Hawi is a historical fantasy that is set in modern-day Ethiopia and draws from the mysteries of the kingdoms and queendoms of Ethiopia's rich past. It is a beautiful interweaving of the past and the present.
The work is a signature style for Etan Comics founder, Beserat Debebe, who released his first comic Jember, the first ever Ethiopian superhero comic which explored the ancient East African civilization known as the Kingdom of Punt last year.
"The fact that Hawi is Ethiopian means a lot to me," Debebe told OkayAfrica.
Hawi centers around a female superhero, a young Ethiopian woman named Ement Legesse, who is tasked with having to rescue her mother after she's abducted. It follows the story of Ement Legesse, a young Ethiopian woman living in America with her mother.
"I wish I had seen an Ethiopian superhero growing up," he says. "I would have embraced my ability to make a difference earlier and acted on it."
In the opening scenes of the comic book, it becomes apparent that Ement desperately wants to visit Ethiopia on a guided tour but her mother is against the idea.
According to her, Ement can barely speak their native Ahmaric language and fears for her safety given that numerous young girls have been abducted in Ethiopia. It's quite clear that Ement is frustrated by her mother's refusal to allow her to visit her home country.
The colorful visuals are stunning and showcase Debebe's talented team of African artists and their unique ability to capture the vibrancy of Ethiopia. A story about returning to one's roots and having the courage to rise above the challenges that come with seeking reconciliation and belonging, it's one we can all relate to whether literally or figuratively.
For the 29-year-old creator of Etan Comics, having an Ethiopian superhero is meant to normalize the idea that Ethiopians and Africans in general can have an impact on the world.
"Most of the time, the way we think about ourselves is the main barrier to our own progress," he says.
His biggest hope is that all of his superhero characters take away these barriers and allow boundless imagination among African youth.
"And have as much fun as possible doing it!" he adds.
Hawi is almost complete although Debebe has set up a kickstarter to ensure that the remaining costs of production are covered. The comic book will be available in both Ahmaric and English translations.