Space Opera Rules This Week's Comics. And Batman's Still Gone.S

Just in time for your gift-buying frenzy, comics publishers are putting out some brainwarping space opera tales — mostly in a classy hardcover format. This week, Marvel is reprinting two storylines that follow up the Annihilation saga, of invasion from beyond our universe. Another new hardcover collects two years of classic Buck Rogers strips. And DC wants to take you back to when the Legion of Superheroes was still great. These are just some of the new comics that we're craving this week.

Space Opera Rules This Week's Comics. And Batman's Still Gone.S

So first of all, those Marvel hardcovers. Guardians Of The Galaxy and Annihilation: Nova, both by the Annihilation writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, promise to be a couple of bite-sized looks at the aftermath of the Annihilation wave and the invasion that followed.

In GotG, the two back-to-back Annihilation wars have weakened the boundaries of our universe. (I hate a universe with bad boundaries.) Dark gods and monsters are trying to push through, and it's up to Star-Lord and his squd of butt-kickers to hold the line. Meanwhile, Richard Rider is the last surviving member of the Nova Corps (a space cop squad, sort of) and he has to use his near-limitless power to police the entire universe. (I'm just guessing he lets some of the universe's petty vice crimes slide.)

I'll be honest: the Buck Rogers collection is the one that's jumping out at me though. It's from Hermes Press, and it collects 900 daily newspaper strips in a 9" by 12" landscape format. (Two strips per page.) They run from January 1929 to some time in 1931. Hermes says the strips include "space ships, anti-gravity belts, space pirates, invaders from other worlds, nefarious villains, and, of course, heroes."

Space Opera Rules This Week's Comics. And Batman's Still Gone.S

Meanwhile, it's not a hardcover, but DC is putting out a sweet dollop of space opera in Legion Of Super Heroes: The More Things Change paperback. It collects issues 7-13 of the series, from when the dream team of Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen were working together. Someone has constructed a factory in another dimension, and they're building a new Sun-Eater. (For the unitiated, Sun-Eaters are bad. Matter-Eater Lad, on the other hand? Awesome.)

And if that's not enough space action for you, Dynamite Comics is putting out a trade paperback of the first seven issues of Battlestar Galactica: Season Zero. It's not Caprica, but it is another BSG prequel. Discover what happened on the Galactica crew's first mission together, two years before the Cylons fried Caprica.

Space Opera Rules This Week's Comics. And Batman's Still Gone.S

It's not just space opera this week, of course. DC still hears its Bat-cash register ringing, with a two-part storyline following up on "Batman R.I.P." Written by old-school Bat-writer Denny O'Neil, the story "Last Rites" deals with the people of Gotham trying to figure out what the heck just happened, and how the city will survive without the Bat. And you can read a six-page preview of the story here, and it looks like it features a dead ringer for Dark Horse's spectral superheroine Ghost. Meanwhile, Batman: The Joker's Asylum collects five one-shot "Joker's Asylum" issues featuring The Joker, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, Two-Face and Penguin.

Not only that, but the pairing you probably never wanted to read is finally out in a collected edition: Painkiller Jane Vs. The Terminator pits the woman with all the powers of Advil against a murderous cyborg from the future.

Space Opera Rules This Week's Comics. And Batman's Still Gone.S

If you like your media tie-ins just a bit more dino-tastic (and who doesn't?), you might want to check out Transformers: Maximum Dino-Bots #1. (And you can read the first six pages of the issue here, to help you prepare to maximize your dino-bot excitement.)

Space Opera Rules This Week's Comics. And Batman's Still Gone.S

But probably the best value of the week — and the most likely stocking stuffer — is a reprinting of Watchmen issue #1, for just $1.50. If you still have any friends who haven't read (arguably) the most acclaimed graphic novel of all time, this is the cheap and easy way to get them hooked.

As always, a complete list of new comics is available online here. And if you're lost and disoriented and need to find a comic-book shop pronto, a complete directory of them is here.