John Constantine: Hellblazer #283 (November 2011) starts a new storyline, 'The Devil's Trenchcoat', in which John's errant coat wreaks havoc across London, while John and Epiphany find themselves out at sea and Gemma finds herself stalked by a dangerous witch.
New storyline: "The Devil's Trenchcoat." When Gemma Masters punishes her uncle by auctioning off his trench coat, she ignites a horrific chain of events. Now Constantine must adjust to life without his smelly old coat, while its new owner's life turns inside out.
Muzzie Musgrove is bidding on an inoccuous-looking trenchcoat online, unaware that his competitors are an angel and a two-headed woman with a handy supply of brimstone. But Muzzie wins the coat, little suspecting that it has a consciousness - and that it has chosen him. Elsewhere, Gemma is stopped outside the job centre by Tamsin, the leader of the coven who helped her summon a demon to attack John. She says that she wants Gemma to join them, and all she has to do to get in is 'a simple little murder'. Gemma tells her that she's insane and leaves.
That night John dreams of a stinking coat, floating in water with its arm pointing at... something. He wakes to find that the bed that he and Epiphany are in is somehow floating in the middle of the Thames river. After getting himself back on dry land, he heads to Gemma's. He asks her where his coat is and she says that she sold it and deleted the buyer's details, then tells him to get out.
Muzzie collects the coat from a laundrette, where the owner angrily tells him that he's washed it three times and still can't get the stink out. Worse, it's infecting the rest of his stock with its repellant smell. Muzzie puts on the coat as he leaves and comments that he feels light-headed; the coat says to itself that it does too.
Later, Gemma leaves a Chinese takeaway shop to find her meal riddled with worms. She drops it in disgust and her senses are suddenly overcome by a strange voice that chants 'MURDER MURDER MURDER MURDER'. She flees, clutching her head, and is hit a glancing blow by a car. Tamsin steps out of the car and says that Gemma is one of them now, and that 'blood must be spilled'. Gemma, delerious, staggers away calling for John.
John himself is wrapped up in his own troubles: his bedroom walls and ceiling are oozing bloody. Epiphany says that the kitchen looks like a David Cronenberg film, and that she's going to stay with her father until it's all sorted out. Just as she's leaving, John senses something watching him through the window, but when he pulls back the curtains, whatever it was is gone.
Meanwhile, Gemma continues to run, refusing to seek help from John out of sheer pride. The coat notes that she can still smell its stink on her, and while the smell used to comfort her, not it reminds her of why she hates him. She isn't the only one: the stink of the coat has infected the clothing of all the people who took their clothes to the same dry-cleaner's as Muzzie. An accountant in Muswell Hill sliced off his own nose with a razorblade to escape it, but it does no good. Elsewhere, a woman mistakes the smell for the stink of her own guilt and confesses her affairs to her husband, even making some up until he eventually snaps and strangles her. And back at the laundrette, the owner douses himself and his store with petrol and lights a match...
But Muzzie can hardly smell it any more. The coat is pleased: he's ready now. It takes Muzzie to a bar where everyone is younger and better looking than him. The old Muzzie wouldn't dare, but the new Muzzie - the one that's in control now - walks up to a beautiful woman at the bar and introduces himself... as John Constantine. His ploy works and pretty soon they're having some spectacular sex at his place.
A sex magic ritual sorts out the bleeding bedroom walls, and while they have a post-coital shower, John explains the problem to Epiphany: he's worked out that it's connected to him not having his coat; that years of weird spells, nasty demons and dark rituals have probably tainted it with something that's backfiring onto them. Just then, Terry Greaves slides open the shower curtains and says that he wants a word with John - the Mafia men John agreed to help him with are coming to town. He tells John to be ready.
Muzzie gets marching orders from the girl he picked up at the bar; either the trench coat goes or she does. The coat pleads with his subconscious not to throw it away, but Muzzie decides to stick with the girl. Muzzie goes outside to throw out the coat and is slammed into by a biker, who sends him flying, breaking his neck. As Muzzie breathes his last, the coat says that there will be others...
Continued in Hellblazer issue 284.
- Tamsin helped Gemma summon a demon - the harpy John mentions - in Hellblazer issue 279.
- Gemma mentions The Demon Constantine raping her, which happened in Hellblazer issue 275, and her mother dying, which happened in Hellblazer issue 205. She doesn't mention her father, who died in Hellblazer issue 212, but she was never as close to him as she was to her mother.
- Epiphany says that she and John have a deal; if he starts to go insane, he has to tell her. John has a long history of mental illness that began when he failed to save a girl from a demon in Hellblazer issue 11. Epiphany saw John's most recent bout of insanity in Hellblazer issue 267.
- Gemma complains that their kitchen looks like 'a David Cronenberg film'. David Cronenberg is a film writer and director whose early films focused on body horror, with scenes of grotesque mutilation and gore.
- The accountant lived in Muswell Hill; this is an area of London.