It wasn't long after the Claremont/Byrne run, that much is certain. There was a spell there where even existing characters were suddenly said to be mutants (Cloak and Dagger come to mind) and Wolverine was in just about every Marvel book being publi...come to think of it, that spell is still ongoing. And it seemed that for a while they would throw out dozens of characters at a time with any power that the creative team could pull out of its collective ass. The whole mutant phenomenom became tiresome real quick.
That said, I would still get the X-Men or Wolverine books which featured significant appearances by Alpha Flight, whether it was the if the whole team or only one two members, if I happened to hear about them. That includes #414, when Northstar is offered a teaching position at Xavier's school.
Because it didn't seem as though Northstar was a significant part of the book, I generally ignored it beyond that one issue. But with Alpha Flight having come to an end, Northstar will return to the mutant team with Astonishing X-Men #48 (though technically he never left; he made it quite clear that he didn't consider himself a member of Alpha Flight in the 8-issue mini-turned-ongoing-turned-mini-again series).
Northstar's X-Men "return" isn't breaking news; his appearance in the book was first announced in mid-December.
What seems to have changed is his degree of involvement within. Here are the solicitations for issues 49 (April) and 50 (May):
• The Marauders Are Back! • Something From Northstar’s Past Has Resurfaced And Is Looking For Revenge. • Kyle Goes Missing – How Is He Connected To The Person Behind Everything?And for what it's worth, he's rather prominent on the cover for the latter.
• Karma is losing control of her mind, and taking control of the other X-Men! • When Kyle is put in danger, will Northstar choose him or his team? • Don’t miss the end of this issue – it’ll be the most talked about moment of the year!
So we'll give the first story arc a try and see where things go. I've heard nothing but good things about writer Marjorie Liu so perhaps this will be a pleasant surprise. I just hope I can make sense of it being that I don't read any of the other dozens of mutant-based books that Marvel publishes.