Solomon as chief judge (painted by Carlos Ezquerra)
|First appearance||2000 AD #68 (1978)|
|Created by||Pat Mills and Mike McMahon|
|Full name||Hollins Solomon|
Chief Judge Hollins Solomon is a fictional character from the Judge Dredd stories in the comic 2000 AD. His first appearance in the comic was in a flashback in #68, in the 1978 story The Cursed Earth. However his main appearance is in the story Origins (2006–2007), as a recurring character in a series of flashbacks.
|Chief Judge of the United States|
|Preceded by||Eustace Fargo|
|Succeeded by||Office abolished|
|Chief Judge of Mega-City One|
|Preceded by||New office|
|Succeeded by||Clarence Goodman|
The story Origins fleshed out Solomon's history. It revealed that Solomon was deputy chief judge serving under Chief Judge Fargo, and a far more politically minded man than his boss. When in 2051 Fargo made a failed suicide attempt which left him severely injured, it was Solomon's idea to fake a heroic death for him as a public relations move. Solomon succeeded Fargo as chief judge until 2057, when he became tired of the politics and handed the role over to Judge Goodman. Originally Chief Judge of the United States, he became Chief Judge of Mega-City One in 2052 when the other mega-cities became autonomous and acquired their own chief judges. He founded Psi Division at the end of his term of office in 2057. Solomon was still serving as a senior street judge on the Council of Five during the Atomic Wars of 2070.
Solomon does not appear in any of the "present day" Dredd stories (2099 onwards), and has presumably died or resigned by this point. The Space Corps have a warship JDSS Solomon named in his honour.
Judgement of Solomon
Solomon is noted for his verdict in the war crimes trial of President Robert L. Booth, which became known as the "Judgement of Solomon." The story The Cursed Earth told of how President Robert L. Booth, the last president of the United States, initiated a global nuclear war in 2070 which left much of the world in ruins. In the aftermath, the constitutional government was overthrown and power was seized by the Street Judges (formerly an elite police force within the Justice Department). Booth was found guilty, but the judges were unable to decide what to do with him. Ordinary life imprisonment seemed too good for him, but they could not bring themselves to execute America's last president. It was Solomon who hit on the solution: a sentence of "living death" – suspended animation in a cryogenic chamber. Booth was sentenced to 100 years in suspended animation, buried deep within the vaults of Fort Knox. This inventive compromise sealed Judge Solomon's reputation for wisdom. (Writer Pat Mills named the character after the King Solomon of the Old Testament.) Origins later confirmed that the intent of this was that future generations would sentence Booth properly with the benefit of hindsight.
It was later revealed in Origins that Booth – released early – found the Judgement laughable, rhetorically asking "was that supposed to be some kind of terrible punishment?" (When Booth was unexpectedly revived after thirty years, Judge Dredd sentenced him to hard labour for life, cleaning up the mess he had made of America.)
In 1977 nobody expected the Judge Dredd strip to last for more than a couple of years, so no concerted effort was made to establish a proper character history or backstory until later on. Consequently, a lot of continuity inconsistencies have appeared between the first couple of years of episodes and the later ones. John Wagner would eventually write the story Origins to tidy up the continuity, stating "I knew that sometime it had to be done, if for no other reason than my own satisfaction."
Before Origins, there was debate among fans as to whether Solomon had ever been chief judge. Solomon's rank was not given in his first appearance and he did not wear the chief judge's uniform, although as he was drawn sitting on an eagle throne and presiding over Booth's trial, some fans assumed he was the chief judge. This view was substantially reinforced by a feature published in the 2000 AD Annual 1984, giving an unofficial timeline for future America. It stated the first three chief judges were Chief Judge Fargo (holding office from 2031 to 2051), then Solomon (2051 to 2058), and then Judge Goodman (2058 to 2101). The date given for Fargo's death in 2051 was taken from a picture of his tomb in prog 107, while the date of Solomon's resignation was deduced from a statement in prog 89 that Goodman had ruled for 43 years, ending in 2101. This timeline was later adopted for the Judge Dredd Roleplaying Game.
Other fans pointed out that these dates contradicted the date of 2070 given in the Cursed Earth story, that the timeline was not written by any of the Dredd strip writers and was indeed entitled an "Unofficial Version" (and invited readers to submit their own versions), and that the feature had been superseded by later stories written by Dredd creator John Wagner. One such story was Oz, showing a flashback to 2070 with Fargo (in his first strip appearance) as the absolute ruler of America, implying that Solomon was not chief judge when he sentenced Booth.
However a flashback to 2079 in the story Blood Cadets implied that Goodman was not yet chief judge at the time, while the earlier story Tale of the Dead Man suggested that Fargo was already dead by that time. It could therefore be inferred that another chief judge (although not named) had served between Fargo and Goodman.
Origins would reconcile most of these facts by showing Fargo's death being faked in 2051, while he still secretly survived into 2070. Solomon succeeded him as chief judge, and was in turn succeeded by Goodman in 2057 (contradicting the Blood Cadets reference, although the line in question - "back then standards had been allowed to slip. They tightened up a lot under Goodman" - could be read as not necessarily implying that Goodman wasn't chief judge at this stage.)
- 2000 AD #1505–1519 and 1529–1535
- Prog 919
- 2000 AD #68
- 2000 AD #1532
- 2000 AD #68
- SFX magazine #148, October 2006. Page 48
- 2000 AD #559
- 2000 AD #1187
- 2000 AD #666