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Marvel Team Creates Deaf Superhero Called Blue Ear in Honor of Boy

Marvel usually gets mail from die-hard fans asking extremely detailed questions about their favorite characters, but one request from a desperate mother led staffers to put their thinking caps on and come up with a brand new superhero.

Blue Ear — a super hero with a special listening device that gives him super-sonic hearing — was created in the likeness of Anthony Smith, a four-year-old boy born with mosaic trisomy 22.

“We were raised with the words of Stan Lee ringing in our ears: ‘With great power, there must also come a great responsibility,'” Marvel editor and writer Bill Rosemann said. “If we don’t use whatever skills we have to help others, why are we here at Marvel?”

According to WebMD, Mosaic trisomy 22 is a genetic disorder that causes three copies of chromosome 22 instead of two. Though mothers typically suffer a miscarriage when their fetus has the disease, babies that survive suffer from developmental and health complications.

In Anthony’s case, he has hearing problems that require a hearing aid which he and his family call “blue ear.” One day, he told his mother Christina D’Allesandro that he no longer wanted to wear it because “superheroes don’t wear blue ears,” she recounted. Frustrated, she emailed Marvel’s general mailbox where Rosemann read her plea. He decided to send D’Allesandro a note and an image of Hawkeye, a hero best known for being on the Avengers. He told her to say to her son that the character lost his hearing at one point of his career and was still a hero.

“As a fellow parent of a toddler, I can only imagine her situation, so I shared the email to the rest of Editorial, asking how we could help … wondering if there were any artists who would be willing to draw something for Anthony,” said Rosemann. “And just like when Captain America yells, ‘Avengers Assemble,’ the squad quickly responded.”

Then, other members of the team decided to spring into action. Blue Ear was created by Marvel assistant editor Nelson Ribeiro and production artist Manny Mederos, who dedicated their free time to the project. Ribeiro explained that Blue Ear was a superhero recruited to be part of a “top super secret government agency called Inter-C.O.M.” His hearing device lets him hear “an ant hiccup on the other side of the country,” he explained. Ribeiro sent Smith an image of Blue Ear using his device to hear people who needed help. Blue Ear invented the hearing device in his home laboratory, Mederos added. He drew an image of Blue Ear — in the likeness of Smith — standing with his friend Hawkeye.

“The Blue Ear, along with the other superheroes of Inter-C.O.M., who are all special needs children, have banded together to use their new found powers to fight crime and teach the world that no matter who you are, everyone has a hero inside of them!” Ribeiro said.

While Blue Ear won’t be in any upcoming Marvel comics because he’s too busy paroling the city and listening for cries of help, he has been seen hanging out with Hawkeye. Rosemann joked that Blue Eye sometimes stops by the Avengers Academy, a training school where Hawkeye teaches young heroes who may join the Avengers team.

“But, (Blue Ear) only appears between the panels,” Rosemann said. “He’s crafty like that.”

D’Allesandro said that Smith now proudly wears his hearing aid. His school – which is for students with hearing loss – had a superhero week when they saw the artwork.

“I think on a personal level for the creative and editorial staff here at Marvel, 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,” Marvel editor Thomas Brennan said. “Our jobs are to make sure kids like Anthony believe in heroes, and we’ll do that job, whatever it takes.”

About Adam Bernstein

Adam Bernstein is the owner of The Hearing Professionals, Milwaukee's premier hearing healthcare facility. As the owner of The Hearing Professionals, Mr. Bernstein has over 20 years of experience in the hearing healthcare industry. He began his career in 1995 at GN Danavox, one of the largest hearing aid manufacturers in the world. After leaving Danavox, Mr. Bernstein opened two hearing healthcare offices in Chicago, IL. In 2001 he moved to Milwaukee, WI and opened The Hearing Professionals. In 2008 he added a second Wisconsin office in the town of Brookfield. Today The Hearing Professionals is the largest private audiology practice in SE Wisconsin. Mr. Bernstein has written numerous articles on hearing healthcare which has appeared in newspapers throughout the country and has been interviewed by news programs regarding advances in the hearing industry. Mr. Bernstein a member of Unitron’s Customer Advisory Board and a graduate of The University of Minnesota. You can email him at adam@icanhearthat.com and you can visit The Hearing Professionals at www.icanhearthat.com.

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