A race of cosmic beings that had originated on the planet Oa and were originally part of the Guardians of the Universe. The faction reached a crossroads when the Guardians created the Green Lantern Corps. The weaponsmiths believed that evil must be “destroyed, not contained”, as the Guardians maintained. As a consequence, half the planet's population left Oa, evolved, and eventually became known as the Controllers. The Controllers visited Earth on at least two occasions in the distant past. During prehistoric times, a Controller was assigned to create an "ultimate anti-war weapon" for Earth but died when his spacecraft crashed on the planet. Thousands of years later, the Controllers were said to have wandered the universe, seeding many worlds. Among those was the planet Earth. Those Controller-offshoots became known as gods in Mesopotamia (or perhaps they actually copied an existing religion) but many of their number, corrupted by power, were eventually banished to the other-dimensional underworld of Kurnugi.
The Controllers eventually recognised the benefits of having a law-enforcement agency at their disposal and formed the Network for the Establishment and Maintenance of Order. Their agents were the Darkstars, clad in crimson armor that was powered by the Controllers' own energy. In the end, the Darkstars became such a bureaucracy that its administrators were no longer working in the Controllers' interests. Declaring that their need to reduce chaos in the universe is still largely unmet, the immortals retired NEMO and began collecting individuals such as Earth's Martyn Van Wyck, whom they transformed into the flaming Effigy. Their plans to create an entire organisation of such beings – all brainwashed to serve the Controllers – was well underway before Kyle Rayner learned of the plan and convinced the immortals to abandon it.