The Trenchcoat Brigade #2 (April 1999) continues the four-part miniseries. This time The Trenchcoat Brigade - John Constantine, Mister E, Doctor Occult and The Phantom Stranger - find themselves being attacked by their inner demons while a drunken magus tries to stop the apocalypse.
Constantine and company lay waste to Pyotr Konstantin's wolves, who appear to personify feelings of self-pity and guilt. John explains that Pyotr is 'Misery' himself, and advises the team to sober him up before they start threatening him for information. The Phantom Stranger says that Pyotr's soul has been taken by 'the abyss', and that all that is left is a cancer; Doctor Occult disagrees, saying that Pyotr still has the soul of a man, and that the cancer that consumes it is of Earthly origin: it is a cancer of guilt itself.
With some form of sanity returned, Misery pleads with the Brigade to take him back in time to allow him stop his past self from creating the current bleak future. Mister E agrees to this and the five are soon walking back on the road through time. Pyotr finds his home time but before he does, he makes some cryptic remarks about having a head full of the Brigade's ghosts - all that is left of them after 'the master' took their flesh. Suddenly he leaps off the path and back into his home time.
The group find themselves in the Steppes, but Pyotr's tenuous grip on reality quickly gives way and he summons four spirits to attack the Brigade while he makes his escape. Constantine, noting that the spirits look uncannily like themselves, urges his comrades to ignore the shades in the hope that they will go after Pyotr instead. However, Doctor Occult and Mister E call on The Phantom Stranger to create a protective barrier, and as he does so the spirits leap into action, busting through the shield and knocking the five to the ground.
Pyotr, meanwhile, has returned to his home village, noting that he must have come back to a time when he was still young, since his younger self has not yet mutilated the priest or burned down the village. He finds a younger version of himself in a bar and, hoping to convince himself to follow a different path, claims to be the king of the Leshy, a mythological (but real!) race of Slavic woodland spirits. The young Pyotr, doubting him, picks up his sabre and walks out into the nearby woods, saying that the Leshy are supposed to have their kingdom there. The older Pyotr manages to convince him of his ruse, but finds himself in trouble when his younger self holds a sword to his throat.
Meanwhile, the Brigade - having been attacked by each-other's spirits, not their own - find themselves reliving the guiltiest moments of each-other's pasts. Constantine wakes up in The Phantom Stranger's past as one of Heaven's angels. Having refused to choose a side in the battle between God and Lucifer, the Stranger was cast down to Earth until he could choose between darkness and light. Constantine, of course, sees the world in shades of grey and refuses to engage God in the argument. Instead, he picks up a sharp stick from the ground and thrusts it into his hand, focusing on the pain to pull him out of the dream.
Mister E, meanwhile, finds himself in a shifting land. At first he sees himself as John Constantine, trying to lead Astra, a condemned girl, out of Hell. Then he sees himself as a young boy, trying to lead his sister out of the house of their insane, religion-crazed father. He runs from his father; he runs out of Hell; he reaches the doorway out... and awakes in a green field to find himself holding the severed arm of a little girl.
And Old Pyotr is in an equally sticky situation, with his younger self still holding a sword to his throat. It turns out that Young Pyotr is dating the naive, lovesick daughter of the king of the Leshy, purely so that he can steal the Leshy's treasure, the eye of the world. Old Pyotr tries to convince him not to - tells him that the Leshy king's daughter, Eliana, will betray him if he does. Young Pyotr responds by laughing and then slicing off his head. On the ground, Old Pyotr - still alive - muses that it will be awfully difficult to save the world now...
Continued in The Trenchcoat Brigade issue three
- The sad story of Astra and John was told in more detail in Hellblazer issue 11.