Kicking off the list at number 10 is Aquaman, who is universally derided for having not one useful power. And it only gets worse: Captain Planet, the blue-skinned, green-mulleted, red-booty-short-wearing character cooked up by Ted Turner in 1990, makes an appearance at number 7. Further up the list, we get Beast Boy and Animal Man, two DC Comics characters whose only abilities are to mimic those of animals (and who understandably have some affinity for them).
And topping the list at number 1 is – get this – Wonder Man.
The list does include some legitimate superheroes, but for all the wrong reasons. Superman comes in at number 8 because he saved a kitten once in 2000. There's no mention that Clark Kent is a vegetarian in "Superman: Birthright," no small feat for a guy raised on a farm in Kansas. And Batman is ranked number 5 because his cape is made of pleather. Fair enough, but I suspect his ranking will plummet when the folks at PETA see "Dark Knight," in which the Caped Crusader shows little compassion toward several Rottweilers sicced on him.
PETA has recently taken some heat for its perceived sexism, and this list will do nothing to dispel that. Only one woman, the X-Men's Dr. Jean Grey, appears on the list, and even then she shares her ranking with Wolverine. There's no mention of Catwoman, whose alter-ego, Selina Kyle, is an animal rights activist, or Wonder Woman, who has been a vegetarian since 2003.
The animal-rights group does get one thing right. Ultimate Thor, number 6, is one of the most underrated superheroes out there (I blame "Adventures in Babysitting" for tarnishing his image). In "Ultimate Avengers: The Movie," we first see him participating in a Greenpeace-like action against a whaling ship. In another comic, the Norse god refuses to work for the US government unless the president doubles America's foreign aid budget.
A policy wonk with a giant hammer. Now that's a superhero.
Holy Update! Sure enough, after watching the Dark Knight, PETA's blogger bumped Batman off the list for his treatment of dogs. "Sure, it was self-defense," writes Christine Doré, "but doesn't the man with the James Bond gadgets know anything about peanut butter treats and deflecting devices?"
So the Caped Crusader is out, everyone above him was bumped up a rank, and the new number 10 is the cat-loving (and forest-god-slaying) Hellboy.