The organization's roots start on the planet Maltus, and they were possibly the first intelligent life forms in the Universe. At this time they were tall greyish blue humanoids with black hair. In the early days of the universe, they were a war-filled race. Sometime later, they became scientists The Guardians of the Universe are a group of immortal Oans who organized and run the Green Lantern Corps. They have been trying to bring order to the universe for eons, with varying success.
The organization's roots start on the planet Maltus, and they were possibly the first intelligent life forms in the Universe. At this time they were tall greyish blue humanoids with black hair. In the early days of the universe, they were a war-filled race. Sometime later, they became scientists and thinkers, experimenting on the worlds around them. One experiment led to the creation of a new species, the Psions. In a pivotal moment, billions of years ago, a Maltusian named Krona used time-bending technology to observe the beginning of the Universe. This experiment flooded the beginning of the Universe with entropy causing it "to be born old".
Feeling responsible for this, some of the Maltusians relocated to the planet Oa (at "the center of the Universe") and became the Guardians of the Universe. Their goal was simple: combat evil and create an orderly universe, and they acted quickly on that goal. During this period they also changed to their current appearance.
- Before life existed on Earth, they learned how to manipulate what they called "the Glow", and eventually created a Central Power Battery to store this energy. This "energy" was actually the collective willpower of the inhabitants of the universe, and the center energy field of the Emotional Electromagnetic Spectrum. Accessing and manipulating this willpower gave the Guardians an ultimate tool to pursue their goals.
- Hunting down those who preyed on the weak, they captured a fear elemental, Parallax. They imprisoned the creature in the Central Battery, hoping to lock it away forever.
- Millennia ago after a protracted war they achieved an accord with the Reach, an alien race who turned out to be the source of the Blue Beetle Scarab bonded to Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes).
- The magic-wielding Empire of Tears was subjugated and imprisoned on the throneworld and tombworld of Ysmault.
- Trying to remove magic from the Universe, they bound as much magical energy as possible into an orb called the Starheart. In the pre-Crisis timeline, they shunted this orb into the universe of Earth-Two; in the unified timeline, it remained in the same universe. 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.
- Robotic Manhunters were created to patrol the Universe. The Manhunters rebelled, believing they were superior to the Guardians and should be in control, and were exiled.
- The mad god that was the entire Sector 3600 was defeated by the Guardians and was constrained by a matrix of their making. By showing the sector that they were its superiors, the Guardians had imprisoned it for all time.
- The insect race of Tchkk-Tchkki, later known as Legion, was enclosed in an emerald forcefield around their world.
- They reached an accord with the Spider Guild whereby they and their operatives would stay out of Vegan space. Due to this agreement the Omega Men have become the only peacekeepers in their sector.
- After the failed experiment with the Manhunters, the Guardians invented other ways of opposing evil in the universe. The Green Glob was an intelligent teaching machine created from their emerald energy, programmed to educate mortals all over the universe and able to briefly alter reality to do so.
- The Halla's, an intergalactic police corps wielding power guns channeling the emerald energy, was a short-lived successor of the Manhunters and a precursor to the successful Green Lantern Corps.
- Finally, the Green Lantern Corps was established to replace the Manhunters and the Halla's. These troops were given some of the power of the Central Power Battery, accessed through a ring. Due to Parallax's imprisonment in the Battery, these rings had no effect on the color yellow, which Parallax was attuned to through the Emotional Spectrum; this "flaw" was used as a limitation to control the Green Lanterns in case of their corruption.
- Against Apokolips, they waged a war. They tried several times to infiltrate Darkseid's home, finally deciding on a war against his rule. Their troops were brutally defeated with two-thirds dead. The attack on Apokolips ended with a truce.
- The Guardians guided Kal-El (Superman) on his journey to earth.
- During the Crisis on Infinite Earths the Guardians were again divided. A small group desired to take a more aggressive role in destroying evil and recruited Guy Gardner to act as their Green Lantern. The failure of the Guardians to act decisively in the Crisis led to their decision to temporarily withdraw from the universe.
The Manhunter rebellion led to schisms. One group (the Controllers) thought that the only way to protect the Universe was to control it. The female Oans (the Zamarons) felt no need to involve themselves in the Universe's problems. Over the years, both groups evolved to look most unlike the Guardians. Other groups have also left the Guardians; one such group settled on Earth, becoming the origin for leprechaun legends. The Manhunters became avowed enemies of the Guardians. The Apokolips campaign ended with a truce with the Guardians forced to abandon a soldier (Raker Qarrigat) to Darkseid. Fearing dissension, they ordered all records of the campaign expunged.
The Guardians were almost wiped out when Parallax took control of Hal Jordan, the only survivor being Ganthet. They sacrificed themselves to create one final power ring, a power ring perhaps more powerful than all others before it. Oa was itself destroyed in a battle between Parallax and Kyle Rayner, but rebuilt as the final wish of Hal Jordan's former power ring. The Guardians were restored when Kyle Rayner, as Ion, recharged the central battery. Rayner lost his power and role as Ion but this sacrifice released all the Guardian's life forces from the dormancy in his ring. The immortals first appeared as children but aged quickly and many seemed to return to the identities they had before they created Kyle Rayner's power ring. Unlike before however: the Guardians were male and female, rather than just male. While Kyle had made them children in order for them to grow up and become less cold than their predecessors, this did not work. Instead the Guardians were as cold and manipulative as they were before. Also one of them (Lianna) seemed to revert to the original Malthusian appearance in the process. With their revival they began to rebuild the Green Lantern Corps using veterans to train the new ring-bearers. Kyle Rayner's recent metamorphosis into Ion again seemed to be part of a new Guardian experiment, the evolution of the Corps. Alongside this experiment, the Guardians refortified Oa by creating a planet-wide armour and defensive system to prevent successful attacks against them.
