Sachs & Violens was a 1993/94 Limited Series by Peter David, George Pérez et al.
It sought to capture the vibe of circa-1980 grindhouse/exploitation cinema, and its squalid luridness.
The two main characters returned out of the blue in 2006, in the Fallen Angel comics series.
This entry has S P O I L E R S for both the original LS and their Fallen Angel appearances.
- Real Name: Juanita Jean Sachs.
- Other Aliases: J.J., ’nita.
- Known Relatives: MacArthur Sachs (aka Sister Isabella, aka Bumper, sister), unnamed father.
- Group Affiliation: Partner of Violens.
- Base Of Operations: New York City, later Mobile, later Bête Noire.
- Height: 5’7” (1.70m). Weight: 130 lbs. (59 Kg.). Age: Mid-20s.
- Eyes: Dark brown. Hair: Black.
An influential piece of progressive house music, released two years after Sachs & Violens, was called Juanita. And it’s a good match for the atmosphere.
It’s a bass-heavy clubbing, trippy piece (the bass kicks in circa 1:50) by Welsh band Underworld (no relation).
Underworld’s album was part of the Trainspotting OST. Which was a noted movie with strong urban decay themes.
Sachs and Violens operate in specific narrative genres.
Mood indigo – the urban wasteland genre
Their 1990s adventures are set in an exaggerated version of a genre that was common in American fiction from the mid-1970s to the 2000s.
It could be called the “urban wasteland genre” or the “new gangland genre”. It is a subgenre of the more general crime thriller.
These stories are based on scares about then-contemporary issues. Such as :
- A surge in crime rates. However, the genre continued well after these collapsed.
- Subcultures cultivating a nihilistic, violent reputation. Punks, one-percenter bikers, new-school street gangs such as the Warriors on Coney Island, etc..
- The mythologisation of inner city decay, spurred by White flight.
- Sensationalistic reporting about crime and drugs. Particularly those popularly associated with minorities, such as crack cocaine.
- The malaise and feeling of national impotence that followed the defeat in Việt Nam.
Urban wasteland stories feature a dramatised version of these trends. Beyond Sachs and Violens, characters with WORG entries in this genre include Mark Hazzard, Cinder & Ashe, Marion Cobretti and of course the Punisher.
One odd resurgence was obscure Daredevil foe Ammo.
When running adventures in this genre, tropes to keep in mind include :
- Urban violence is omnipresent, random, senseless, and can easily involve automatic weapons.
- The police is inefficient and/or stretched thin. Many officers are corrupt. The only good cops are tough-guy mavericks in streetwear who make their own rules and kill people left and right.
- Large urban areas are practically lawless. The burnt-out ghettos and barbaric ganglands are trapped in deep poverty.
- Soldier of Fortune is full of legit job offers. International mercenary or even urban mercenary are viable and potentially lucrative career choices.
- Many characters are Việt Nam invasion veterans. They were probably not corrupt, but many officers and CIA agents around them were, and were smuggling heroin.
- Heroic upstanding citizens take up guns to kill irredeemable, bestial criminals making everybody’s life an untenable hell. Because it’s either that or craven surrender to chaos.
- The judicial system is ineffective, corrupt and lax. Government is corrupt and uninterested in its constituents. No criminal ever stays behind bars for long.
Doing stories in this genre without resorting to prejudiced, reactionary clichés is possible. But one shouldn’t underestimate how much work that requires. Sachs & Violens doesn’t quite clear that bar.
Sachs and Violens draws inspiration from the Times Square area at its most squalid, dysfunctional and crime-ridden.
Then it pushes things a little bit further. There is a sense that the world is about to crash. Mad Max (1979) could easily be the near future, as everything descends into lawlessness and the centre cannot hold.
The series was written in 1993 (there’s even a reference to Catwoman in Batman Returns). So it already was a slightly retro story.
It further throws in elements from 1980s moral panics. So the world of Sachs and Violens is what an outsider circa 1980 might have imagined from fire-and-brimstone speeches and poor journalism about the American big cities as lawless hives of vice, violence and deviancy.
Many years later, J.J. and Ernie end up in a completely different milieu – the city of Bête Noire.
