Ever since the X-Men headed out west to hang out in San Francisco, pretty much every single X-character has, at some point or another, popped up here or there to make at least a background appearance in one of the ump-teen X-Men books. We’ve seen everyone from Diamond Lil to Random have a moment here or there, and anyone who has been a member of the X-Men proper have pretty much done SOMETHING in that time span.
All except one, that is.
Neal Shaara was introduced to the X-Men in the six month gap following Apocalypse: The Twelve and the apparent death of Cyclops therein. Chris Claremont returned to the title he made famous, and with him came a new rookie X-Man with the age-old code name of Thunderbird. Neal was the guy who asked the questions that the reader might ask to get the exposition out of the way, and made the rookie mistakes that allowed veterans like Bishop and Wolverine to toss out “kid” and “junior” here and there.
Neal stuck around for a while through Claremont’s run, even being one of the heavier factors in breaking up the years-old relationship of Psylocke and Archangel. Upon Psylocke’s death, he stuck around the X-Treme X-Men team for a while, rebounding over to the newly introduced Heather Cameron (Lifeguard, if you like lame code-names) and the two actually had one of the more interesting building storylines of the title. Heather was revealed to be of Shi’Ar descent, which sent her douche of a brother running away from her. Thus, Neal decided to accompany Heather in looking for the little jerk, and also seek out answers to Heather’s true heritage.
And then? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The two popped up for a cameo in the rather terrible Genosha-based Excalibur book, and both seemed to have kept their powers through M-Day, but for whatever reason, no creator has wanted to touch them since. Claremont finished his stories in X-Treme and Uncanny X-Men without going back to them, and no one else has gone beyond a namedrop of Lifeguard here and there.
So what gives? Is he that terrible a character that he can’t even be given a teaching role in the school?
It should be noted that a character created specifically for his back-story in an issue of X-Men Unlimited, Karima Shapandar, has not only been a much, much longer serving X-Man than him, but has just been reintroduced as a member of the all-ladies team on X-Men.