Sinestro Corps War
Main article: Sinestro Corps War
The Sinestro War forces them to rewrite the Book of Oa and to add ten new laws. They also expelled Ganthet and Sayd from their rank, because they have experienced emotions, which they consider to be not permitted. The first law allowed the lethal force against the Sinestro Corps. During the Sinestro Corps' invasion of Earth, the Guardians decided to reassign Ion to Sodam Yat, a Daxamite who develops Superman-like abilities under Earth's yellow sun.
When the Anti-Monitor begins absorbing the positive matter of Earth, the Guardians joined the battle and unleashed their combined might on the so-called "Guardian of Fear", partly out of anger for being rendered nonfactors during the First Crisis. However, the Anti-Monitor is able hold his own against the combined group, and successfully manages to burn a female Guardian. Fortunately, Green Lanterns John Stewart and Guy Gardner come up with a plan to use Warworld and its mobile power battery as a weapon against the Anti-Monitor, seriously weakening him. Following Superboy-Prime's betrayal of the Anti-Monitor, the Guardians turn their attention to him, and one of the Guardians sacrifices his life to warp Prime out of the New Earth reality by acting as a human bomb. With Hal Jordan's arrest of Sinestro, the re-imprisoning of Parallax, and the supposed deaths of the Anti-Monitor, Hank Henshaw, and Superboy-Prime, the leaderless Sinestro Corps withdraws.
War of Light
Main article: War of Light
Following the Sinestro Corps, the Guardians, at the lead of the increasingly militant Scarred Guardian, decided to take steps to prevent the War of Light from coming to pass. They created a new division called the Alpha Lanterns, which serves as a sort of "internal affairs" group. The selected Lanterns were subjected to invasive surgery that allows them to store Power Batteries in them and directly links them to the Book of Oa. However, it also appeared to strip the Lanterns of all emotion, a sort of Lantern-Manhunter hybrid. Also, the Alpha Lanterns have a rigid, literal following of the Book of Oa, not allowing circumstances to be included in their decisions. Additionally, the Guardians authorized the use of lethal force against all enemies of the Green Lantern Corps after they detected a surge of red energy of hate on the emotional spectrum belonging to the Red Lantern Corps.
While this occurs, the Sinestro Corps, though leaderless and fighting off a hostile takeover by Mongul II, embarked upon a campaign to terrorize the Green Lantern Corps by targeting their families. Additionally, the Zamarons, having long harnessed the violet energy of love, form their own Star Sapphire Corps to spread love throughout the Universe. The Guardians decided to try a diplomatic mission to dissuade the Zamarons from continuing, where they discover that the Zamarons have captured multiple female Sinestro Corpsmen and crystallized them in an effort to fill their hearts with love. The Guardians request that the Zamarons stop their experiments, but they refused. Recognizing the threat from the Sinestro Corps and the Star Sapphires, the Guardians add a third law forbidding romance or physical relationships between Green Lanterns.
Unknown to the other Guardians, however, the Scarred Guardian had been exposed to the power behind the Blackest Night while she burned at the Anti-Monitor's hand. She no longer sought to protect the Universe, but leave the Green Lantern Corps weakened when the Blackest Night occurred.
When the Guardians discovered that not only had Atrocitus harnessed the red light of rage, but Ganthet and Sayd had harnessed the blue light of hope and created their own Blue Lantern Corps in which it displeasure the Guardian to declaring Ganthet and Sayd's actions tantamount to treason; in which the Guardians even went far as to attempt to forcibly remove the blue ring acquired by Hal Jordan, even resorting to using green light to try and destroy it, only to discover that it would not go so quietly. However, the Guardians soon learned that Green Lantern Stel had been attacked on the outskirts of the Vega System, and had been branded with the seal of the Orange Lantern Corps. Soon, a hologram of Larfleeze, also known as Agent Orange and the leader of the Orange Lanterns, burst from the seal and accused the Guardians of sending the Controllers to steal the orange light from him. The Guardians insisted that the Controllers had severed all ties with them billions of years ago, but Larfleeze refused to listen, declaring the treaty between himself and the Guardians null and void. Scar then blasted the hologram and proposed repealing the Vega system ban. The Guardians agreed, but some had reservations on both the plan and Scar herself.
Main article: Blackest Night
War of the Green Lanterns
Main article: War of the Green Lanterns
Rise of the Third Army
Main article: Rise of the Third Army
Wrath of the First Lantern
Main article: Wrath of the First Lantern
- The Guardians of the Universe were developed after an initial concept by editor Julius Schwartz. The name was taken from a story written by John Broome in Strange Adventures #22 titled "Guardians of the Clockwork Universe". Artist Gil Kane modeled the characters after the Prime Minister of Israel at the time, David Ben-Gurion.
- 14 Guardians of the Universe were killed during the Crisis on Infinite Earths.
- 365 Appearances of Guardians of the Universe (New Earth)
- 34 Images that include Guardians of the Universe (New Earth)
- Organization Gallery: Guardians of the Universe (New Earth)
- Green Lantern: Ganthet's Tale
- Sandman: Endless Nights
- Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2
- Justice League of America #141
- Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn #4
- Green Lantern (Volume 2) #90
- Green Lantern 80-Page Giant #3
- Green Lantern (Volume 3) #50
- Green Lantern (Volume 4) #25
- Green Lantern (Volume 4) #39
- Man of Two Worlds (Schwartz Autobiography)
- Green Lantern (Volume 2) #199