|Real Name||Wally Gunderson|
|Wild Card Traits||Enhanced strength and durability, iron skin, iron corroding touch|
|Place of Birth||Minnesota, USA|
|Citizenship||Citizen of the United States|
|Occupation||Aid worker, miner|
|Event Participant||American Hero|
|Base of Operations||New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans|
|Affiliations||The Committee, Team Spades|
|Relatives||Pete (brother), Ghost (adoptive daughter)|
|First Appearance||Inside Straight|
Rustbelt is a fictional character in the Wild Cards series of books.
Growing up in Mountain Iron, Minnesota, Wally had constant exposure to life in a mining community. It was undoubtedly these surroundings that contributed to his transformation into a humanoid version of an excavation machine when he turned his wild card and became an iron-skinned joker. Despite his appearance, his mutation also granted him some formidable physical attributes, and when the chance came to try out for the American Hero television show, he was accepted into the ranks of the contestants.
Wally's time on American Hero wasn't a very pleasant experience, with his fellow contestants often just treating him as a clumsy oaf, and Stuntman throwing popular opinion against him with a claim that Rusty had used a racial slur against him. Landing in the discard pile, his misery continued despite his heroic actions in preventing the destruction of a mansion during an earthquake.
When news reports of joker genocide in Egypt became too much for him to bear, Rustbelt determined to follow John Fortune to the embattled nation to add his own strength to protect the oppressed people. He was surprised when a number of his other fellow contestants caught up with him at the airport, as his effort to take a stand had spurred the others into action behind him. Together they successfully fended off the oppression of the Egyptian jokers, and were subsequently offered roles working for a new branch of the United Nations colloquially referred to as the Committee.
In his first year with the Committee, Rusty was sent to a number of Middle East hotspots, usually acting as the vanguard of a peacekeeping force. In the following year he took on a mission of a more personal nature to track down a boy he had sponsored in the People's Paradise of Africa. His African journey was undertaken without Committee support, yet he had managed to convince Gardener to accompany him, and together they uncovered a horrific project to turn children into wild carders for the PPA. They rescued a number of children, and Rusty continued on alone to bring down the wild card operation, but his blossoming love for Gardener was shattered when she was killed by enemy aces in the region.
His African journey saw him foster a new dependant however, when Ghost, the child ace sent to kill him in the Congo, gradually bonded with him instead, and he brought her back to New York for a new life in relative safety at the Jerusha Carter Childhood Development Institute.
Adjustment was difficult for the girl, and Rustbelt found himself called to discuss a moody and violent turn in her nature when one of her teachers disappeared. Initially drawn by the disappearance of one teacher, he soon began investigating a wider kidnapping spree. His attempts to get himself kidnapped proved futile and only served to draw the attention of the police when he wound up in a street brawl with the Sleeper. After his release a local meter maid, Darcy, approached him with a request to assist her in tracking the kidnappers. The pair followed Darcy's lead to a scrap yard where they had an altercation with the kidnappers. Despite their failure in tackling the criminals, Rustbelt did witness how the kidnappers' van was teleported away, and this led the police straight to Tesseract, a major breakthrough in the case.
Rustbelt is currently employed by Noel Matthews' company "Aces in Hand", assisting with the demolition of buildings by using his powers to rust the structures of buildings thereby collapsing them.
Wild Card Traits
Rustbelt is a joker who has a thick layer of iron for skin, which makes him incredibly durable, strong and bulletproof. With concentration, Rustbelt's touch can oxidize the iron in any metal and turn it to rust.
Rusty's durability depends on the condition of his iron skin. If his skin is rust free, Wally is able to take multiple hits from a tank. If allowed to rust, Wally begins to become vulnerable to bullets depending on the level of rust.
Magnets affect Wally negatively and scramble his brain. After an encounter with a giant scrap yard magnet, he became temporarily disoriented and magnetized for a time. Small ferrous metal objects stuck to him, and he had to be removed from the vicinity of old computer equipment to protect them from his magnetic field.
Wally has bright yellow eyes. Due in part to his skin being iron based, and in part due to his 'rusting' ace, Rustbelt is prone to rust, and must scour his skin to remove the oxidation. Wally is heavy, having been described as "being 350lbs wrapped in inch thick iron," and weighs around 700lbs.
Wally is a kind-hearted young man. He was very shy growing up even before his card turned when he was seventeen. Rustbelt abhors profanity, opting to use words like "cripes" and "knucklehead" over harsher cuss words.
- Rustbelt is strong enough to almost flip an APC (armoured personnel carrier) with a single, violent shove. An APC can weigh anywhere between 4.5 tons and 27 tons.