4-year-old Anthony Smith is completely deaf in his right ear and has only 50% hearing in his left. One morning, he told his mother he didn't want to wear his hearing aid anymore -- because superheros don't have hearing aids.
Hawkeye and Blue Ear: Marvel Comics creates a hearing-impaired superhero in honor of deaf boy
Smith's mom, Christina D'Allessandro, wrote in to Marvel Comics with a plea. Could anyone find a hearing-impaired superhero for her son to encourage him to wear his hearing aid?
Marvel Comics editor William Rosemann recalls getting the email and taking up the mission.
"If there's one thing we know, it's what Stan Lee and Spiderman taught us," he says. "With great power there must also come great responsibility. Which means if we have the ability, we must do whatever we can to help others."
"Back in the 80's, the Avenger Hawkeye damaged his hearing," he says. "I said, right, I read that comic when I was younger. Hawkeye hurt his ear in an adventure, and he had to wear two hearing aids."
Two of his artists went further: they took the project home and drew a new character to partner with Hawkeye -- a new character which they called Blue Ear after Anthony's name for his hearing device.
"If Anthony wears his hearing aid, he'll be an honorary Avenger," explains Rosemann, smiling.