The GeeksverseBlue Ear is no Human Fly

Blue Ear is no Human Fly
Published on Saturday, June 2, 2012 by

Marvel comics has created a deaf superhero to help inspire a young super-fan to wear his own hearing aid. It is a sweet story reported this morning on CBS News even if it does show an ignorance of their own printing history at the modern Marvel.

Parenting can be tricky in the best situation. A mother was stumped when her hearing impaired child refused to wear his hearing aid because, as he reasoned, superheros didn’t wear them.  The mother–in a well meaning lie–pointed out that Captain America has a hearing head under the cowl. In an effort to make the lie plausible she emailed Marvel. Without knowing anyone at Marvel, she just emailed them in general. The email found its way to Marvel assistant editor Nelson Riberiro.

Ribeiro then assembled his own super-team which included Manny Mederos. Marvel assistant editor Nelson Ribeiro and production artist Manny Mederos, who dedicated their free time to the project. Ribeiro told HealthPop that Blue Ear was a superhero recruited to be part of a “top super secret government agency called Inter-C.O.M.” His hearing device lets him hear “an ant hiccup on the other side of the country,” he explained. Ribeiro sent Smith an image of Blue Ear using his device to hear people who needed help. Blue Ear invented the hearing device in his home laboratory, Mederos added. He drew an image of Blue Ear standing with his friend the Avenger Hawkeye.That’s a lot of effort to sate a 4-year old.

This morning on CBS Saturday Morning the young family and Marvel helpers gathered around the table. They reviewed the sweet story. Mederos qualified their effort by a loving Marvel wanting to help.  Mederos also mentioned that Hawkeye was included since everyone knows the Avenger from the recent film–even though this is a different looking version given as a present to a non-reading four year old.

On the show Ribeiro presented another piece of art, depicting the young Blue Ear hearing his mother call him in for dinner.

It is a touching story of the comic company using their properties to help a family in need. Unfortunately, it does miss the disabled hero in its own publishing history. Daredevil is publicly blind and accommodating. During the M.B. Bendis run on Daredevil David Mack created Echo a stylized assassin that was counterpart to Daredevil in her feats and limitations as  a deaf hero.

a real life hero

Real Life Daredevil Hero

Additionally, this more recent example isn’t the only time Marvel has featured characters with specific limitations.My favorite disability title was Human Fly–a different type of hero because he was real. I am a huge fan of the zany Canadian inspired limited Marvel comic.  I have to admit that I believe myself in the minority that remembers a previous Marvel comic title Human Fly.  The 1977 -1979 comic The Human Fly is not exactly a book that made a huge cultural contribution. It is not a comic property that spun off a TV show, cartoon, featured film, or toys.  The title was unique because it was based on a real person, a Canadian stuntman with a gimmick mask that seemed similar to the modern luchedor. The Human Fly was a man of mystery, a masked hero and daredevil, severely injured during a car crash that vowed to entertain from behind his mask forever in the first issue of the short lived comic.  As the Human Fly, he performed daredevil stunts to benefit various charities, especially those helping children with disabilities. In every installment are characters with numerous disabilities and villains bent on exploiting them in some manner. Unless you’re a Rick Rojatt–the real life Human Fly– fan then you’ve probably never heard of this odd Marvel-Rojatt partnership. Jim Shooter was an editor at the time, and was also bringing US1, Team America, and other odd corporate partnerships to comics. Human Fly was a short lived comic that has since lapsed out of the public imagination, replaced by Evil Kineval turned generic properties like Team America, lampoonish daredevils like Super Dave Osborne, and other more successful human Crash Test Dummies. Along with forgetting the brief series, is also an ignorance of the disability focused stories–including a couple of youngsters without hearing aids on a runaway blimp.

Perhaps the archaic references–and to a four year old anything older than this summer is ancient–would prove too old fashion to hold his attention. Blue Ear to the rescue!

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