The Christmas issue!
Jason, Kori and Roy are all little kids that are apparently in Wayne Manor (Alfred is seen dusting off to the side) as Santa is visiting. Only it's not Santa but Suzie Su! They decide to fight back and somehow this leaves Suzie dead with the bones of her ribs showing. I'm calling dream or mind trick for the how this is happening. Not just because Suzie has been dead since #8 or the fact their suddenly kids. This seems to be something that comes from Jason's mind given Wayne Manor. Then things manage to get weirder when a candy cane appears between Suzies' empty ribs which Jason calls dibs on. Batman turns up which actually makes sense because of the setting. He says it's not acceptable behavior for guest and on Christmas Eve too!
As punishment for killing he tosses them down into the cave saying he doesn't care what happened to Santa as Santa-kidnapping isn't wrong. I suppose he's just jaded against the holiday. Roy loves the cave (given his desire to visit it in #8 it makes sense) and Jason pretends he was only impressed for a few minutes. Thinking that Suzie kidnapped Santa Jason wants to go to the roof to find the sleigh. They get there by using the dinosaur. (Is this a bad trip Jason saw during #36?) The dinosaur turns into another candy cane which Jason takes claiming he didn't do anything when Roy calls him. They find the sleigh which has candy cane buttons and levers. Trying to figure it out to back up his claim he can fly anything Roy tries a number of things before asking it to fly which actually works.
Batman shows up and shows what a great parental figure is by throwing batarangs at his adopted son and his friends. The sled goes to it's home thanks to Roy's command. Soon enough the guys get cold and Kori sits between the to warm them up. Roy declares her the best girlfriend ever. While Kori asks how much longer Jason cries out in pain that his head hurts. Seeing that his friends didn't react to his pain he asks if they noticed and they say they didn't. Jason realizes something is wrong with everything. Their not that young, they didn't even know each other at that age and tries to remember their pasts but has trouble. Kori shrugs it off because Santas' home was torched.
Okay I laughed at the panel with little Jason wearing his helmet walking through the smoke with the other in an attempt to be badass. Despite Jason wanting to check out Santas' home first they go see the reindeer and promptly get freaked out. I loved the bit with a hooded Jason blowing out Koris' light to hide the sight. They take out the possessed reindeer with the lights off. Once again when the others are walking off a candy cane appears and Jason gets suspicious. They find a big safe door which Jason sees as the bad guy leading them where he wants them. He tells Kori not to heat the place up as the water from the ice will be enough to drown them. The three of the break the rule of horror movies and split up. Roy faces nutcrackers and ginger bread men threat Kori.
Jason seems to be putting everything together. He knows his friends and knows they can take care of themselves. That maybe whoever is behind everything doesn't know them well enough. His friends don't feel feel there, he was lead forward with the candy as prizes and "Batman" trying to keep them from going on to keep them from rebelling. An evil looking Santa waits telling Jason he's been a naughty boy. Santa apparently wants Jason to shoot him but Jason refuses. The illusion shatters revealing a lizard creature that's psychic. Thanks to Ducras' teachings he was able to overcome the fantasy. The lizard once tortured Kori to get result for his master. Having failed he was sentenced to suffer for all time on earth. He called Jason to him because he was the only one of the outlaws he could trust to give him a quick death. He begs for Jason to put him out of his misery which he does. Then he warns Helspont to keep away from earth. Helspont hears the message and asks Blackfire about the outlaws.
Overall: This issue kept me guessing who was behind it and I found this very enjoyable. I didn't even think this would tie into the current arc (which solicits with Blackfire sound like it will.) the villain wasn't important in the greater scheme of things but that's okay it adds to the plot and Jason's development. I'm only a little sad that they weren't really kids and we can't see how that would play out. From a meta stand point it says a lot about Jason based on what's seen in the fake world he was in. Batman not willing to help but at the same time trying to keep Jason from killing/going off towards danger. How the manor/Alfred represent home and safety to him. Throughout the entire story Jason is figuring out what's going on and able to break out of the illusion.
His friends are important which plays into why they were used--to get Jason to go forward. Sure there was killing (or was there?) in the kid set up but at the same time Jason was more innocent than we've seen in awhile. How he uses the Dinosaur and is greedy with the candy--those were child like qualities we don't get to see in him. Would you ever expect Jason to be the kid that was excited over Santa? Or would you think he'd be jaded? Why was this child/Christmas set up chosen? In a weird way I can see it as Jason having a good memory from all of this. Sure he was used to kill someone but the adventure was fun. BTW interesting to note Jason was seen as the most compassionate one to give a quick death and not Roy.
Say What?: Roy screams youngest first as he tries to jump ahead but he's not the youngest. Jason is. It was established that he is still Dicks' age a couple times. If he was younger it would make Roy's drinking problem and Ollie kicking him out more troublesome than it already is.
Roy calls Jason Jayboss. It's interesting to note as he called Jason fearless-not-leader earlier in the series although he called Dick boss in the flashback.
Jason calling Batman "dad."
I think it was Jason that tells the others Batman isn't as cool as they think.
Did You Notice?: Their uniforms are their pajamas and yes Roy still wears his hat.
As a kid Jason's gun is huge.
The art for the evil looks the kid trio give at the start looks a LOT like Alan Davis' work.
Teen Titans Go is on the bat computer and a guilty looking dinosaur took a bit out of the giant penny. The bat mobile has teeth and stone Gargoyles are in the cave.
The editor note saying they decided not to clutter the page with sound effects and dialogue, lol.
The outlaw ornaments.
There are too many reindeer.