SALEM, NH—Meet Blue Ear, the latest Marvel superhero. And, while he has superpowers, Blue Ear also has a hearing loss–until he puts on a special listening device that gives him super-sonic hearing.
Blue Ear isn’t the first Marvel character with a hearing loss. Hawkeye, who lost his hearing in a battle with Crossfire in the 1980s, is featured in The Avengers, the mega-hit movie that is breaking box office records in theaters across America
But Blue Ear is probably the first Marvel superhero to be inspired by a real person, 4-year-old Anthony Smith from Salem, NH. Here’s the story behind that, one that’s been reported by newspapers, television stations, and online publications nationwide.
Anthony, who is deaf in one ear and has some residual hearing in the other, announced that he wouldn’t wear Blue Ear, the family’s name for his blue hearing aid, to school anymore. He explained to his mother, Christina D’Allesandro, that superheroes don’t wear hearing aids.
Unable to refute her son’s logic, D’Allesandro took the issue to a higher authority, Marvel. Her e-mail to its general mailbox came to the attention of Bill Rosemann, a Marvel editor and writer. Rosemann, who has a young child of his own, sprang into action.
First, he sent Anthony’s mother a note and an image of Hawkeye as proof that someone who had lost his hearing could still be a hero. Then he recruited a team, with a Marvel assistant editor, Nelson Ribeiro, and a production artist, Manny Mederos, to create an entirely new character and a story behind him.
Mederos drew an image of Blue Ear, who looks like Anthony, standing beside his friend Hawkeye.
Blue Ear stands with his buddy, Hawkeye, in the panel at left, and shows off his super hearing at right (Credit: Marvel)
According to Ribeiro, Blue Ear has a hearing loss, for which he invented a device that allows him to hear “an ant hiccup on the other side of the country.” Embellishing the story, the writer added that Blue Ear is part of a “super-secret government agency of special needs children, who have banded together to use their newfound powers to fight crime and teach the world that, no matter who you are, everyone has a hero inside of them!”
With a superhero friend like Blue Ear to encourage him, it’s no wonder that Anthony is proud to wear his hearing aid to school.
In an interview with CBS News, Thomas Brennan, a Marvel editor, said, “If you work on superhero comics it’s because on some level, you believe in heroes. So when we learn about someone like Anthony, that belief comes into play. Our jobs are to make sure kids like Anthony believe in heroes.”