Christian Holub
June 01, 2017 AT 03:53 PM EDT

Summer 2017 marks the launch of many new comic series. Some, like DC’s Dark Days, are preludes to big crossovers down the line, but other series, like Iceman and Secret Weapons, are turning a spotlight on characters often left unrecognized in the superhero universes.

Check out EW’s recommendations for what comics to check out this month below.

Batman #25 (DC)
Tom King (writer), Mikel Janin (artist)

Few of Batman’s most popular enemies have appeared in Tom King’s run on Batman so far. But after a long battle with Bane, a brief Watchmen crossover, and a Swamp Thing standalone, Gotham City is getting back to basics this month. King and artist Mikel Janin wind the clock back to the immediate aftermath of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s “Zero Year” story. Thus begins the untold story of a war between the Joker and the Riddler. Enter “The War of Jokes and Riddles”: A concept and name so great, it’s kind of crazy no one thought of it before.

Dark Days: The Forge #1 (DC)
Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV (writers), Andy Kubert & Jim Lee & John Romita Jr. (artists)

DC’s much-anticipated Watchmen crossover event, The Doomsday Clock, will hit stands later this year, but that’s not the only massive event on DC’s schedule. This one-shot will set the ground for this summer’s Dark Nights: Metal, a blockbuster event series from the fan-favorite duo of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Those two spearheaded a beloved six-year Batman run, and as you might expect, Batman features heavily in what’s going on here. The Dark Knight is up to something again, and his fellow heroes are starting to get suspicious of Batman’s secret plans. The fallout will be much more expansive than any of them can imagine.

Darth Vader #1 (Marvel)
Charles Soule (writer), Giuseppe Camuncoli (artist)

Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca’s Darth Vader was one of the best and most acclaimed of Marvel’s new Star Wars comics. They wrapped up their run last October, but you can’t keep a good Sith Lord down. This month sees the launch of a new Darth Vader series from a new creative team. This one is set in the immediate aftermath of Revenge of the Sith and features Vader taking his first steps in a post-Jedi world, constructing his iconic red lightsaber and overseeing the rise of the Empire.

Iceman #1 (Marvel)
Sina Grace (writer), Alessandro Vitti (artist)

As one of the original five X-Men, Bobby Drake is one of Marvel’s longest-tenured heroes. He recently went through a major life change when he came out as gay in 2015. This new solo series (Iceman’s first!) will allow Bobby to explore his identity, his Omega-level powers, and finally carve out a space for himself in the Marvel Universe.

Kim Reaper #3 (Oni Press)
Sarah Graley (writer/artist)

In Sarah Graley’s delightful new series, Death is not only a beautiful goth undergrad, she’s also the object of her classmate Becka’s massive crush. Becka’s infatuation, captured so wonderfully by Graley’s expressive cartooning style, takes the two on a chaotic journey, ranging from university romantic travails to hellish underworld portals. Now’s the perfect time to jump on board with this cute new series.

Secret Weapons #1 (Valiant)
Eric Heisserer (writer), Raul Allen (artist)

Fresh off an Oscar nomination for his Arrival screenplay, writer Eric Heisserer’s newest project is a four-issue miniseries about the Valiant hero Livewire, a “psiot” with the ability to manipulate electrical machines. Although Livewire has been a major supporting character in past Valiant series like Harbinger, this is her first solo book, and she has a lot of work to get to. After a falling-out with her former mentor Toyo Harada, Livewire decides to assemble and protect the discarded psiots Harada had deemed useless.

“She’s gotta become a surrogate mother for these kids who have distrust for authority and certainly distrust for anyone who’s been in Harada’s organization,” Heisserer told EW in February. “So she has a lot to earn back right from the start.”

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