Big Finish has a mixed track record with prequels and sequels to televised stories; there have been a few clunkers, but on the whole the ones that have succeeded best have been those which took ideas from the original serial and headed off in a different direction rather than those which effectively remade the story. Revenge of the Swarm, in case you hadn’t guessed, is connected to the Bob Baker/Dave Martin tale The Invisible Enemy, and serves as prequel, sequel and remake.
If you’re going to bring back one of the creatures from the show which wasn’t renowned for its brilliant snappy dialogue, chances are you’re going to end up with some equally melodramatic material, and Jonathan Morris provides this in abundance (and from the interviews on the CD extras, had fun doing so). It’s best to go with the flow on this, as it is with the elements which don’t quite ring true – Ace’s knowledge of the original Tron makes sense; of The Matrix, not so much. As Sophie Aldred notes, Ace seems to have reverted slightly in this to the teenager which she’d outgrown in the other stories in the Doctor/Ace/Hex saga, and the Doctor is suddenly far nearer his season 24 persona for some reason too: hopefully, as with previous “anomalies” this is actually a clue to something coming up…
It’s not a story to think too deeply about, on the whole – Morris has taken a leaf out of the Star Trek episode That Which Survives’ book, with the difference in time perception in the hypernet fading in and out as the story demands. Overall, it’s a fun reinvention of a pulpy favourite – although there are a few moments at the end where you are likely to agree with Hector regarding the Doctor and Ace’s attitude to loss of life (once we’re told that the infected can be cured, the claim that it’s the virus that really killed those who died doesn’t hold as much water).
Verdict: Some lighter weight fun leads to a closing scene that promises a dramatic resolution to Hex/Hector’s situation. 7/10