Marvel's March Solicitations list has marked the end of their kid's line including Marvel Adventures Spider-Man and Marvel Adventures Super-Heroes. Poor numbers are the obvious cause here, according to ICv2, Spider-Man was ordering 4,501 copies with Super-Heroes at 3,308 copies. By comparison, Spider-Girl was put on watch when she dropped under 25,000 copies, and Amazing Spider-Girl was at 13,689 back in February 2009 just before she was dropped.
The "Iron Man" and "Hulk" versions of the Marvel Adventures lines collapsed shortly after take-off. I haven't seen anything of Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four in a while either. The other title featuring Spider-Man full time was Marvel Adventures Avengers, which featured some entertaining stories from Jeff Parker, but seemed to fade and eventually die under writer Paul Tobin. It was canceled a few months ago.
Paul Tobin also took on the Marvel Adventures Spider-Man writing duties, and made a major revamp to the MASM cast, with the addition of teenage versions of characters Emma Frost and her talks-to-the--animals friend Chat as the two major co-stars of the title. The "new recipe" doesn't seem to have been a success, and it looks like the entire Marvel Adventures line is finally paying the price for erratic storytelling, a lack of distribution support, a general easing-off in comic sales, and competition in the "young Spider-Man" space from Marvel's own Ultimate Spider-Man.
Of course, this ending is likely to be simply a new beginning. With Disney's buyout of Marvel, they bring considerable experience in the children's market, plus a fair bit of distribution muscle. Don't be surprised if later in the year we see a new "Spider-Man for Kids" title, with a slightly Disney-esque slant on it.
While we're talking about alternate Marvel Universes, my personal view is that Ultimate Spider-Man shot itself in the foot with the events of Ultimatum. I'm not sure of the reason behind the Ultimate-revamp which killed off half the cast and brutally reworked much of what remained. Perhaps it was an attempt to "re-set" the Ultimate universe, with much of the complexity of the last few years being dropped, and Spider-Man (among others) being returned back to simple basics.
Or perhaps it was an attempt to shock some life back into the Ultimate titles, and return them to their glory days. Let's check out some numbers. In March 2001, Ulimate Spider-Man + Ultimate X-Men were selling 168,000. Ultimate X-Men out-sold Uncanny X-Men in that month. Then in June 2005, combined Ult. SM + Ult. XM were 158,000. Ultimate Fantastic Four was selling nearly 60,000 as well.
Jump forward to the end of 2009. Rebooted Ultimate Comics Spider-Man is under 50,000. Ultimate Comics Avengers is under 60,000. Ultimate X-Men are on holiday until February, their five month holiday scarcely the sign of a "hot" title. The other "Ultimate" title, the laughable "Ultimate Comics Armor Wars" is selling an equally laughable 7,000 copies. Certainly there's no sign that Ultimatum did anything to halt the decline. If anything, it may have hastened the demise of this formerly flagship universe. Perhaps I mis-read the intentions. Perhaps Ultimatum was simply the Ultimate X-Men going out with a bang, not a whimper.
In any case, my forecast for 2010 is that sales figures for the rebooted Ultimate Comics Spider-Man and Ultimate Comics Avengers will continue to drift downwards. Later in the year I reckon we'll see the beginning of the end as Marvel's Ultimate Universe circles the wagons and starts looking around for ways to postpone the inevitable axing for as long as possible.