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A mechanical prodigy since he first developed fine motor skills as an infant, there were few things Joe Rotkowski couldn't fix. Enlisted by renowned physicist Professor Kingston Kirbey to aid Kingston's landmark development of the world's first H20-fueled automobile, Joe eagerly rolled up his sleeves and got to work. In only a few years, Kirbey and Joe had built a prototype vehicle from the chassis out, working in secret on a design utilizing new lightweight alloys as tough as tempered steel. Unfortunately, their intentions were not so secret to the automobile manufacturers of Detroit, who were afraid that the prototype would put them out of business.
Working late one night after Kirbey had gone home with his beautiful and brilliant daughter Dot (whom Joe was secretly in love with), Joe was accosted by a gang of hired thugs. They beat him near to death, then trapped him under the prototype's hydraulic lift and demanded that he destroy the car. Refusing to destroy his and Kirbey's life's work out of honesty, he was left under the hydraulic lift while the thugs set a bomb and ran. When the bomb exploded, it destroyed most of the garage/laboratory, but Joe survived, partly shielded by the prototype. When Professor Kirbey found the mortally-wounded Joe, he vowed to save him, using his research to create a new mechanical body to give Joe a fighting chance.
Now more machine than man, Joe became a living vehicle, and went to Detroit to make the unscrupulous car manufacturers pay for turning him into a vehicular vigilante.
Sometime since then, he lost contact with Dot, without telling her how he felt (though she had enormous respect for him). During the Second World War, Engine Joe and other Allied metahumans were abducted by their government into the Number of the Beast program, in which Joe's body was housed in the Motor Pool in a specially designed pod filled with special hot oil solution, and has been a member of the Paladins in the program's virtual world.
After The High freed the Paladins and others from the NOTB program, and the Earth's cataclysm Engine Joe joined with Mago and Tumbleweed in finding those involved with the NOTB program and held them accountable for the World's End, starting with Zebulon McCandless the founder of the NOTB program.
Engine Joe was later among the many heroes summoned to UnLondon in Earth's war against the Knights of Khera, in which he noticeably and briefly punched Sabre. Following the battle, Joe and the other heroes were present on board Skywatch III and listening to Spartan's long term plan for Earth's restoration.
- Cybernetic Enhancement: Most of Joe's body was beaten, crushed and destroyed. His mentor Kirbey, with only minutes to spare, saved his life by placing and sealing him into a chassis they had both built together previously.
- Superhuman Strength: Joe's new body allows him incredible strength, enough to tear the concrete right off the road and hurl cars around with little effort.
- Superhuman Durability: Joe's new body is incredibly durable. It's made to be light enough for Joe to maneuver but strong enough to survive explosions with minimal damage.
- This biography is primarily based on a biographical note in the back of Number of the Beast #2.
- Engine Joe briefly first appeared in Wildstorm: Revelations #3 before his full appearance in Number of the Beast #1.
- Engine Joe was the very first character designed for Number of the Beast, by artist Chris Sprouse. Sprouse also mentions that Engine Joe is his favorite character.
- 14 Appearances of Joseph Rotkowski (Wildstorm Universe)
- 10 Images featuring Joseph Rotkowski (Wildstorm Universe)
- 1 Quotations by or about Joseph Rotkowski (Wildstorm Universe)
- Character Gallery: Joseph Rotkowski (Wildstorm Universe)