Hulk: Broken Worlds #1
This two-issue series contains short pieces by various artists and writers that feature the Hulk in eight different alternate realities. The first of four stories in the first issue is titled, “Punyville” and takes place in the House of M reality. Wild Child appears as a member of Magneto’s Red Guard, having previously joined at some unspecified point.
It’s very helpful to have read the corresponding Hulk issues for the House of M crossover (#83-87) to understand the plot of this story. Those issues explain what Punyville is (a coastal shantytown in Australia for human refugees), why Bruce Banner is in Australia, how he became its leader (by deposing Magneto’s appointed mutant governors), why he’s marked with aboriginal tattoos and most importantly, why the leader of an entire country is wearing tattered shorts with a rope sash for a belt.
One stark omission from those issues was Betty Ross, who now arrives at Punyville as Betty Talbot. Her husband, Glenn Talbot is a resistance fighter who intends to use a superpower inhibitor collar on the Hulk. Joining Talbot in their assault on the Hulk are three other human refugees who agree to help. The three are actually undercover agents from Magneto’s Red Guard sent to take out the Talbots: mutants Arclight, Mentallo and Wild Child.
They break into Prime Minister Banner’s home and Wild Child bursts into action. He breaks a guard’s neck, snatches the collar from Talbot’s hands, slaps it around Banner’s neck and slashes him across the chest. Unfortunately, the collar doesn’t work or the Hulk’s power is too great for it to inhibit, and he transforms into the jolly green giant. The Hulk smashes Wild Child with both fists really hard into the ground, possibly killing him.
If it weren’t such a distinctive honor to be smashed by the Hulk, it would be disappointing to see Wild Child taken down so quickly. Similar to the surprise revelation that Diamond Lil turned out to be a member of Magneto’s Red Guard in House of M: Masters of Evil #4, we had no clue about Wild Child’s whereabouts during the crossover, as he made no other appearance in any House of M book. It was nice of Fred van Lente to include Kyle in this issue as one of the three mutant infiltrators, and even nicer for him to have remembered, of all Kyle’s various incarnations and personas, that Kyle was once dashingly handsome as Wildheart, so much so that he caught Aurora’s eye (mentioned in X-Factor #116), and could easily pass as a Homo Sapiens. Note that at the time of the House of M crossover in 2004, Kyle was still the grey-skinned gargoylish version from Tieri’s Weapon X series, so Fred van Lente got this just right, as it would make perfect sense for Kyle to look like he did in the House of M reality, where characters generally live out their heart’s desires.