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Marvel launching poster campaign for hearing-impaired children

Anthony Smith as Blue Ear

Anthony Smith as Blue Ear

Marvel sprang into action last year to help convince a 4-year-old boy that, yes, superheroes do wear hearing aids, and now the publisher is taking the inspirational message to hearing-impaired children across the country.

As you may recall, Christina D’Allesandro reached out to Marvel last spring after her son Anthony Smith told he wasn’t going to use his hearing aid anymore because “superheroes don’t have blue ears.” The company responded first with evidence of Hawkeye’s hearing loss in the 1980s and then with artwork by Nelson Ribeiro and Manny Mederos depicting Anthony Smith as the superhero Blue Ear, who even has his own Wikipedia entry. The story was picked up by international media, leading D’Allesandro to receive emails from from across the globe from the parents of hearing-impaired children.

Now the New Hampshire Union Leader reports that D’Allesandro and Anthony are traveling to New York City today, where Marvel and hearing-aid manufacturer Phonak will unveil a poster featuring Iron Man that will be distributed to pediatric audiology clinics nationwide. Iron Man himself will be in attendance at the public presentation, held at the Center for Hearing and Communication.

The poster, which will be given to young patients, is described as a one-page comic based on a short story by Christos Gage and featuring the art of Paco Medina. In the story, a group of kids playing soccer are reluctant to allow a deaf classmate into the game until Iron Man arrives isn’t much different than they are — he only uses technology to help him be his best.

“We’re hoping people can see these posters and walk away feeling positive about hearing loss and those that rely on hearing aids,” Marvel Editor Bill Rosemann told the Union Leader.



Pay attention, DC. This is how you do public relations correctly. Good on Marvel. This is a wonderful idea. Anything that lessens the possibility of someone being left out of any activity because of a “difference” is a positive move.

Does Hawkeye still have his hearing problems these days? (Yes, I know I’m supposed to be reading it. Waiting for the trade.)

I don’t think Hawkeye’s hearing loss made it beyond the ’80s.

Yay! So glad he’s helping other kids too. Way to go Marvel and way to go Anthony!

Hawkeye got his hearing back when Franklin fixed the universe after onslaught, it falls in to the same retcon as teen tony and insect wasp,
When Franklin brought back the Avengers he did so based on how he remembered them,so he did not know Clint was deaf.

nice work, Marvel.

Follow up to @Alastair’s answer. My memory is not full proof, but if anyone is interested in tracking it down, I think that story is told in
Avengers Annual 2001.
Busiek was tying up a bunch of continuity loose ends and Hawkeye’s hearing was one of them.

Matt Fraction actually answered some questions about Clint’s hearing on his Tumblr recently. I’m not 100% sure, but I think the answer was that Clint is partially deaf (which is one of he reasons Clint isn’t sure about the languages in Hawkeye, because he’s lip-reading).

Very nice thing to do (when I read the story about the boy who wouldn’t wear his hearing aids, I teared up). Kind of confused as to why it’s only Iron Man, though. Why not a bunch of Avengers, including Clint?

Sadly their only deaf character Echo is currently dead >:(

Having a brother who is deaf makes this story very relate-able and a welcome nod to a group of people who don t get enough media attention in my opinion.

My Bro is a lifelong comics fan like me. Comics are one of the few things that a deaf person can experience almost 100% like anybody else. There isn’ t much lost in translation. A movie can have subtitles but he will inevitably miss out on things like sound effects, voices, & music. All of which can add a lot to a movie. A comic does not require those things. Thats the beauty of it.

Thank you for sharing this story and thank you MARVEL.

We proudly endorse you!

“Pay attention, DC. This is how you do public relations correctly. ”

Really, Matt? DC has NEVER done anything along these lines? Nothing like their recent “We Can Be Heroes” campaign to fight hunger? Nothing like that at all, huh?

Both companies have made “public relations” blunders in the past on so many different levels so please, if you’re going to be giving attention to anyone, it should be both companies. Or if you’re trying to showcase the good a company can do, then again, give attention to BOTH companies.


Andrew, I’m referring to the number of times recently that DC has shot themselves in the foot, public relations-wise. I know both companies do both good and bad things and I didn’t say they hadn’t. I’m merely pointing out that this is one of the good ones.

Bravo Marvel. Way to step up and include everyone in the awesomeness that is comics.

This couldn’t have come at a better time for our family! Definitely hit close to home. My husband and I have 6 children between the 2 of us and recently found out our 3 year old has some special needs which include his speech and hearing. No parent wants to hear that something is wrong with their child, fixable or not. Our son has been so scared at every appointment we have been to. Although we know.that others are going through the same thing or even worse it’s comforting to hear a story about a child close to the same age.

I hope this poster ends up in my son’s audiologist’s office!

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