24,000 BCE - The Maltans collectively choose to police the universe against the incursion of entropy. The Maltan scientists and philosophers, collectively called the Guardians, disagree with the Maltan leadership and warriors, collectively called the Controllers, in the proper way to do this but are overruled, and the Manhunters are born.
22,000 BCE - The Controllers insist in rebuilding the Manhunters when the Anti-oan flaw in reality corrupts them and they attack Oa. They are eventually cast out of Oa by the Guardians. They make their way as rogue scientists and weaponsmiths of the highest order, using cloning and suspended animation technology to prolong their lives.
38 years ago - The Controllers experiment with Anti-Oan energies. Despite finding them unstable, they secretly craft a Red Lantern Battery for Atrocitus as an experiment.
27 years ago - The Controllers are forced into hiding when the Darkstars are destroyed by Ferrin Colos. They begin cultivating Sun-Eaters.
5 years ago - The Controllers are defeated by Buddy Baker, who releases the Sun-Eaters from corporeal space. With the Guardians gone, they begin developing their own new Red Lantern Energy weapons.
3 years ago - The Controllers abduct and experiment on Martyn Van Wyck empower him with focused Red Lantern Fire, but quickly lose control when he rampages against Kyle Rayner before he is ready. They are eventually able to collect him again, continuing their experiments.
1 year ago - The Controllers become part of Lady Styx's Forces, creating new Darkstar Technology.
There is a certain comic book logic to the Controllers. If the Green Lantern, our hero, was empowered by omniscient, cosmically empowered space aliens, then it's almost a given that at some point we're going to meet their evil doppelgangers. If anything it's actually funny that they're not a much bigger part of the Green Lantern mythology, instead of just a beacon of comic book weirdness. Still, they work really well for our timeline, they resolve a number of story requirements, and on the way help color and shape the larger story of DC.
The Controllers Comic History
As it happens, the Controllers didn't start out as the evil doppelgangers of the Guardians. They're an invention of Jim Shooter, the man responsible for the Legion of Superheroes. They appeared for the first time in Adventure Comics #357 in 1967 and were described as beings from "another space-time continuum". It wasn't until the Infinite Crisis that they were retconned into modern continuity as an offshoot of the original race that settled Oa, the Maltusians. (we're calling them 'Maltans'... literally because that's how anyone we talked to about this topic remembered them.)
There's a certain gravitas to the original idea of hyper-evolved extra-dimensional super-beings, and their design actually kind of reflects that, but that's not the role the controllers wound up filling. Over the years the Guardians have often been defined by their hubris as much as their altruism, so when you go back and look at some of the classic appearances of the Controllers it's sometimes actually kind of hard to tell which of them is the bad guy. The debate that originally led to their division from the Guardians is actually often presented as more morally grey; the wording is often closer to "should we try to eliminate evil or contain it?", although they've just as often been presented as mustache-twirling space villains.
Our Controllers Story
To begin with, we've tied the separation of the Guardians and the Controllers into the creation and betrayal of the Manhunters. We're simplifying a lot of the story of the Guardians, but by establishing that the Controllers are essentially the warrior and leadership class of the Maltans and are the more vocal advocates of the Manhunters, we're taking a lot of the narrative weight off of the backs of the Guardians. The comics over the years have liked to make the Guardians seem more sinister, but we find that that ultimately diminishes the core mythology of the Green Lanterns.
Moving forward, we've used the Controllers as a way to build new backstories for lots of villains that might otherwise have not had as solid a framework. While it's already established that the Controllers are responsible for the technology of the Darkstars, we've also decided that their experiments in Anti-Oan technology are responsible for Red Lantern Flame and the existence of the Red Lantern battery wielded by Atrocitus. This explains why there are two different types of Anti-Oan technology in the galaxy, the yellow lanterns created by the Qwardians and wielded by Sinestro, and the Controllers red lantern. This same technology can also be used to explain the one-off Kyle Rayner villain Effigy, who represents the Controllers attempts to infuse their Red Lantern fire DIRECTLY into an individual.
We also decided to make the Controllers responsible for Mongul's Warworld, just because we happened to like that idea.