In comics, there are many instances when we have to suspend our disbelief. Alien planets, superpowers, time travel, radioactive spiders, parallel universes, and the list goes on. Incognito is no exception. In this series, superpowers, monsters, cloning and mind control all play a large role. And I am willing to suspend my disbelief for all of these. Growing a full-grown superhuman capable of intelligent thought in a laboratory? Sure, why not?
Where I draw the line is the flying car.
In this issue, we see Zack Overkill and Ava Destruction zipping around the sky in a flying car that, no doubt, was invented by the mad scientists of the villainous crime syndicate, of which they were previously members. I have a hard time believing that such a car as depicted in the image above is economically or technologically feasible. Nor do I think it is actually a smart idea for Zack and Ava to possess one.
First, it surprises me that these two supposedly brilliant criminal masterminds would try to remain under the radar and attempt to avoid capture by traveling in the flying car. Wouldn't a regular car have worked better? This way, they would have blended into the crowd, rather than attracting attention during take-off, landing, and possibly even the flight. I thought the name of the book was Incognito.
Second, there is the issue of lifting off and landing vertically. Notice in the image that the car does not have any wings. This means that it does not require acceleration on a runway (like an ordinary airplane) to take off, but instead is likely capable of doing it on its own. After all, we're talking about sinister, mad-scientist technology here. The problem is that millions and millions of dollars have already been spent trying to create such a car, and so far we have seen minimal results. In fact, according to The Economist,
One enthusiast, Canadian-born Paul Moller of Davis, California, has spent an estimated $250m of his own and other people’s money over the past 45 years trying get his fan-powered Skycar off the ground. So far, none of his vertical take-off and landing prototypes has risen much more than a few feet.
So that's $250 million spent developing the Moller Skycar, which still does not really do much more than hover. And this is a man who has spent over forty years working exclusively on the development of the flying car. How would the villains have been able to do better?
Third, what about the fuel of the flying car? Well, the Terrafugia Transition, the latest design for a "roadable plane" claims that it can get 500 miles on a single tank (20 gallons) of petrol cruising at 115 mph. 500 miles of flying is pretty good, but remember that this is more of a small airplane than it actually is a flying car. The cars from fiction, from our imaginations, and from Incognito do not have wings to help with lift or aviation. Instead, they have to power themselves through the duration of the flight, and more importantly, through liftoff. This would require a significant amount of fuel, which I suspect would both be expensive and inefficient. Maybe the villains have tapped an alternate energy source, which they are using to propel their cars. If this is the case, then why even be villains? Just make billions of dollars selling energy on the market. Or efficient flying cars!
There are many other reasons to think that it will be a long time before humans are cruising as they did in The Jetsons or Back to the Future II. As The Economists notes, many of the cars that are designed like planes, such as the Transition, are likely to require proper pilot licensing. In addition, it is still illegal (except in Alaska) to take off or land on public roads. Then there are air traffic control problems, FAA regulations to pass, National Highway and Traffic Safety regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation, and a whole mess of legality issues to get through. This does not really apply to Incongito, but it is just something to think about regarding the future of the flying car.
Believe me, no one is more upset about the infeasibility of the flying car than I am. I grew up hoping that one day I would get to live in a world where I could fly to work through a hovering skyway. Back to the Future predicted this would happen by 2015. I am sad to report it does not look so. Despite what Zack Overkill and Eva Destruction say.