Alas, Silver Sable. You're great, but so unfortunately cemented in the second string that you don't even make the cover of the issue of someone else's book when you bite the big one.
That is, if Amazing Spider-Man #687 writer Dan Slott is really going this dark, and doesn't have some kind of failsafe up his sleeve.
In the climactic battle of "Ends of the Earth," the last gasp of the dying Dr. Octopus as he races against Spider-Man, Sable, the Avengers and his own mortality to achieve lasting infamy as the most insidious mass murderer of all time by frying all but .008% of the world's population with a full on massive death-ray, the strongest blow doesn't come from any of Otto Octavius' eight limbs, but just one belonging to Alexei Sytsevich, otherwise known as the Rhino.
First things first, though. We open with the Octobot-controlled Avengers fighting Spider-Man, Black Widow, Silver Sable and the one and only Mysterio, who has sold out Doc Ock's master plan because he wants to live on an unscorched Earth with the 2 billion smackers he banked for this job (that equals what, about four movies?), and there's a lot of cool moments in the fight – particularly when Doc takes direct control of Thor and, as a result, can no longer wield Mjolnir because he is so not worthy. The best moment being when Mysterio is the guy who actually saves the team, and Iron Man's first independent thought on being freed is to be humiliated by that fact.
Of course, Beck bugs out before the final battle, and Widow was knocked cold in the big fight, so it's up to Spidey and Sable to venture out into the middle of the sea to take down Octavius himself, while the Avengers are busy trying to stop all of Ock's special missiles from completing the "Octavian Lens" that's going to flash-fry the world. They get far enough that Octavius plans to drown them out of his own base by sinking it, believing he can push the doomsday button before everything goes under – because he's got the Rhino pulling a Gandalf saying "You will not pass." He's so big that he blocks the entire corridor, he's immensely stronger than Spider-Man, and we finally learn what Octavius promised him as payment for his work with the Sinister Six on this final plot. What do you get the nihilistic man who hates everything? The death of everything. All he wanted was to watch the world burn. Michael Caine Alfred was right.
The way one of Spider-Man's most underestimated enemies finally scores his ultimate victory against the hero is by suddenly grabbing hold of Silver Sable – the mercenary who has been right at Spidey's side, boosting his confidence when it faltered in this role he's not used to, vouching for him to everyone else whose help they required by reaffirming her deep, abiding belief in him, and even making a play for him during this intense race against the clock to save the entire world – and pinning her down as the water rushes into the corridor to flood them out. Promising that he will not move from that spot, even as the water overtakes them both.
The Rhino commits suicide by murder. A truly dark turn from Slott, a man not known for dark turns.
For her part, Silver Sablinovia of Symkaria has always seemed a bit morally gray… or morally silver, as it were. She's killed for money, but she's never preyed on the innocent, and her income tends to go to support her homeland – which has the misfortune of neighboring Dr. Doom's Latveria. She's always been more hero than true cold-blooded merc, and she's always had near-fatal taste in men (see her ex-husband Foreigner, who routinely tries to kill her). So perhaps we should've seen this fate coming to befall her a few issues ago, when Sable actually revealed that she was interested in Spider-Man – and one can very easily see how working alongside Spidey in this paramilitary commando mode would have turned the crank of a soldier like Sable. This particular mission has been all nobility, though, with Sable involving herself of her own volition because she believed in Spider-Man enough to defy the world's opinion that Octavius was actually working to solve global warming for them. To her last breath, her last gasp of air, her true nature is nobility, desperately urging Spider-Man to leave her behind to stop Octavius before he killed the world.
And that he does, calling upon reserves of strength he didn't know he had. And even though he wins the war, the one lost battle makes the whole effort a failure for Peter Parker and his vow that no one would die on his watch.
Slott writes so densely, and so urgently that he tends to leave you a little breathless, and it's hard to imagine the goofy bits with Mysterio at the beginning are in the same issue as this grisly demise of a cult favorite character like Sable. It's possible he's got a plan to get her out of there, but since he's been building this story for years now, the last great plan of Doc Ock, it had to have a lasting effect somehow, since burning the world is apparently the Phoenix's job over in Avengers vs. X-Men. The art from Stefano Caselli is also top notch, bringing the kinetic energy of Humberto Ramos' work without the distended angles, so it may be a bit more palatable for mainstream appreciation.
The final Doc Ock fight feels a little anti-climactic after Rhino's last stand, and although it is sad that Sable didn't even make the cover of this issue, one supposes that did help preserve the surprising turn of the Amazing Spider-Man #687. Even though she's perennially shy of getting the top tier attention, if she's truly gone, she'd better get a really solid send-off requiem issue somewhere (likely slated for Avenging Spider-Man #8). If she's not truly gone, maybe her return can come with some hype and fanfare, so that maybe she can graduate to the upper echelon of Marvel's characters. Lord knows they could use some higher profile female heroes. Somebody put Sable on the Avengers, will ya? You know, assuming she's not dead forever.
You know… maybe Sandman will remember he had a thing for her, and he could figure something out… hmm…