The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes has been on the air for two fairly successful seasons – our own Kofi Outlaw gave the season one premiere episode a fairly glowing review. Season two has been particularly appreciated for its crossover episodes with the Fantastic Four and Wolverine, among other Marvel characters.

Unfortunately, after much speculation and despite fan acclaim, Marvel has officially (and somewhat shockingly) canceled The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in favor of a new series Avengers Assemble. The bittersweet announcement came earlier this week from Marvel Animation by way of a very brief press release.

Check it out below:

“‘The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes’ won’t be renewed for the 3rd Season. Marvel Animation will present their newly developed series ‘Marvel’s Avengers Assemble’ in 2013.”

The release was accompanied by a promo image for Avengers Assemble that bears a striking resemblance to Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch’s The Ultimates. Check it out below (click to enlarge):

Marvel made a similar choice in the past when they replaced the Spectacular Spider-Man animated series with the less critically-acclaimed Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon. While there’s still very little information about Avengers Assemble, it will apparently feature the same core characters as the Avengers movie with the addition of Falcon (who is rumored to be part of the upcoming Captain America 2 film). Hank Pym and Black Panther are expected to show up later in the series.

Fans of  Avengers: EMH are undoubtedly gutted by the news of the popular show’s demise, which featured solid characters and writing based on classic Marvel comics stories – but the fact that the show would not see a third season has been hinted for some time now.

Back in April, Jeph Loeb, the head of Marvel Animation, gave some cryptic comments on the show’s future and even refused to answer direct questions as to whether or not the beloved cartoon would be renewed for a third season:

“I can only tell you that we’re committed to ‘The Avengers’ universe and that’s as far as I can go. We have big plans for ‘The Avengers.'”

After smashing box office records by bringing in over a billion dollars, it looks like Marvel seeks to ride the wave of the Avengers movie as far as it will take them. While seemingly a great idea, this can be a double-edged sword, as it further removes the classic (and current) comic book series from other Marvel media. Ultimately, Marvel could slap the brands of the Avengers, Spider-Man, and X-Men on pretty much anything and it would do fairly well, but as The Avengers: Earth Mightiest Heroes and the ’90s X-Men cartoon have proven, connecting an animated series with classic comic stories can result in great overall success.

In other superhero animation news, Marvel has announced the renewal of Ultimate Spider-Man for a second season. Season two will see Spidey teaming up with Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk. Also, Buffy the Vampire Slayer bad-girl-turned-good-girl Eliza Dusku will be lending her voice to Disney XD’s upcoming Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H as the Hulk’s buxom cousin, She-Hulk.  The series will feature the original (green) Hulk, Red Hulk, Skaar (Hulk’s son), and A-Bomb (the new Abomination).

Avengers Assemble will air on Disney XD next year.