SALEM — Many young boys want to become superheros when they grow up.
But only one boy can say he actually is one — at least according to Marvel Comics.
His name is Anthony Smith, 4, of Salem, aka "The Blue Ear." He's featured on his own special comic book cover designed by Marvel.
Anthony, who is hearing impaired, recently told his mother he didn't want to wear his blue hearing aid — nicknamed "Blue Ear."
Christina D'Allesandro was a little worried.
"He said, 'Mummy, Superheroes don't wear Blue Ears," D'Allesandro said yesterday. "He sounded sad."
It was the first time Anthony acknowledged he was a little different than other children, D'Allesandro said.
Anthony, the grandson of longtime New Hampshire state Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, has a rare genetic disorder — mosaic trisomy 22. It's left him with limited hearing and other health complications, including a hole in his heart.
To make Anthony feel better, D'Allesandro told him superheroes wear hearing aids just like anybody else.
But she didn't know if that was true. She even contacted Marvel Comics to ask if there were any superheroes with hearing problems. Marvel is best known for creating characters such as Spider-Man, the X-Men and Captain America — Anthony's favorite.
D'Allesandro never expected to hear back from the company. She, husband Kevin Smith, 6-year-old son Dominic and Anthony were thrilled to receive a response.
Marvel Comics editor Bill Rosemann sent the family a 1980s cover of the character Hawkeye of the Avengers, who wore a hearing aid after injuring his ear.
Rosemann also sent a special cover drawing of Anthony as a superhero named Blue Ear, who — thanks to his "special listening device" — helps people when he hears they are in trouble.
They were then sent a third drawing of Blue Ear and Hawkeye together. The drawings changed Anthony's entire perspective of his disability.