Anthony Smith, 4 years old, is deaf in his right ear and partially deaf in his left. Although he loves Marvel Comics' larger-than-life characters, he decided he couldn't be like them as long as he wore the "blue ear," as he and his family had dubbed his hearing aid. He told his mother, Christine D'Allessandro, that he wouldn't wear the device anymore because heroes don't wear hearing aids.
D'Allessandro e-mailed Marvel Comics about her son and asked if there were any superheroes with hearing loss she could use to inspire Anthony to wear his "blue ear." A Marvel senior vice president soon pointed out that the character Hawkeye—one of the Avengers—had lost his hearing during an adventure in the 1980s, after which he wore hearing aids.
But Marvel staff went further, creating a new character, Blue Ear, after the family's name for Anthony's device, and featuring the hero in his own comic. They followed it up with a comic book teaming Hawkeye with Blue Ear.
And the effect on young Anthony? His mother reports he's wearing his hearing device again, so he can be like Blue Ear and hear people's cries for help. For more, visit Marvel's website.