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Remember Blue Ear, the costumed character created in 2012 by Marvel to convince then 4-year-old Anthony Smith that superheroes do wear hearing aids? Well, now meet Sapheara, a pint-sized superheroine with cochlear implants.
She teams with Iron Man and Blue Ear in Sound Effects, a new comic by Marvel Custom Solutions and the Children’s Hearing Institute of New York that addresses cochlear implants, bullying, hearing-loss awareness and hearing-loss prevention. It will be distributed later this month to about 150,000 students in grades 3 through 7 in the New York City area.
Every hero needs to experience their first team-up, and Anthony Smith, a.k.a. Blue Ear, got to do that this past week. It didn’t start with the typical fight that such meetings usually start with, but then again, this wasn’t a typical team-up.
Last year Anthony’s mom, Christina D’Allesandro, reached out to Marvel after her son Anthony Smith told he wasn’t going to use his hearing aid anymore because “superheroes don’t have blue ears.” Marvel Editor Bill Rosemann 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.
The story caught the attention of media and families with hearing-impaired children. It also caught the eye of Phonak, the largest distributor of hearing aids in the world. They worked with Marvel Custom Solutions, which regularly works with companies and organizations to create custom comics, on a poster that’s being distributed to pediatric audiology clinics. Written by Christos Gage and drawn by Paco Medina, the poster features Iron Man and a hearing-impaired boy who just wants to be treated like any other kid.
And this past week, Blue Ear attended an event at the Center for Hearing and Communication to debut the poster — as well as to meet fellow superhero Iron Man.
“When Christina told us about Anthony, she taught us about some of the unique challenges that children who wear hearing aids face,” Rosemann told Marvel.com. “When our friends at Phonak heard about how the Marvel heroes helped him, they realized how together we could help spread the message even further.”
Check out the poster below, and head over to Marvel.com to see more pictures of Blue Ear and Iron Man’s first team-up.
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.