Today's definitive superhero

Not long ago I emerged from my office pod and posed a question to a few of my colleagues: Who is the definitive superhero of the 21st Century? Furrowed brows. Someone suggested Spider Man. ÒNo,Ó I said with the authority of someone who knows theyÕre right. ÒTodayÕs definitive superhero is Jack Bauer.Ó

Even a couple my super-hero-savvy co-workers nodded in agreement.

Bauer Ñ the lead character in the Fox series 24 Ñ does not possess superhuman powers, per se (come to think of it, neither does Batman), but he certainly performs some superhero shit: kills dudes with one snap of the neck; relentlessly tracks down bad guys on an empty stomach and without benefit of sleep; knows how to do any-frickinÕ-thing, from defusing a nuclear bomb to landing a deadly flying drone with a joystick.

You could argue that his choice of superhero costume Ñ jeans, T-shirt and the occasional jacket Ñ lack a certain pizzazz, but his sartorial blandness makes him stand that much further apart from those old-school superheroes. No tights for Jack.

Also keeping him in line with the more modern take on superheroes, BauerÕs a flawed fellow. You get the sense he likes it a little too much when he gets to torture a baddie; he sometimes lets his anger get the better of him (but never so much that his hampers his effectiveness.)

JackÕs blessed, like all superheroes, with superb luck and timing. He defuses the bomb with .3 seconds before it detonates; hails of machine-gun bullets always seem to miss him, while single shots from his handgun nearly always hit their mark.

Bottom line: Jack Bauer is a man of action and results, who routinely saves the world and the American Way (like he did last night). How can you get more superheroic than that?