A mum used Hawkeye to inspire her hearing-impaired child

Representing those with disabilities therefore makes superheroes and their legacy all the more impactful.

They say our favorite superheroes can reveal what we want most from ourselves. Superheroes inspire hope, kindness and faith in the world. Representing those with disabilities therefore makes superheroes and their legacy all the more impactful. It’s what inspired Christina D’Allesandro to contact Marvel when her son, Anthony Smith, didn’t want to wear his hearing aid which the family calls “Blue Ear” because he thought superheroes didn’t have them. no need. As a precocious 4-year-old, all he wanted was to be like his heroes. Understanding, but frustrated because he still needed the hearing aid, Christina emailed Marvel to see if there was anyone she could show Anthony that he could look up to and who also uses a hearing aid.

As Centuryhearingaids.com reported, “Christina sent her heartfelt letter to the general catch-all ‘fan mail’ account that is shared by the Heroes group in the editorial,” editor-in-chief Bill Rosemann recalled. “She didn’t address it to anyone in particular and she even mentioned that it would probably end up in our spam filters, but she sent it anyway because Christina is one of the real hero of this story. It was his inspirational effort to help his son that touched so many of us here and moved us to action,” he continued. “I forwarded the e- email to the rest of the editorial staff, asking what we could do to help, wondering if anyone knew of any artists who would be willing to draw something for Anthony. And just like when Captain America shouted “Avengers Assemble,” the team sprang into action.

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A mounted Avenger, indeed, for Anthony. It is none other than Hawkeye who is hard of hearing and this since 1983 who figuratively came to the rescue. In Hawkeye Vol. 1 #4 by Mark Gruenwald and Brett Breeding, Clint Barton’s hearing was permanently damaged after fighting Crossfire. Throughout his time in the West Coast Avengers, Hawkeye also always had a hearing aid. He regularly wore a hearing aid throughout the comics he appeared in or was a part of until his death and came back to life in 2001. Then, in 2014, Hawkeye becomes hard of hearing again when the clown attacks him in Hawkeye #15 by Matt Fraction and David Aja. Fraction and Aja also incorporated a problem with American Sign Language into Hawkeye #19.

It was this knowledge of Hawkeye that resonated with Marvel VP-Editor Tom Brevoort, who is also a great resource for all things Marvel history. He sent a blanket of West Coast Avengers #1 by Roger Stern and Bob Hall to Christina so she can show Anthony. Tom Brevoort states that “I was able to find and very quickly send a jpg of the cover of WEST COAST AVENGERS #1 to Christina. I told her that not only do superheroes actually wear hearing aids, but that Hawkeye, a true Avenger, wears them and that if Anthony wore his, he would become an honorary Avenger.”

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Brevoort didn’t stop there and proved there’s a reason why Marvel is such a powerhouse in the comics and entertainment industries. They go above and beyond their fans’ expectations and are truly committed to inclusivity, diversity, and being a force for good like the heroes they create. Brevoort recalls “[Editor] Lauren Sankovitch shared the email with Nelson Ribeiro at Collected Editions, who then created his Mighty Marvel masterpiece featuring the bold Blue Ear,” the editor explains. “Then [editor] Tom Brennan contacted Manny Mederos of the Bullpen, who drew his superb team shot of Hawkeye and Blue Ear.

Blue Ear, named after the hearing aid Anthony uses, was created in Iron Man: sound effects by Marc Sumerak and Karl Moline. Iron Man features the character in the graphic novel and features a storyline involving Tony Stark hosting a gala to promote headphones that provide encryption capabilities and turn signals into music videos. However, where there is Tony Stark and a fanciful event, trouble is never too far behind. Blue Ear steps in to help Iron Man save the day, making him an Honorary Avenger. The comic also involved the Children’s Hearing Institute as presenters for the gala, which is another detail that added depth to the story.

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At the end of the comic featuring Blue Ear, Anthony got his own copy. He and his mother were more than delighted. “One of the best things about this whole experience was Christina telling us in a series of emails how excited Anthony was about art,” Rosemann points out. “He ran around with the pin-ups, showing them to his friends at school, which inspired the teachers to organize a ‘Dress like a Superhero’ event.” Anthony attends HEAR in New Hampshire, a school dedicated to teaching students who are hard of hearing.

Superheroes truly represent who we are, who we want to be, and restore our hope when we may not have any. These stories endure because they are the best versions of ourselves. That it was accessible to a four-year-old deaf boy made a difference in his life and in so many others. Hawkeye, in this case, has become more than a role model, but someone others can look up to. He inspired a new character created for a young boy in need of representation and that’s Marvel magic.

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