See our Fallen Angel character profile for a description of the city, its mystical role, and the special rules that apply to people living there.
Powers and Abilities
Ms. Sachs is a ferocious, agile close combat expert with quick reflexes.
She is fearless, devious and brutal. She also has an assertive personality.
J.J. also carries some shuriken, and has been known to wear spiked knuckles.
In Bête Noire she occasionally armed herself with a sword.
J.J. and her sister MacArthur were raised as Army brats.
Their dad taught them to take care of themselves. He may have been a hand-to-hand combat instructor, since Mac is quite dangerous in a fight – and J.J. is downright deadly.
To her father’s satisfaction, Mac became a nun. J.J. drew a different reaction by becoming an adult magazines photo model.
Flesh for fantasy
Some of her best work, ranging from cute pin-up posters to would-be-classy porn, was shot by New York City specialised photographer Ernie Schultz. Schultz became a friend.
But in 1993 another good friend of J.J., Wendy — a fellow porn model — was beheaded on camera. She had been tricked into shooting a snuff movie.
This was the fifth such death within a few months, and Schultz now feared for Sach’s safety.
J.J. found a message from Wendy on her telephone answering machine. She could therefore deduce where her friend had been murdered.
Now she’s pissed off
Mad as hell and not trusting the police, Sachs armed herself with hardcore SM gear. She then applied to the studio where her friend had been murdered.
However, the crew found a photo of Wendy in her purse, and tried to kill her. She single-handedly demolished them, but was beaten back by the man-mountain who had decapitated Wendy.
Now he’s pissed off
The sex shop where J.J. had bought her whip was operated by Ernie’s parents. Schultz therefore quickly realised what was going on.
However, the notion of impending violence made him nauseous.
During his years as a photojournalist in Việt Nam, Schultz had discovered that he could also be a savage killer – which traumatised him. The US soldiers had nicknamed him “Violens”.
Knowing that she had gone after a snuff operation, Ernie used his knowledge of the New York City porn production scene and his talent for brutal interrogation to locate it. He came in just in time to reinforce J.J..
The whole situation degenerated into a firefight, leaving a pile of bodies.
Always on the run
Sachs and Violens drove away in Ernie’s station wagon. They also took in kidnapped children they had found at the studio, to return them to their parents.
The excitement of the fight had left Sachs craving for sex, and she kept making passes at Schultz. Though the photographer had had a crush on the model for years, he awkwardly resisted.
Schultz felt that he was too old and homely — and too much of a dysfunctional has-been — for such an attractive young woman. But he eventually gave in.
While the sex was certainly something, waking up together was… awkward. They resumed driving the brats home.
Kill ’em all
However, the kids mentioned that friends of theirs had also been kidnapped.
Ernie wanted to go to the police, but the thought of more deadly violence was exciting for J.J.. She convinced him to raid the kidnappers’ compound on their own.
The two killer vigilantes stormed the estate. However the head of the operation, a massive sadist nicknamed Moloch, got away.
All children were freed. But by that point Sachs and Violens were wanted for 27 counts of homicide. Plus endless charges including trespassing, possession of illegal weaponry, assault, etc..
They had little choice. Stay covert and on the move, or die.
By this point J.J. and Ernie were far more comfortable as lovers. That left them to run like a new version of Bonnie and Clyde, and have considerable amounts of sex.
Examining Moloch’s medallion, Violens recognised the insignia of the Rajah. This was a mob hiding in plain sight as a New Orleans krewe .
The Rajah dealt in vice and slavery… while simultaneously manipulating an ultra-conservative religious movement. The latter proved useful to shut down their competitors on the porn market.
Many sticky liquids
As they investigated the Rajah, Schultz and Sachs uncovered a terrorist plot by the krewe’s militant reactionary arm. They had planted a bomb within a Mardi Gras float.
Since he didn’t know how to disarm a bomb, Violens knocked J.J. back – and took the float on a suicide run. His goal was to get it away from the crowd.
A Rajah enforcer nearly stopped him. But she was attacked by a recovered J.J., then shot by Violens.
Sachs was left with broken bones, burns, cuts and a concussion. Schultz was believed dead in the explosion as he crashed the float into the sea.
