John Constantine Hellblazer Wiki
The Trenchcoat Brigade #1
Story title(s)
'Misery, part 1: Mercy Killer'
Alex Sinclair
Ellie de Ville
Stuart Moore (editor), Cliff Chiang (asst. editor)
Cover date
March 1999
Collected in
Previous issue

The Trenchcoat Brigade #1 (March 1999) is the first of a four-part miniseries detailing the adventures of the titular Trenchcoat Brigade - John Constantine, Mister E, Doctor Occult and The Phantom Stranger - from the original Books of Magic miniseries.

Plot synopsis

In a desolate future New York, a madman dressed like a Russian cossack - complete with sword - rants to a vodka bottle about how something terrible has befallen the human race. He mumbles that there was nothing 'they' could do about it, hefting the abandoned white trenchcoat of Mister E. He stumbles out into a destroyed Times Square and rants about how glad he is that 'the demon' devoured the entire human race...

Back in present day New York, Mister E enters the home of an unknown Russian man and holds a stake over his heart. He is ready to drive the wood through his heart but stops when the terrified man has blue eyes, not the green ones that Mister E seeks. He tells the man to sleep, causing him to instantly fall unconscious, and leaves. The wooden stake remains on the man's chest. The following day, E is woken by his room-mate, Birkin. For a second we glimpse E's eyes, which are scarred and yellowed, but he quickly puts on his shades and gets up to sweep the street. Birkin asks how Erik is able to get around so well and E says that he used to rely on God to guide him, but now he tries not to run into things.

Elsewhere in the city, John Constantine finds his efforts at hitting on an attractive waitress cut short when he hears a news report about a local serial killer with a habit of not actually murdering his victims. A shot of the crime scene reveals that the 'killer' had intended to murder the victim with a stake. John, recognising E's MO, calls a woman named Rose, who promptly appears next to him alongside The Phantom Stranger.

Erik has a dark vision...

Together the three track down the errant Mister E and are surprised to find him a changed man. They knew him as a misogynistic madman full of righteous religious zeal, but now he seems to have forsaken this in favour of a new name and a new life. He even has friends now - female ones, too, including a little girl and her mother. Rose approaches him and his facade begins to crack. He panics that he won't be able to save his friends from what's coming: the end of the world; a time when the 'cancer' in the souls of men consumes them and only Misery is left. He says that he met Misery himself on a return trip from the end of time. The Phantom Stranger asks him to take them to where he met Misery and Erik ruefully says that he cannot - only Mister E can.

Pyotr meets the Brigade

With his new personality shed, Mister E and the others travel the paths of time to the future in which Misery remains, with Rose transforming into Doctor Occult on the way - it turns out that she and he share the same body and must alternate between their two states. Once in the ruined future New York, Mister E sees the bearded Russian from the start of the issue lying on the ground. He drives a stake into his heart, but that completely fails to do anything. John reveals that Misery is none other than Pyotr Konstantin, yet another magically inclined member of the Constantine family tree. Pyotr is less than pleased with the revelation and summons four giant wolves to dispatch his new enemies.

Continued in The Trenchcoat Brigade issue two.


  • Mister E mentions that he took Tim Hunter to the end of time and had to walk back; this occurred in the original Books of Magic miniseries.


  • Mister E is shown entering the Russian man's house with a severed human hand, with each digit having a candle placed atop it. This is known as a 'hand of glory'; it was believed that using the severed hand of a hanged man in this way would allow one to enter someone's home without them waking up.