Outside of Darna and Captain Barbell, there aren’t that many other Filipino superheroes who really hit the big time. There’s Dyesebel, a superhero mermaid who has been in quite a few movies (and who I might talk about later). However, the recent global domination of superhero movies had Pilipino production studios scrambling to mine other Mars Ravelo creations in their own attempt to brand their own Justice League (called Isang Lakas, which translates to “One Strength.”)
And that’s why, in 2009, the Philippines got live action version of a very goofy superhero named Flash Bomba.
Flash Bomba, created in 1967 and appeared in all of 8 issues, was the alter ego of Roldan Legazpi… a man who had lost the ability to walk due to an accident. He trained the rest of his body to compensate, and thus became a phenomenal athlete.
One day, he comes across a tikbalang: a creature from Filipino mythology who has the head of the horse and the body of a man. Despite his physical shortcomings, Roldan beats the tikbalang in battle and is granted superpowers as a reward. But! Dealing with weird mythological creatures has traditionally come with a price. In Roldan’s case, he also gets to look… utterly ridiculous! He gets magic tikbalang hair (which is a punk purple dye job), giant hands, and giant feet!
But those hands though. Clap them, and he can summon the mighty thunderclap. He also has superhuman strength and wall crawling abilities. And, as a cherry on top, he also has the ability to summon devil horses on command. He chooses “Flash Bomba” as his superhero name. BECAUSE!
I totally love this guy. It’s hard to pin an equivalent American hero. You might be thinking Plastic Man…. but SURPRISE! There’s actually a direct analogue to that guy in the Philippines (named “Lastik Man”). Maybe he’s close to a pre-furry Beast? The effects for a dude with big hands (and feet) can only look absolutely awful, and they do. Points for trying, though.
Incidentally, that Filipino Justice League project I mentioned earlier seems to have gotten shelved, along with the enthusiastically titled Darna Meets Captain Barbell. (They opted for a pair of individual movies instead.) I have no idea how that movie would’ve gone down, but it sounds more pleasant than our American version of two great superheroes meeting for the first time.