Superhero “Blue Ear” inspired by hearing-impaired boy

A hearing-impaired New Hampshire boy is now a superhero.

Marvel Comics has created a superhero called “Blue Ear” in honor of Anthony Smith, a 4-year-old boy from Salem, N.H., who was born with a chromosomal disorder that left him with severe hearing loss.

The boy, who has no right ear and only partial hearing in his left, wears a blue hearing aid that has enabled him to speak and attend school.

But Anthony – a devoted comic book fan – told his mother three weeks ago that he was no longer wearing the device because “superheroes don’t wear blue ears,” Fox affiliate WFXT reported.

Alarmed by the boy’s refusal, his mother, Christina D’Allesandro, emailed Marvel Comics in New York City, asking for assistance.

The comic book publisher sent D’Allesandro a picture the next day of “Hawkeye,” a superhero who lost 80 percent of his hearing and wears aids. The company then sent an image of its newest creation, a character called “Blue Ear,” who it said was named after the boy, according to the station.

“It’s amazing,” D’Allesandro said of the company’s response. She said her son brought the comic book pictures to his pre-school, which prompted teachers to hold a superhero week.

The Blue Ear, a superhero with hearing aids who assists Hawkeye of the Avengers team.

“Thanks to [his] listening device,” Blue Ear exclaims, he “can hear someone in trouble!”

Two years later, Marvel teamed up with the Children’s Hearing Institute to release a custom issue of the Iron Man series featuring Samantha, a young girl with a cochlear implant, who transforms into Avenger sidekick Sepheara. Together, Sepheara and Blue Ear help Iron Man defeat the evil Blackout.

While these Deaf characters increase the diversity of superheroes and provide Deaf children with relatable heroes, they also glamorize the medical technologies of hearing aids and cochlear implants, which not all Deaf children use.

Published by Fox News on 23 May 2012

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