training of a whole new generation of bionic troops, such as Jayne Magdalene.
However, the technology was divisive, and Joe had to lobby harder and harder as time went on to keep the bionic program from being shut down- and then a group of rogue bionics was accused of aiding a rebellion against the FSA, giving the critics all the motive they needed.
Almost overnight, the Bionic Purge happened, with development or merely POSSESSION of bionics technology becoming illegal, and Nathan Spencer was tried and convicted as a scapegoat in a TASC internal military tribunal.
Gibson was powerless to stop it, or give any aid to his old colleague as he was sentenced to death for crimes he didn't commit- and he had his OWN problems as well. TASC had taken a blow with the Bionic Purge, being reduced to a shell of its former power. When BioReign detonated the Witherer in downtown Acension City, the military was sent in while TASC was held back.
However, the military was unable to respond to the crisis, and Gibson now sees a chance for redemption- for himself, for TASC... and for Spencer.