MEET THE BLUE EAR:
Well, Marvel has a new disabled hero! He has a super hearing aide! Did you read the linked article? It’s interesting to me how the artist picked up the West Coast Avengers #1 and pointed out that Hawkeye lost his hearing and had to wear a hearing device. In my opinion, Marvel has always been more disability-friendly because of their focus on how ordinary people make the best of what they’re given. They already have Professor X and Daredevil as visibly disabled heroes, and now the Blue Ear shows us a hero for the deaf community, and Anthony Smith himself!
The artist recalls that even Anthony’s name sounded like a superhero name: “The Blue Ear”. As it says in the article, Anthony’s mom even said that her suggestion would probably not make it past the spam filters. Everyone wants to be a hero these days.
But, I think all that I can really say is growing up as a 90s kid and watching the X-men cartoon, I was certainly inspired by Professor X. When you see someone acting as a hero who has your disability (or uses your assistive device, anyway.) That person becomes someone to look up to. This was certainly one smart mom to go and contact Marvel to give her son a hero. I think as a disabled person, for me personally, I often feel like I have to try extra-hard to perform at the super-level. It’s nice to know that Professor X is there, in my struggles, as is the Blue Ear for the Deaf community.
I think the reason for Marvel’s success with disability themes is that, aside from a diverse roster of heroes like Professor X and Daredevil, who are visibly disabled; most of the Marvel origin stories are about accidents from which the superhero gains powers. That's a constant Marvel theme: Spider-Man bit by a spider, Wolverine's skeleton replaced with adamantium steel, the X-men are all mutants who face discrimination. They teach us to cope, and how to turn apparent tragedies into strengths. A character like the Blue Ear would already have friends around who could relate to him; including Anthony, who will no doubt look up to him as a role model to go beyond his limits and be a hero. Marvel has always had a better track record with disabled characters, I will say, as opposed to DC. But, by no means is this meant to turn into a Marvel vs. DC thing. I’ve seen a quadriplegic hero in an independent comic called The Silver Scorpion. The superhero landscape is changing, and it appears to include disabled heroes too, as well.
When I as a kid saw Professor X fighting for mutant civil rights, in my mind, he was also fighting for disability rights. His disability honed his superpower that much more. I can’t think of a better role model than The Blue Ear! Also, after you’ve checked out the above article, be sure to check out some old articles I made exploring disabilities in Marvel animated movies! They were published in the VSA Cleveland Newsletter in Fall of 2012, so you know they’re good! Well, excelsior, Blue Ear! Welcome to the Marvel Universe!
HULK VS.: http://christopherbowsman.blogspot.com/2012/07/bruce-banner-i-know-thee-to-be-man-of.html
AVENGERS 2: RISE OF THE PANTHER (2006): http://christopherbowsman.blogspot.com/2012/07/ultimate-avengers-2-rise-of-panther.html
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN (2007): http://christopherbowsman.blogspot.com/2012/07/invincible-iron-man-2007.html
NEXT AVENGERS: http://christopherbowsman.blogspot.com/2012/07/next-avengers-heroes-of-tomorrow.html
DR. STRANGE: http://christopherbowsman.blogspot.com/2012/07/doctor-strange-2007.html