Classification: Semi-humanoid extraterrestrial race
Location/Base of Operations: The Beta sector of Reality-7918
Known Members: None identified; the commander (pictured in full body in the main image and also in the face close-up) was the only unique individual
Affiliations: Baron (Wolfgang) von Strucker, other unspecified allies in the Beta sector (see comments)
Enemies: Alpha Sector (Terran forces and others unspecified allies -- see comments), First Attack Squad/"Howling Commandos" (Isadore "Izzy" Cohen, Timothy "Dum-Dum" Dugan, Sgt. Nick Fury, Red Hargrove,Gabe Jones, Jonathon "Junior" Juniper, Dino Manelli, Robert "Rebel" Ralston), Captain Sam Sawyer
First Appearance: What If? I#14 (April, 1979)
Powers/Abilities: The Betans did not demonstrate superhuman abilities. They had starships and carriers roughly equivalent to those posed by humanity, who were at least a couple centuries ahead of what was the standard of Earth in the mid 20th century in most realities.
Traits: The Betans were Imperialistic and apparently considered hominids/non-reptilians as inferior.
Type: Bilaterally symmetric semi-humanoid reptilian bipeds
Eyes: Two (on head; they had reptilian slit-pupils and yellow irises, with no visible sclera)
Fingers: Three (plus opposing thumb)
Toes: Unrevealed (maybe four given their manual appearance)
Skin color: Red, scaled
Average height: Approximately 5'10"? (I don't think any were directly pictured next to a human of known height (or any human?), so they could be significantly larger or smaller)
(What If? I#14 (fb) - BTS) - Part of the region of space known as Beta sector, the aliens referred to only as the Betans warred against the inhabitants of Alpha sector, expanding their empire via conquered slave planets. Though this sector included Earth, Earth's forces remained aloof from the war as they had not been directly attacked.
(What If? I#14 (fb) - BTS) - The Betan commander allied with Admiral Wolfgang von Strucker, a former ally of the Nazi cause who sought to use the Betans to weaken Earth's forces so that the repressed Germany could return to its rightful place as Earth's ruling class.
(What If? I#14) <December 7, 1941> - A Betan armada assaulted/ambushed Space Station Pearl; many perished in the assault, including Captain Sam Sawyer, who saved Sgt. Fury and Red Hargrove from death when they resisted the attackers, but was slain in the process; as he perished, Sawyer revealed his plan to form a new commando squad involving both Fury and Hargrove.
(What If? I#14 - BTS) - Following the Betan attack, Earth's entry into the war between Alpha and Beta sectors was official.
(What If? I#14 - BTS) - The Betans planned to attack Earth station Midway unexpectedly. While the Terrans were still stunned from their surprise barrage, they would descend in great masses from their transport cruisers, "butchering every non-scaly hominid and claiming the Midway station in the name of our glorious Betan cause." They were also prepared to take the Yorktown carrier-ship by any means necessary.
(What If? I#14 - BTS) - Von Strucker leaked information about the planned Betan assault to unspecified members of the Alphan forces.
(What If? I#14 - BTS) - Alphan sources indicated that the Betans assumed the Alphans had no operational carriers in the "Midway" area.
(What If? I#14 - BTS) - With Alphan computers predicting a Betan attack on the Earth station Midway as imminent, the First Attack Squad/"Howling Commandos," were ordered to remain on 24-hour on-call. Hargrove, however, was sent to fly an attack cruiser from the Yorktown space station, launching a carrier attack on the Betans.
(What If? I#14 (fb) - BTS) - Betan attack cruisers were sent to Earth station Midway.
(What If? I#14) - A Betan commander aboard a great flagship spoke to his troops, announcing that their attack cruisers' superior firepower would weaken Midway sufficiently. He reminded them that taking the Midway would allow them to conquer Earth and make it yet another slave planet in the spreading Betan Empire. He instructed them to take the Yorktown carrier-ship if necessary, even if it meant they must crash their own fighters into the massive hull to achieve success.
As his men prepared for the expected onslaught, the Betan commander was contacted by his secret ally, von Strucker, who requested details of the planned attack to help ensure its success. The Betan commander explained that the planned time factor was opportune, as those manning the Yorktown did not suspect the coming onslaught, and he complimented von Strucker on his work.
Based on von Strucker's information, the Betan commander had five rocket carriers launch their attack-cruisers toward Alpha space, which those aboard the Yorktown carrier swiftly identified. Red Hargrove joined the rest of Missile 8 Attack Squad in heading to confront the Betan forces.
(What If? I#14 (fb) - BTS) - The robot directing the First Attack Squad instructed Fury to lead his troops to arrest the traitorous admiral of the Yorktown carrier-ship.
