Today’s guest post is by Glenmarc F. Antonio, whose Flash memorabilia collection has previously been featured here on Speed Force in our first Collector’s Showcase.
My name is Glenmarc F. Antonio, and I’m Flash. That makes me the Fastest Man Alive. Well, not really.
I’m actually a 30-something Digital Media specialist for the Philippine’s largest telco provider. In my heyday, I was one of the fastest runners in my company, and was fairly athletic, having competed in basketball at a varsity level back in college. My self-confessed similarities to the Flash’s (superhuman) speed however do not end there.
An introduction with the Scarlet Speedster
I got introduced to the Scarlet Speedster when I was really young, having watched and loved the live-action Flash TV series starring John Wesley Shipp in the late 90s-early 2000s when it was shown in the local channel. The moment I saw that golden lightning emblazoned across John’s chest as the opening credits were shown (plus Danny Elfman’s masterful The Flash theme song), I fell in love with the character. For me, Shipp was THE Flash. His portrayal of Barry Allen (with a subtle mix of Wally West) was in my honest opinion, absolutely on-point. I watched all of the episodes and didn’t mind re-runs. Seeing him running in his bright red suit was a joy. I wanted to be him. No, I wanted to be The Flash.
I guess I have my mom to blame as well. Being the very 1st geek in the family, my mother Ruby introduced me to the world of comics, as she was the one who bought me my 1st title (Jim Lee’s X-men #1), and over the years, has steadily maintained and monitored my voracious consumption of comicbook geekery. I still remember when she gave me the Death Of Superman TPB as a gift when I graduated from grade school school. Yes, that’s how geeky she is. From there, I have shuttled between fandoms, Marvel and DC Comics (and for a brief period, Image Comics).
Over time, I saw myself being more of a DC-fan long after the live-action TV series was cancelled. I have always been pro-mutant given my X-men roots, but I have grown to appreciate the Justice League and its many incarnations. And while the comics have already focused on Wally West taking over the cowl of The Flash since Barry’s apparent demise in the 80s mega-crossover “Crisis On Infinite Earths”, I still hoped that Barry would come back. That he would be The Flash again.
“We meet again, old friend”
Fast forward to about 6 years after I graduated from grade school. I have since completed 4 years of high school and while it was one of the geekiest times of my life (I got introduced to console gaming, RPGs, Magic The Gathering, etc), my fandom for The Flash lay dormant. While I have utmost respect for Wally West and his run as The Flash (as well as his fans), Barry was still the definitive Flash for me.
Two years into college, and after having been selected to play for my university’s Men’s Basketball Varsity Team, I got reintroduced to the Flash fandom. It was during one of my regular trips to the neighborhood computer rental shop that I noticed that the shop owner kept a collection of DC action figures, and a loose but complete The Flash from the Total Justice line produced by Kenner got me staring at the counter (where it was prominently displayed). Since I was friends with the owner, I managed to buy the figure off him after numerous attempts (action figure collecting wasn’t that much of a boom yet back in 1998 here in the Philippines).
Now a proud owner of my very first The Flash action figure, I began to look for more to add to my collection – hence the start of my Flash Museum project. As long as a Flash item was official DC merchandise, it became part of the Flash stash. I slowly began acquiring Flash collectibles in 2nd year of college, and expanded my collection to cover comicbooks, keychains, shirts, mugs, and other Flash-themed novelty items. [Editor’s note: Speed Force featured Glenmarc’s collection in our very first Collector’s Showcase article!]
Other than material possessions, I have slowly ingrained my fandom into playing sports. Since I was barely of average Filipino male height, I had to rely on my speed to play competitive basketball. I wasn’t really much of a leaper as well, so my quickness was key to everything that I did on the court. The local Flash was born.
After having graduated from university studies and having since worked with three companies, I have already amassed a good number of Flash collectibles and was steadily building my reputation for speed (in playing sports). Sometime between 2001-2003, I was then invited to join a local group of hobbyists to display our DC collectibles (Gerry Sibal for Superman, Richard Cadiz for Batman, Matto Garcia for Wonder Woman, Ricky Tinio for Green Lantern, Dan Castro for everything else DC, and me for Flash) during the local launch of Justice League The Animated Series here in the Philippines in Shangri-La Mall.
I was now recognized as unofficially, one of the biggest Flash collectors in the country – with a good buddy, Joe Dy being the other one. (Sidenote: His Flash collection is also one of the best, and very impressive with his statues and mini-busts).
Life in the fast lane
Because of my Flash fandom, I became more exposed to TV features and interviews. At least two local TV stations have visited my house to gather footage of my Flash collectibles and I was blessed to be introduced to a lot of influential and important personalities in the local hobby scene. Stints in local hobby conventions and publication features (magazine and newspaper interviews) for my Flash stash and other action figure lines (I collected a host of other toylines as well – GI Joes, TMNT, LOTR, etc) were fairly common and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. It was really (pun-intended) a rush.
In the workplace, I have used Flash as my nickname. While my boss and close friends still call me by my first name, more and more people have been referring to me as Flash (including funny references to Flash Gordon, Flash David – a former professional basketball player for the PBA, and Flash Elorde – deceased professional Filipino boxer). I was still very much into basketball, and was still able to utilize my speed to contribute to my team’s amazing run of 6 championships in 8 years for the company’s annual hoop tournament.
After settling down (early) in 2001, I was blessed with two kids, Dylan Rose Alexis (girl) and Dwaynemarc Rohan (boy). My youngest somewhat became my Kid Flash. He was into it as much as I was! Flash t-shirts, shoes, and yes – even a Flash costume for the company-sponsored Trick or Treat celebration. Fun times, indeed.
Crisis and Blackest Night
Not all was peachy in my life though. In 2010, I hit rock-bottom after a nasty marital separation with the woman that I was with for almost 10 years. Forced to move out from the house, and totally away from my kids, I was devastated. I was – in superhero terms – de-powered.
I lost hope and was desperate. Too desperate in fact, that I was suicidal. Crazy times. Everything was in shambles, and it took its toll on me. Suddenly, I wasn’t too happy to play basketball anymore. My geekery was waning. With the need to transfer to a new home, my Flash items were stored in large plastic containers. Slowly, I am not too keen about being The Flash anymore. Priorities and practicality took over fandom.
Around this time, Geoff John’s “Blackest Night/Brightest Day” run was happening in the comicbook scene. Forcing myself to living normally again after 3 months of self-imposed “mourning”, I started reading the said widely-acclaimed series. One thing struck me hard – Barry Allen’s transformation into the Blue Lantern – the avatar of hope.
After Barry’s successful return as The Flash in Flash: Rebirth (following Hal Jordan in Green Lantern: Rebirth) sometime around late 2000, I was ecstatic. My hero is back. Barry’s here again! However, things got dark after my personal issues and my Flash fandom took a backseat. The storyline about the Blue Lantern Flash made me realize – despite it being from a geeky perspective – that I can still move forward. The line “Barry Allen of Earth, you have the ability to instill great hope..welcome to the Blue Lantern Corps” gave ME just that – HOPE.
My frequent Facebook exchanges with SpeedForce.Org’s Devin “The Flash” Johnson (there ARE a lot of Flashes internationally, of course…LOLs) helped me recover from the depression. I had to endure. I had to move on. And eerily, my fandom helped me. It kept me sane. It allowed me get back up, to move forward, and run towards the better things in life.
Barry Allen continued to inspire me…and gave me great hope.
Keep reading in part two!