The wisest answer would be: it depends. You don’t want to piss either of these guys off.
I know, because I’m a huge fan of both the Fox series “24,” where Bauer does whatever the hell he feels like, Counter Terrorism Unit bureaucracy be damned, and the Lee Child novels, where Reacher, an ex-military policeman and drifter, similarly operates both inside and outside the law in the name of truth, justice, and Jack’s Own Way.
I fondly remember one Reacher bar fight which began with him calmly sitting at a table. He’s confronted by half a dozen guys out to give him a bad time. Reacher suggests that they should take a hike. Their leader says, “If we don’t, what are you going to do?”
Reacher then describes in exquisite detail what will happen. “You and I are going to go out to the parking lot. You’re going to take a swing at me and I’ll break your jaw. Then you’ll take another swing and I’ll break your right kneecap. After that, I’m going to come back inside and finish my beer." Which, of course, is exactly what happened.
Bauer can handle himself in any sort of situation, but almost always he’s got a gun in his hand. In the last Lee Child book I read, “One Shot,” Reacher dispatches four well-armed guys (who seriously deserved to be dispatched) with just a knife. Bauer maybe could do that too, but he’d have to work at it harder than the other Jack.
Yet Bauer can fly a helicopter. That gets you extra points in the Jack vs. Jack matchup. So does Reacher’s expert sniper ability, though. The one area where Bauer clearly kicks Reacher’s ass is cyberspace. I’m not sure whether Reacher even knows how to turn on a computer.
He definitely wouldn’t have a clue about how to download satellite tracking images to his cell phone, which Bauer seems to do every couple of minutes. Reacher favors old-fashioned pay phones. Bauer is never without a cell phone that possesses an inexhaustible battery except, strangely, at the end of last night’s episode. Bad for Bauer. Good for kicking off the suspense of next season.
What tilts my toughest-of-the-tough vote to Reacher is how dependent Bauer is on Chloe. He probably couldn’t figure out how to get to the nearest Starbucks without her. When it’s a Jack against the Evildoers, he shouldn’t need a computer nerdette to get him through a firefight.
“Infrared satellite shows a lookout on the second floor at the end of the corridor, Jack.” What a weenie. Reacher would just stealth his solitary way up the stairs with a Ka-Bar and fillet the guy without a trace of electronic assistance.
In the battle of the Jacks, this blogger has it backwards. Reacher rules. Except, when your Internet connection goes haywire, as my piece of shit Linksys router did today. That’s when I want Bauer and Chloe on my side. Otherwise, Reacher’s the man.