Vigilantes gone wild
Moloch found Sach’s hospital room. He was about to kill her, but J.J. and her sister MacArthur fought back and killed him.
Ernie then came in. He spirited his lover away before the police could take her in.
Their further adventures are undocumented. But they continued acting as killer vigilantes in a squalid world.
The couple accumulated so many enemies over the years that their continued survival was unlikely.
Looking for a way out, J.J. suggested that they join her sister in a strange town called Bête Noire.
MacArthur had made a significant career change. She no longer was Sister Isabella, but now called herself Bumper and was the madame of a brothel.
The couple’s early years in Bête Noire are unchronicled. But is is known that Ernie survived a conflict with the Fallen Angel (Lee).
After the death of the Shadow Boxer the city needed a new Chief Enforcer. Ernie was selected.
J.J. liked the danger permeating Bête Noire, especially now that Ernie was the sheriff. But eventually she started feeling stale and sought to move on.
The number of the Bête
An international terrorist named Scirocco then bombed a church in Bête Noire. Violens managed to get almost everyone out in time.
Ernie killed Scirocco’s aide. But he was then hit by a thrown dagger, which seemingly killed him.
Beside herself with rage, J.J. gave chase. She ended up in a sword duel with Scirocco while suspended on a rope ladder under an helicopter. She lost, and would have died had not the Fallen Angel intervened.
Ernie recovered from his seemingly fatal wound overnight. The city of Bête Noire liked him well enough to magically heal him.
This harrowing experience made Sachs realise that she loved Violens in a different way than she thought. She now wanted to live in Bête Noire with her lover – rather than resume their fugitive vigilante lifestyle for kicks.
When the vampire Hierarchy invaded Bête Noire, Sachs and Violens fought this overwhelming force. But their side lost.
J.J. was captured and tortured, yet Ernie miraculously managed to free her and run. They hid in the serpentine cave of Berny the Ourobouros, and were joined by J.J.’s sister Bumper.
Ernie, J.J. and Bumper joined the final fight against the Hierarchy. They presumably still live in Bête Noire.
J.J. has a spectacular body, with lotsa curves everywhere.
Most of the time she enjoys her over-the-top style. Somewhere between a porn star, a dominatrix and a bomba latina. But she occasionally let go of it to be herself for a bit, and sport a more subdued appearance.
Sachs is a super-tough New Yorker, in a setting where New York City is a lawless den of iniquity, random violence and perversion. She is inured to violence and conflict. In fact she relishes in it.
Juanita is abrasive, hardened and highly assertive. She is also capable of risk-blind rages backed by elite fighting skills.
What J.J. wants, J.J. gets. And whoever pisses her off will have to learn how to eat through a straw.
The adrenaline rush from heavy fighting is a powerful aphrodisiac for her. In this state, she will act horny and uninhibited until satisfied. Once the high has worn off though, she might regret her actions.
Nevertheless she’s actively looking for violence in a blatantly irresponsible, almost-but-not-quite-addicted manner.
Sachs originally saw Violens as her good middle-aged friend. But the arousal from violence would make him look like a super-stud to her.
This alternation of reasonable and maniacal phases gradually became an actual relationship. And after Ernie was nearly killed, it became genuine love.
But even within days of starting their rampage, our vigilante Bonnie and Clyde were fanatically devoted to each other. They’d unhesitatingly take blood-curling risks to defend their mate.
Juanita has mastered the role of a porn fantasy dripping with race/class subtext. She just has to pretend to speak poor English, show off her amazing bust and act submissive. She’ll seldom hesitate to use this as a diversion.
“The cops’ll just arrest them. Not good enough. Nowhere near. I’ll get them for you, Wendy. They’ll never see it coming. Just like you didn’t. Eye for an eye, like the Bible. They killed my best friend and I’m gonna show them what happens when you piss off Juanita Jean Sachs.”
“‘Distraction’ ? I got your distraction right here, you murdering sack of shit !” (kicks nearest guy in the bollocks, does a flying tumble forward to create distance, draws her whip) “Oh dear… is that a leaky canteen in your pants, or are you just scared to see me ?”
(Putting her breasts back into her bustier after Violens shot everybody) “See ? The Modesty Blaise riff worked. They never saw you coming.”
