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By Our Colleagues

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X-Factor by Jeff Jensen and Arthur Ranson (Marvel Comics, $2.50) Right from the outset, this new four-part X-Factor miniseries, a cousin to the titanically popular X-Men books, sets an agenda a little loftier than the average comic book about hypermuscled men and well-endowed women fighting over who gets to be the Head Hero in Charge. X-Factor posits a world in which mutants — those gifted (and sometimes cursed) with that mysterious gene that grants superhuman powers — are the new oppressed, the inheritors of humanity’s legacy of hate. EW staff writer Jensen ably weaves together racism, homophobia, religion, Hollywood depravity, and poor parenting into a four-color tapestry that speaks of both hope and hopelessness. The intricate artwork by Ranson grounds X-Factor in a reality that could very easily be ours, if the untold vagaries of genetics suddenly played by different rules.