(What If? I#14) - The Betans attacked Earth station Midway, and Fury had to rescue his robot commander before the First Attack Squad could enter their shuttle and head for Yorktown.
As Hargrove led the Missile 8 group to retaliate, the Betans commander realized that his Terran spy had betrayed him, and decided to save Midway for later and to attack the Yorktown now instead. Regardless, Hargrove led several ships to attack the Betan flagship; though the rest of his group was slain by Betan forces, Hargrove flew his ship to crash into the flagship, ejecting just before his own ship crashed into the flagship; Hargrove's rocket pack malfunctioned, leaving him floating helplessly as the last of his men were shot down.
As Fury's robot commander facilitated First Attack Squad in confronting von Strucker and his elite Aryap corps, the Betans attacked the Yorktown. Von Strucker fled to escape the onslaught, but Fury followed him to his escape capsule and ultimately knocked von Strucker (who was lacking a space helmet) into space. Fury's robot commander piloted the ship allowing the Howlers to escape and witness as the entire Terran fleet approached the Betan flagship. The Betan cruisers rushed to the flagship's defense, but the fleet, aided by the Howlers critically damaged the flagship; the dying Betan commander realized the battle was lost.
Fury pressured the robot commander to recover Red from the flagship, after which Betan flagship was destroyed, but a fragment of the exploding ship destroyed the robot commander.
Comments: Created by Gary Friedrich, Don Glut, Herb Trimpe, and Pablo Marcos.
The whole premise of this reality was that
circa the 15th century, the fantastic machinery imagined, designed, and drawn by
Leonardo da Vinci were built and utilized, as opposed to remaining only on paper
in Reality-616 (SORT OF, as this story took place look before the SHIELD series
ret-conned da Vinci into being part of the Order of Shield; the point is, that
even in Reality-616, da Vinci did not have his equipment mass-produced to
By the end of the 15th century, men took to the sky in flying machines that were descended/derived from da Vinci's designs. During the 1800's, men landed on the moon. And on December 17, 1903 (the same day the Wright brothers flew their aircraft in Kitty Hawk), man was reaching out to other galaxies.
Titled "What If Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos had fought World War II in Outer Space" the dates paralleled the historic World War II, but Pearl Harbor was replaced by Space Station Pearl, the Nazis (and the Japanese, of course) were replaced by the Betans, etc.
In Reality-7918, the Nazi cause was squelched by the Alphan-Betan war.
According to the Watcher on the intro page, "space is divided into Alpha and Beta sectors...one on either side of the sun...just as your own Earth was divided into Eastern and Western fronts during your own World War II" (he was apparently speaking directly to the readers on Earth-1218 (the real world that we live in).
As on Earth, there were obviously some
pre-existing conflicts, because Red wished the Betans would do something to get
Earth into the war, while other, civilian fighters were out in space, fighting
alongside their Alpha allies against the Betans. We neither know what other
races/planets were in Alpha sector, nor what others were in the Beta sector.
Assuming the parallels between World War II and the Alpha-Betan war were complete, then both wars would have started in 1939.
One of the few things we know about the other Alpha planets is that Dino had a red-skinned girlfriend named Zeena on one of the Alpha planets.
There is a LOT of goofy in this story. Gabe used a sonic laser "bugle" that he placed on the outside of his helmet as if he were blowing into it. A super-intelligent robot could only communicate via a print-out (that's part of the problem of OLD sci-fi!). Dum-Dum's hat falling over his eyes and his not being able to move it because he was in a space helmet is pretty silly. Nowhere near as silly as Nick Fury having a cigar inside of his oxygen-filled space helmet (he does at least once reference that he needs to get his helmet off so he can light up, but smoking inside an artificial atmosphere doesn't seem that wise either). Maybe da Vinci had that worked out, too!
Red Hargrove called the Betans "snake-faced uglies." Fury calls them Betan iguanas.
Thanks to Donald Campbell for reminding me of this unique alien race after I profiled the unrelated Betan race of Reality-616.
Profile by Snood.
The Betans of have no known connections to
images: (without ads)
What If? I#14, pg. 18 (main image; full body commander);
pg. 19, panel 1 (commander face close-up);
pg. 25, panel 4 (other office with commander);
pg. 27, panel 2 (flagship under assault by Missile 8 Attack Squad)
What If? I#14 (April, 1979) - Gary Friedrich (plot), Don Glut (script), Herb Trimpe (penciler), Pablo Marcos (inker), Roy Thomas (concept and editor), Jim Shooter (consulting editor)
Last updated: 06/29/14
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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