Pinoy Komiks #5 (May 23, 1963)
Darna, Lastikman, Dyesebel
Kaptain Barbell; Enteng, Teng-Teng, Teng, Roberto
super-strength, super-speed, vision powers,
Captain Barbell is a fictional Filipino superhero created by writer Mars Ravelo-Toei Company and artist Jim Fernandez. He first appeared in Pinoy Komiks #5 (May 23, 1963). Like Darna, he also had an alter-ego named Tengteng, a thin, weakling and asthmatic person whose only dream was to become strong and muscular. He also appeared in Kampeon Komiks (Champion Comics).
The original version of Captain Barbell depicted him as shirtless because during the more whimsical comics age in the Philippines that occurred in the 1960s (Silver Age), Mars Ravelo based the good Captain's look on circus strongmen, but with the addition of a mask. Since the original Enteng's look was a really thin guy in a tank top (emphasizing his bony features), it was decided that Captain Barbell's "shirtless circus strongman" look could provide a much more dramatic contrast to his mortal persona. Recent comics depicted him wearing a long-sleeved yellow shirt instead of being shirtless. Captain Barbell is, modelled after the DC character, Captain Marvel (Shazam).
Ravelo vent out a sort of retaliation on the Captain Marvel character. This time, he admitted doing the spoofing himself, and out came Captain Barbell. He tailor-made the character Tenteng (Captain Barbell’s alter-ego), to Dolphy, who was then a comical skinny actor, as a pun or insult, as opposed to the matinee-idol type Billy Batson (Captain Marvel’s alter-ego). He specifically told illustrator Jim Fernandez about that, and you can see the obvious similarity between Dolphy and Tenteng in Fernandez’ drawings (“Captain Barbell,” Pinoy Komiks, 1963). He even intended the character to have a funny transformation, that Captain Barbell would turn into a skinny bungling superhero (Ravelo, however, later changed that story, which became “Captain Barbell vs. Flash Fifita”). Fortunately, Captain Barbell became a great hit and Dolphy made his character Tenteng quite a sensation. So, Ravelo changed his mind and continued the legacy of Captain Barbell.
In the original Captain Barbell komiks series (May 23, 1963 – June 18, 1964), and in the first movie, Tenteng was a laughable skinny young man very much maltreated by his four step-brothers, Bruno, Badong, Baldo and Banong. Tenteng’s full name as revealed by Ravelo in an interview was originally Penitente Mumolingot. According to Ravelo’s wife, she didn’t know about the “Mumolingot” surname but told that Tenteng was actually taken from the name of a tall lanky boy who bullied Ravelo as a kid.
In the original story, Tenteng released a genie from a bottle and in return the genie gave him three wishes. His first wish was for a fried chicken. His second wish was a barbell he alone can lift that possesses the power to transform him into a super being the moment he shouts “Captain Barbell” (much like “SHAZAM” in Captain Marvel). His third wish was for the genie to become small again. Unfortunately the genie got eaten by a cat.
The start of the story was filled with comedy (with Dolphy’s unequalled portrayal of Tenteng in the movie). The original Captain Barbell (portrayed by Bob Soler) had an eye mask and a real barbell made of “magical” solid gold. Captain Barbell and his alter-ego Tenteng each has a separate identity and portrayal. Tenteng is funny and a weakling while Captain Barbell is a serious character, and superstrong and invulnerable to any man-made weapons. He doesn’t, however, have superspeed as being portrayed on the television series. In fact, GMA 7’s adulterated version of Captain Barbell is almost entirely different from the original character, in storyline, costume and characterization.
Furthermore, after the power of the magical barbell left Tenteng (in the end of the original series), the barbell was thrown into the sea. In the succeeding series, the magical barbell re-emerged and found new rightful owners: Captain Barbel hence became the alter-ego of the limping Dario (“Captain Barbell Kontra Captain Bakal,” Pinoy Komiks, July 2, 1964), and the legless cigarette vendor Gomer (“Captain Barbell Versus Flash Fifita,” Liwayway, December 26, 1966).
There have actually been more than one person to assume the hero's identity throughout the years.
The first and most well-known of Captain Barbell's alter-egos, Tenteng is the name that we identify with the hero to this very day. However, we've been getting his story wrong all along.
As he appeared in the very first Captain Barbell serial (Pinoy Komiks, 1963–64), written by Ravelo and illustrated by Jim Fernandez, Tenteng was a thin, asthmatic young man who was constantly abused by his 4 thuggish half-brothers. Admiring the bodybuilders in his neighborhood, he longs for nothing more than to be strong and muscular himself so he can stand up for himself against his bullying brothers and impress the girl of his dreams. Naturally, Tenteng's fortunes change dramatically when he finds the magic barbell that transforms him into "Captain Barbell" (spelled with quotation marks back then). But here's where the story differs from the one we've known all this time. Because Tenteng doesn't get the barbell from an old hermit; he gets it from a genie. (spelled in the story as "Genii")
The original stories also established that Captain Barbell's power would remain with its host for as long as he was oppressed and in need of justice. At the end of the first series, CB separates himself from Tenteng once his personal issues were resolved, and the barbell is sent to the bottom of the sea, where it awaits the next person worthy of wielding its power.
