Last year, Marvel received a letter from the mother of a young fan, Anthony Smith, who had hearing difficulties, and had been told by doctors that he would require a hearing aid. The mother was wondering if there were any heroes who had ever had hearing difficulties, who might serve as the inspiring spark for Anthony to accept the hearing device.
On getting the letter, editor Bill Rosemann not only pointed her to Hawkeye, who has in the past suffered from hearing problems, but also spread the letter to the Marvel offices.
And that’s what led Marvel to create a new character called The Blue Ear, who doesn’t let his hearing problems stop him from saving the day. Created with Marvel staffers Manny Mederos and Nelson Ribeiro, the character is based on Anthony himself. You can read Blue Ear’s origin story in my original post announcing the character,
Now, though! That’s not the end of The Blue Ear’s work with Marvel. Last month Marvel held a special event honouring him, as they partnered with Phonak, a hearing aid supplier. Anthony and his family were invited along, as Marvel unveiled a new poster which will be distributed nationally, in which we see Iron Man meet a young boy who is being bullier for having a hearing aid. Written by Christos Gage and drawn by Paco Medina, the poster encourages people to never feel like they should be ashamed of their disability:
The event also saw Iron Man attend in person – awfully nice of him to teleport over from the 616 Universe – and meet Anthony. After receiving a copy of the poster from Iron Man, the Avenger also then gave him a second gift – an Iron Man costume of his own.
Which, he immediately put on.
As I said last time – isn’t it now time for The Blue Ear to join The Avengers?
This is really cool. I also have hearing aides and not needing good hearing to enjoy them is part of what made me love them so much.
This poster collaboration between Marvel and Phonak was NOT a good move on Marvel’s part. It’s insensitive and demeaning, because it sends the message that deafness makes you lesser of a person, and that you can only be normal and happy if you can hear again – which, I assure you, does not happen in many cases with hearing aids. I have no issues with what Marvel did for this particular kid, but this poster is going to be disseminated widely and be seen by many children for whom hearing aids don’t work. Imagine being a child who can’t hear, who can’t understand speech even with a hearing aid, sitting there looking at that poster with its implicit message that you can’t perform better or be happy if you can’t hear even with the “aid” of technology. How painful.
I wrote a column about this before I saw the exact poster. I suggest you read it and the comments below it at http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-933554 and think real long and hard about the messages this poster is sending to children who should always be told they are wonderful human beings in the first place, even without technology.
This collaboration between Phonak and Marvel is exciting. Children with hearing aids are often ridiculed or shunned by their classmates. As I talk with teachers, students, speech language pathologists and other school staff that work with the children (and to whom I have supplied these posters and the story behind them), children that previously would take off their hearing aids and hide them or refuse to wear them are now embracing their technology. The message is not that hearing aids make you “normal” – it is that technology is a tool that can help them. No technology out there can make everything perfect – but it is a valuable tool for children with hearing loss. The message that my kids get from these posters is that everyone is special and valued – no matter what obstacles they may have to deal with. I am just excited to see my children embrace their technology and wear their hearing aids – and to see their classmates supporting them – and indeed encouraging them as well! Thank you Marvel and Phonak!
Anyone know if and where I can get one of those posters or anything featuring the blue ear? My son is 6 and we recently found out he will have to have hearing aids for the rest of his life, and it has been really hard on him. When I told him about The Blue Ear he perked up, he was so excited to know there is a superhero just like him.
I think it is a wonderful thing Marvel has done for hearing impaired people with this character. I hope they will create a full comic book series with him, I would love to see more of him. I have a hearing impaired son who is now grown but has suffered from a major inferiority complex due to his disability. If this character had been around when he was little, I believe he would have loved him and drawn inspiration from him, and who knows, he ver well still might!
I think it is a wonderful thing Marvel has done for hearing impaired people with this character. I hope they will create a full comic book series with him, I would love to see more of him. I have a hearing impaired son who is now grown but has suffered from a major inferiority complex due to his disability. If this character had been around when he was little, I believe he would have loved him and drawn inspiration from him, and who knows, he very well still might!
I am a kid with hearing aids and I’m a 8 years old kid I saw the hawk eye comics but I’m to young for it.So can you send me and all the other comic shops a superhero comic with a superhero that has hearing aids for my age?
Comments are closed.