The Guardians of the Universe refers to a race previously known as "Maltusians" who are thought to be one of the first intelligent life forms to appear in the universe.
Immortals with power and knowledge of the Emotional Energy Spectrum, the Guardians oversee known existence to combat evil and create an orderly universe.
Having long ago decided that emotions were a key factor in the creation of chaos, the Guardians have shed their emotions; opting to solely use the strength of Willpower from the Emotional Energy Spectrum to power their multitude of corps to enforce order in the universe.
The Guardians of the Universe evolved on the planet Maltus, and were possibly the first intelligent life forms in the Universe.
As time progressed, they became scientists and thinkers, experimenting on the worlds around them. In a pivotal moment, billions of years ago, a Maltusian named Krona used time-bending technology to observe the beginning of the Universe.
Feeling responsible for this, the Maltusians relocated to the planet Oa and took up the responsibilities of Guardians of the Universe.
To further their mission, they learned how to manipulate what they called "the Glow", and eventually created a Central Power Battery to store this energy.
Initially the Guardians formed a robotic army of Manhunters to patrol the Universe, but the Manhunters rebelled against their masters and were exiled.
The Manhunter rebellion led to schisms amongst the Guardians; one group (the Controllers) thought that the only way to protect the Universe was to fully control it, while the female Oans (the Zamarons) felt no further need to involve themselves in the Universe's problems at all. Both parties left Oa to persue their own ends.
The Guardians on Oa continued to persue their desire to guard the universe, creating what would eventually become the Green Lantern Corps.
The Guardians were almost wiped out when Parallax took control of Hal Jordan, the only survivor being Ganthet. The Oan Guardians had sacrificed themselves to create one final Power Ring which was in turn given to Kyle Rayner.
The Guardians were reborn when Rayner recharged the central battery. While Kyle had intended for them to be less cold than their predecessors, this did not work, and instead the Guardians were as cold and manipulative as they were before.
As overseers of the Green Lantern Corps, much of the corps' actions are dictated by the Guardians; such as the decision for the Corps to begin "Deputizing" New Heroes to bolster their ranks against the Sinestro Corps.
- The Guardians of the Universe first appeared in Green Lantern #1 (August, 1960)
- The Guardians of the Universe were originally physically based on David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, and were developed from an idea Schwartz and Broome had originally conceived years prior in a story featuring Captain Comet in Strange Adventures #22 (July, 1952) entitled "Guardians of the Clockwork Universe".
- While trying to remove magic from the Universe, the Guardians bound as much magical energy as possible into an orb called the Starheart. This would eventually become the ring and lantern of Alan Scott.
- On Mars, the Guardians confronted the destructive race known as "The Burning" and split the race into two new species: the Green Martians and the White Martians. The Guardians changed their reproductive behavior, and gave them an inherent fear of fire in order to stop their species from destroying much of the universe.
- The Guardians guided the rocket carrying baby Kal-El on its journey to Earth.