Even the first colored remake in 1973, Captain Barbell Boom!, used the "genie" origin from the first serial (this version was also made into an animated TV show during the late 1980s).
In the second serial Captain Barbell Kontra Captain Bakal (Pinoy Komiks, 1964–65), by Ravelo and Fernandez, we meet Dario, a polio-stricken lad confined by his illness to a makeshift wheelchair (which looks more like a skateboard). Despite his condition, he works as a sweepstakes vendor, getting into various trouble on the mean streets in the process. Somewhere along the line, Dario gets thrown into the ocean, where he makes contact with the lost barbell and becomes the second person to turn into Captain Barbell. He goes on to battle the villain of the title, the robotic Captain Bakal ("Captain Iron" or "Captain Metal").
The third series, Captain Barbell Versus Flash Fifita, began in Liwayway in 1966. Set around the fishing village Baryo Dagundong, the protagonist this time around was Gomer, a crippled fisherman who had to take care of his 5 younger siblings.
There had been a few more Captain Barbell serials that followed, the last one running in the pages of Pilipino Komiks from 1985-86. Still written by Ravelo with art by Clem Rivera, it formed much of what the public knows about the character today. First of all, this version originated the familiar yellow costume that would be associated with CB for years to come. And then there's the title logo, whose basic design has been prominently used in filmed incarnations and merchandising up to now. And of course, it was here where the origin that everyone has come to know actually came from. We are introduced to a Tenteng analogue named Enteng, who receives the mystic barbell from a mysterious old man.
Captain Barbell has since been absent from the komiks pages—or at least, from the printed komiks pages. But from 2005, CB reappeared in Gilbert Monsanto's online fan-comic Digmaan ("War"), which featured him fighting alongside several classic and modern Pinoy comic book characters.
This interpretation is much closer in design to the original 1960's incarnation, but writer/artist Monsanto adds a new and unexpected twist to the character. You're not going to believe who Captain Barbell's new alter-ego turns out to be—Darna's not so little brother, the teenager Ding.
In previous Captain Barbell movies, the barbell which was given to Teng by an old man is the literal barbell that we know. However, in the TV series, the Barbell looks like a medallion with "CB" engraved on it. The name "Captain B" is also depicted on the medallion. Teng twists the medallion and it forms into a barbell, raises it and shouts "Captain Barbell" to change him into the superhero. The "barbell" is actually a power battery that grants him unlimited strength, the ability to fly, and that big yellow muscle suit he wears. As Captain Barbell, the medallion is depicted in his chest. To go back to his human form as Teng, he just grabs the medallion on his chest. Teng, however, can only use his natural powers for a short period of time before he gets exhausted. The medallion is said to be made from Barbanium, a powerful element discovered in the year 2016. Only an equally powerful Askobar can counter its power.
The superhero only had his mask, cape, belt—with the letter "CB" engraved on the buckle—and tight pants then. Originally, he was shirtless. The look was inspired by circus strongmen.
When he made his first cinema appearance in 1965, Bob Soler—the first to play the part—donned a yellow shirt with Captain Barbell's initials on his chest.
Richard Gutierrez' Captain Barbell suit in the 2006 TV series was designed by Filipino artist Reno Maniquis and was made by Miles Teves, a renowned Filipino-American costume maker in Hollywood.A while back Maniquis was tasked by Mars Ravelo Marvelous Characters, Inc. to re-design and do some illustrations for their character, Captain Barbell. Teves is credited for the Batman, Spiderman, Superman and Robocop costumes. He was commissioned by Zaldy and Gina Ravelo of Mars Ravelo Marvelous Characters, Inc. to design the new look to make it CB’s official costume. It was Dominic Zapata who suggested to the producers to have the costume made by Teves. Captain Barbell's updated suit is a far cry from the "Superman" inspired spandex tight fitting suit in shades of yellow, blue and red. The muscular costume is more inspired by the Batman's bulky costume, minus the mask and in shades of yellow for the suit, gold for CB logo and other embellishments, and red for the cape. The suit has a built-in cooling mechanism, so Richard is very comfortable inside it, to the point where he apparently lounges around the set wearing it, even between takes. The suit reportedly costs $50,000 excluding the charges for repairs in case of damages, making it the most expensive costume ever made for a single character in a Philippine movie or TV series, for that matter. GMA Network was so secretive about how the Captain Barbell costume looked that on the first taping day, Richard was made to put on a robe on top of the suit. It was only when he had to face the camera as Captain Barbell that everyone on the cast and crew had a chance to see the costume for the very first time.