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February 23, 2013

Comic book character brings fame to Salem boy

SALEM, N.H. — Superheroes aren’t supposed to be recognized when they are their alter ego. But Anthony Smith, 5, doesn’t mind.

Anthony, who is hearing impaired, is the inspiration for The Blue Ear, a superhero created by Marvel Comics. The Blue Ear has helped the Salem youngster become a celebrity in his own right.

“Adults who are comic book fans will recognize him a lot,” said Anthony’s mother, Christina D’Allesandro. “Once in awhile, kids will even recognize him and that gets him excited.”

Anthony’s fame has brought him some big opportunities.

Next weekend, Anthony and his family will head to New York City for the unveiling of a new Iron Man poster, which is geared toward children who are hearing impaired.

The poster will be presented to Anthony by Iron Man at the Center for Hearing and Communication.

“When he heard he’d be going to New York, he was like, That’s great,’” D’Allesandro said. “But when he heard he would get to meet Iron Man, that is when he really got excited.”

The trip to New York is just part of what has been a whirlwind year for Anthony and his family.

In May, Anthony told his mother one day he didn’t want to wear his blue hearing aid because none of his comic book heroes wore them.

D’Allesandro then wrote to Marvel Comics, asking if there were any hearing-impaired superheroes.

Marvel sent back a series of drawings, showing several characters who wore hearing aids. It even sent a custom-designed comic book cover featuring Anthony — dressed in a superhero costume as Blue Ear.

It changed Anthony’s entire perspective of his hearing impairment, no longer making him feel self-conscious, D’Allesandro saisd.

“It makes us feel good that someone is enjoying these stories and can be an inspiration to kids,” said Bill Rosemann, an editor at Marvel Comics. “We just really feel honored that the things we create have an impact on someone.”

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