“Swarm” is a bottle episode for the most part, but often the best Star Trek episodes were. The drama is the ship in crisis, Kirk and crew desperately racing against time to avert cataclysm. While New Visions has in the past leaned too hard on Spock to the exclusion of the other characters, “Swarm” provides what feels like the best sort of Star Trek dilemma, one that couldn’t be solved without the contributions of multiple characters on the crew. Of course, there is still a level of deus ex Spockia, but Byrne is working within the limitations of the photomontage form, and there are just a lot more shots of Spock doing novel things than most any other character. The conclusion feels, perhaps, a little too abbreviated, but even that is in keeping with the original show; sometimes, there wasn’t time left for much more than a vague philosophical musing from Kirk or McCoy after a crisis had been averted. And so here.
Above all, “Swarm” appears to address – intentionally or otherwise – many of the weaknesses that New Visions has had over two years of publication. I don’t know how far in advance Byrne has to do each new story – I imagine that, in some ways, the photomontage style is even more time consuming than traditional art – but this story is using everything that prior stories have done right – and avoiding, mostly, where prior stories have stumbled. This is the sort of story that reminds us of how compelling Star Trek, even within the limitations of the photomontage form, can still be, and how strong Byrne’s grasp on the characters is.