- Associated Press - Saturday, January 23, 2016

VOORHEES, N.J. (AP) - Marvel Universe villains better watch out. There’s a new superhero in town.

Iron Max plays an important part in the latest edition “Invincible Iron Man” comic book from Marvel.

In the comic, Tony Stark - the man behind the iron armor - meets 5-year-old Max during a visit to a child’s hospital. The boy’s day is made when Stark makes him a custom armor reconfiguration to wear. When Doctor Doom shows his face, Iron Max and Iron Man stand together to stare the villain down.

Iron Max’s real-life counterpart is a Voorhees boy battling his own arch nemesis, according to the Courier-Post of Cherry Hill (https://on.cpsj.com/1nFStGJ).

As a baby, Max Levy was diagnosed with hemophilia A - a disorder that affects the blood’s ability to clot properly, often leading to dangerous internal bleeding from routine things like minor cuts and dental procedures, and traumatic injuries.

In 2014, Max needed to undergo surgery to have a disk port implanted in his chest as part of treatment. His father needed an easy way to break the news.

Max and his father Dan Levy had just watched the first “Iron Man” movie and thought about a scene in the movie when Stark has to take the failing Arc Reactor out of his chest and replace it with a new one.

“During the scene Max was flipping out saying, ‘This is the coolest thing ever!’” Levy said.

“While on a ride to school, I asked Max if he remembered the scene and I said, ‘That’s what you’re getting. You’re going to have a metal disk in your chest just like Iron Man had,’” Levy recalled.

Max’s response was overwhelming.

“I get to be ‘Iron Man?’” Max asked his father.

“He didn’t go into school that day thinking I’m going to have surgery or I’m going to have a hole in my chest or any other negative thoughts. Instead, he went into school telling his friends he was going to be ‘Iron Man.’”

During the surgery, Dan took to Twitter to keep friends and family up to date on Max’s surgery and condition, using the #IRONMAX hashtag.

“I just thought it was something clever to do. Just replace the ‘N’ with an ‘X’ and we have a new superhero,” Dan said.

Soon after, Max’s photos and progress on social media went viral.

Within weeks of the surgery, Marvel reached out to Max and his dad about bringing “Iron Max” into the comic realm. “Iron Man” writer Brian Michael Bendis gave Levy the news his son would be appearing in the comic.

“As soon as Bendis told me it was happening, I went to work to get him as many photos of Max as possible,” Dan said. “Of course, I screamed out to my wife, ‘They’re doing it!’ But then it was strictly work mode to send them thousands of photos of Max to use.”

Max said he jumped for joy when he heard the news about being featured in the comic.

“It’s awesome,” Max said. “I was like, ‘Yeah!’” he added, jumping up and down. He hopes to enter the Marvel Universe again to team up with “Iron Man” once more.

Max wasn’t only honored by Marvel. He was also honored by his 8-year-old sister Zoe, who wanted to raise money to fight hemophilia.

Max and Zoe worked together to create Hearts 4 Hemophilia, raising more than $6,000 for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where Max was a patient.

“I was thinking what to do to raise money and I wanted to include my friends,” Zoe said. “Finally I thought to make a calendar so I asked my friends to take photos for the calendar.”

“All of the pictures in our calendar were taken by kids in grade school. All of my friends, and some of my family too, wanted to help raise awareness for hemophilia.”

Along with making a cameo in cartoon-form, a photo of Max was featured at the end of the comic with a special shout out from Marvel.

“Say hello to 5-year-old Max Levy, a young kid who’s making a big difference,” the caption reads. “Since heroes belong in comic books, we couldn’t resist giving Max a cameo in ours!”

Levy is happy to see the attention Iron Max is getting.

“I can’t believe how many people reached out, not just friends and family or local people but people who have hemophilia, people who have kids with hemophilia who have been inspired by us and have bought the comic. It’s been really awesome.”

“He spent every day being told he couldn’t do certain things. Now it’s like, dude, you’re a superhero, you can do whatever you want.”

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