What Happens To Beta In 'The Walking Dead' Comics? Alpha's Second Has A Fascinating Backstory
Spoilers for The Walking Dead comics ahead. Every Alpha needs her Beta and while this second-in-command of the Whisperers hasn't gotten much screentime on The Walking Dead yet, viewers are about to get to know him a little better. Beta in The Walking Dead comics has a different introduction than he does on the TV show since he was by Alpha's side during her first appearance on the AMC series. And in March 3's "Guardians," Beta will be using his intimating size to, well, intimidate Henry. But before he ascends to major Walking Dead villain status on the TV series, here's what happens to Beta in Robert Kirkman's graphic novel.
As The Walking Dead comes from Kirkman's Skybound Entertainment and the company's website outlined how Beta entered the scene in the comics. Beta's first appearance was in Issue 154, "Led to Slaughter." As his name more than suggests, Beta is second to Alpha in the comics too. But instead of appearing at the gates of Hilltop with Alpha, his first comic interaction is with Negan. Like on the TV show, Negan had fled his prison cell at Alexandria (though the specifics around his escape are different and on the TV show). Negan encounters Beta and some other Whisperers in the woods and then asks if he can join these walker-wearers, so Beta brings Negan to Alpha. Although Negan is a pretty menacing dude, the illustrations from Beta's first comic appearance below show how the leader of the Saviors is puny in comparison to Beta — and that Beta's weapons of choice are two knives.
Even though Negan already returned to Alexandria, the interaction between him and "Frowny Mctwoknives" (as Negan calls Beta) could still happen. But, as Skybound noted, their meeting doesn't happen until way after Alpha and Lydia are introduced. Alpha first appears in Issue 132 and Lydia in Issue 133, so there are a solid 20 issues between their introduction and Beta's first appearance.
With Ryan Hurst of Sons of Anarchy already cast and present, The Walking Dead TV show is making Beta a bigger part earlier on than he was in the comics. But, he's still a major villain no matter the medium. It's just that Beta really becomes a problem for the communities in the comics after Alpha dies. Because once Negan shows up to the Whisperers' camp, it doesn't take him long to turn on Alpha and cut her head off. Following the decapitation, Negan doesn't assume the mantle of "Alpha" — as would be his right. And Beta, who was utterly devoted to Alpha, stays Beta in her honor and seeks revenge for his fallen leader.
Beta then leads the Whisperers into battle with Alexandria, the Hilltop, and the Kingdom in the volume appropriately titled The Whisperer War. Beta ultimately loses the battle, but a herd of walkers approaches Alexandria, so the new Whisperer leader just assumes that his foes will be taken care of. While Beta survives the war, he is killed later on when he attacks Aaron and a still-alive Jesus. Aaron is responsible for dealing the fatal blow, which results in the Whisperers pretty much disbanding and no longer posing a threat.
It's never clear if there was a romantic connection between Alpha and Beta, but that can be assumed by fans based on how absurdly loyal he is to her. This is particularly noteworthy since if he had challenged her while they were alive, he could have beaten her physically. And he used his massive size pre-apocalypse in his career. As Aaron and Jesus discover when they unmask him before his death, Beta was actually an NBA basketball player who parlayed his sports fame into an acting career. So romantic interest seems to be the most logical reason that a man with that type of background would be subservient to a woman like Alpha.
While alive, Beta never let anyone remove his walker-leather mask and would kill those who tried, so as to hide his famous identity. And another fascinating aspect of Beta is that his real name is never revealed. So The Walking Dead comics have had fun with fans by having them guess what real NBA player Beta could possibly be. (Larry Bird amusingly won top guess in one Twitter poll.) However, it doesn't seem likely that viewers of The Walking Dead won't ever see Hurst's face. But if he does stay masked the entire time, that will be some pretty impressive commitment to character.
Considering that the show has already strayed from the comics when it comes to Beta, there will probably be other changes to his character along the way. Yet, what's looking to be certain is that Beta will be partially responsible for the ultimate showdown between the Whisperers and the civilized communities. So expect to see a lot of his walker-masked face until that Whisperer War is waged.