Just for a laugh I thought I'd compare my three current fave literary action heroes.
From the pen of Stephen Hunter comes Earl Swagger. A WWII marine sergeant and State Highway Trooper.
Also from Hunter comes Earl's son, Bob Lee Swagger. A USMC sniper during 'Nam.
And from Lee Child comes Jack Reacher. A former major in the military police who spent the first thirty odd years of his life overseas and is now just drifting around America, trying to get a feel for what is supposed to be his home country.
I'll admit this isn't a fair test as I've read all the Swagger books but only three of the Reacher books (so far). Plus, I'm going from memory so I may forget things that could effect the final scores. But like I said, it's only for a laugh.
Anyway, here we go:
Reacher is an ex-investigator for the MPs. And a bloody good one. So top marks. 5
Bob did some work for the CIA during 'Nam and some investigating of his own when he became enmeshed in various conspiracy theories in the '90s. So not his main area of expertise but he shows some flair for it. 4
Earl never had any real investigative training and his adventures tend not to call for it much anyway. 3
Earl is a near-pro level boxer with lightning fast hands. Plus he's had some training in judo and (I think) ju-jitsu. Plus whatever else WWII-era marines got taught (some of the Fairbairn and Applegate stuff maybe?) So it doesn't matter if you fight sport style or street style, either way he'll kick your arse. 5
Reacher is 6 foot five and 220 pounds of bone and muscle. Plus he's been trained to fight dirty. Might even manage to beat Earl if he gets in a solid suckerpunch at the start of the fight. 4
Bob doesn't tend to have so many fistfights as the other two (not that I can remember anyway) but he can still hold his own. When a burly FBI agent with a black belt in judo tries to handcuff him Bob effortlessly reverses the hold and flips the Fed on his back. Probably can fight as well as Reacher but without the Arnie-esque physique to back it up. 3
Close Quarter Combat
Earl won the Medal of Honor for taking on a bunch of Japanese troops in CBQ. Plus he's a crack shot and lightning fast draw with a Colt .45. He's damn handy with a Tommygun too.5
Bob took on a truck and two cars full of battle-hardened mercenaries armed with automatic weapons. Bob's only weapons -- a rifle and a pistol. His only back-up -- a civilian who'd never been in a firefight before. The mercenaries didn't stand a chance. Plus Bob took on VC troops in 'Nam. 4
Reacher seems to have much softer opposition. Usually dumb henchmen with only their boss having any real guts or combat skills. 3
Bob took on an entire platoon of NVA troops that was marching on an undefended special forces camp. With only his spotter, Donny Fen, as back-up Bob spent 72 hours playing hide and seek, picking off officers and NCOs. By the time he finished he had halted the NVAs' advance and killed over 30 of their number. "Cocksucker can shoot a little." 5
Reacher is the only non-marine to win the USMC sniper trophy. But so far I've not seen him shoot sniper style in all-out combat conditions. 4
Earl is a great shot but didn't receive sniper training until late in his career and then it was just a crash course. 3
A tie here. Earl was a bit of a hellraiser in his younger days but then settled down after he got married. Women continue to throw themselves at him but he remains practically oblivious to it. It takes something very special to make him even think of straying. Meanwhile Reacher gets more women but he's actively pursuing them. But with his mixture of toughness and sensitivity (not to mention his bulging muscles) he'd probably get them even if he ignored them. 5
Bob spent over a decade as a recluse so that seriously cut down on the amount of women he could've had. And as soon as he stopped being a recluse he got married. Still, he had a previous marriage plus some unspecified conquests from his younger days. And while he might not get the ladies throwing themselves at him quite as much as Earl did they still send him admiring glances. They'd probably send him more than that but there's an air of danger about Bob -- as a former sniper people tend to view him as a stone cold killer rather than as a war hero as they do with Earl. This probably means that women prefer to lust after him from afar rather than actually get involved with him. 4
So it's a tie with Earl and Reacher both finishing with 21 points and Bob with 20.
Of course this isn't definitive. On another day I might've rated the heroes differently.