(Draws a sword) “You like swords so much, perra ? […] You hurt my man ! You don’t walk away from that !”
Ernie: “J.J., be careful !”
Juanita: “Yeah, that’ll happen.”
Ernie: “Something’s up.”
J.J.: “Gee, Ernie, you’re insatiable !”
Ernie: “No, that’s not what’s up. At least, not at the moment.”
DC Universe Adaptation
(This section proposes ways of using this character in DC Universe stories).
Bête Noire has many odd properties. Therefore, its residents could show up in many settings without an explanation as Bête Noire just happens to also exist there.
DC Heroes RPG
Juanita Jean “J.J.” Sachs
|Dex: 06||Str: 03||Bod: 04|
|Int: 05||Wil: 04||Min: 04|
|Inf: 05||Aur: 04||Spi: 04|
|Init: 020||HP: 045|
Acrobatics (Athletics, climbing): 05, Artist (Modelling): 04, Martial artist*: 06, Weaponry (Melee, missile): 07, Weaponry (Firearms): 05
Attractive, Familiarity (Porn production scene), Iron Nerves, Language (Some Spanish), Lightning Reflexes.
Street (Low), Black Mariah (Low).
SIA (Strongly aroused by the delayed adrenaline reaction to combat and danger), MIA toward Protecting her friends, Minor Rage.
- Reinforced whip [BODY 04, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 04), Enhance (STR): 01 (cap is 05), Stretching: 00, Descriptor: Slashing, Limitations :
- Enhance (STR) only when performing a Grappling, Disarm or Wrestling Manoeuvre.
- Stretching has No Fine Manipulation and no lifting power].
- SPIKED BRASS KNUCKLES [BODY 04, Enhance (EV): 01 (Cap is 04), Descriptor: Blunt, Bonus: +1CS OV/RV to resist Disarm attempts].
- Shuriken (x4) [BODY 03, EV 04, Dart Bonus, Grenade Drawback]. The first pair is sometimes worn as earrings, but they can still be quickly thrown with but one hand.
- Katana [BODY 07, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 08), Descriptor: Slashing, Piercing, Recommended STR 02].
J.J. starts using this in Bête Noire – though she likely grabbed it specifically to meet a swordswoman in combat.
DC Adventures RPG
Juanita Jean Sachs — Averaged PL6.4
All-out Attack, Chokehold, Close Attack 3, Defensive Roll 1, Improved critical 1 (Whip), Improved Critical 1 (Shuriken), Improved Initiative, Improved Trip, Seize Initiative.
Attractive, Equipment 2, Fearless, Instant Up, Language (Some Spanish).
Acrobatics 3 (+7), Athletics 5 (+6), Close combat (Whip) 2 (+11), Close combat (Sword) 1 (+10), Deception 2 (+3), Expertise (Porn modelling) 4 (+5), Insight 3 (+4), Perception 4 (+5), Persuasion 1 (+2), Ranged combat (Firearms) 5 (+7), Ranged combat (Thrown) 8 (+10).
Big whip Slashing Damage 1, Reach 3, Improved Grab ● 5 points
Brass knuckles Bludgeoning Damage 1 ● 1 point
Shuriken Ranged Multiattack Damage 1 ● 3 point
|Unarmed +9, Close, Damage 1 (2 w/brass knuckles).|
|Whip +11, Close (Reach 3), Damage 2, Crit 19-20.|
|Shuriken +10, Ranged, Multiattack Damage 1, Crit 19-20.|
* Without Defensive Roll.
- Panther of the concrete jungle Juanita is protective of her friends and of defenceless people. She has little problem entering lethal combat if such persons are threatened.
- Hot-blooded J.J. has a strong temper, and she fights for keeps. Combat and danger also turn her on, and she has to cool down afterwards (usually by shagging).
- An item Sachs and Violens are strongly devoted to each other.
- Trade-off areas. Attack/Effect PL 7, Dodge/Toughness PL 7, Parry/Toughness PL 7, Fort/Will PL 5.
- Points total 88. Abilities 36, Defences 16, Skills 19, Powers 0, Devices 0, Advantages 17. Equiv. PL 6.
Source of Character: Sachs & Violens miniseries (Epic).
Helper(s): Darci, Brent Walters.