Superheroes do wear blue ears, thanks to NH boy
Anthony Smith, 4, inspired Marvel Comics to create Blue Ear, a superhero with a hearing device. (Julie Hanson)
SALEM — Four-year-old Anthony Smith inspired Marvel Comics to create a superhero with a human side.
“It's just been great,” said Christina D'Allesandro, Anthony's mother. “We're just in awe that it's become so big.”
Anthony, who has no hearing on his right side and reduced hearing on his left, knew everything about superheroes. Or so he thought. One morning he decided to stop wearing his hearing aid because “superheroes don't wear blue ears.”
D'Allesandro assured Anthony that some superheroes wear hearing aids. She posted on Facebook asking friends to play along if Anthony asked questions. The message led to discussion about superheroes with physical challenges. After reading the posts, D'Allesandro emailed Marvel Comics in New York to get the straight scoop.
“I really think it just ended up in the right guy's email,” D'Allesandro said.
Within 24 hours she received a comic book cover featuring Hawkeye, a member of the Avengers who didn't let temporary hearing loss interfere with his crime-fighting duties.
Marvel artist Nelson Ribeiro followed up with a drawing introducing Blue Ear, a new superhero with a hearing device inspired by Anthony.
“He listens for people in trouble and he goes to help them and he fights bad guys,” Anthony said.
Anthony brought the picture to HEAR in New Hampshire, the school he attends in Hooksett. His classmates, who also have hearing impairment, were excited by the idea that a superhero could wear a hearing aid. They held a Superhero Week, with students and staff alike dressed as their favorite crime-fighters.
“We had a lot of fun with it,” said D'Allesandro, whose father is state Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester.
The best was yet to come. Another email from Marvel Comics included a drawing by Manny Mederos showing Hawkeye and “Little Blue Ear.” Anthony took one look at the little superhero with a B on his chest and a cape on his back and knew he was seeing himself.
“I think at that point for him it was awesome,” D'Allesandro said.
The story of Blue Ear lit up the Internet. Parents reached out to request copies of the artwork and promised to thank Marvel Comics for their efforts. D'Allesandro is especially pleased that auditory and oral therapists now have the information to share with their students.
She's thrilled that what started as a nice gesture for a little boy has done so much good.
“It's made a big difference to him,” D'Allesandro said.
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