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Beetle Bailey: Is Ms. Buxley using - shudder - Botox?

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And so it has come to this: A favorite funnies-page character has turned to chemical measures in a bid to thwart the ravages of age.

For many comics fans, Ms. Buxley of "Beetle Bailey" has long been the va-va-va-voomiest among four-color femmes. Sure, some of you may dig Blondie Bumstead and others may place Lois Flagston on a pedestal (and what to make of the coquettish June Morgan?), but Ms. Buxley usually trumps them all.

Now it seems as if the pressure to maintain her lead position has led her to use Botox to maintain her looks.

Wednesday's "Beetle Bailey" strip says it all. Suddenly, Ms. Buxley's got a much fuller face. Her cheeks look swollen and her eyes and lips seem fixed and immovable. This new look doesn't come from hours of primping. It is the direct result of a visit to the doctor's office. Can plastic surgery be far behind?

Perhaps Beetle Bailey, who has inexplicably captured Ms. Buxley's heart, is a demanding boyfriend who has threatened to drop her at the first hint of age. Maybe Ms. Buxley can't abide the notion that more guys might dig Blondie. Perchance there's a weight problem. Whatever the reason, it's sad things had to come to this.

As anyone who has watched cougar-ific Mary Worth lure new, age-appropriate male suitors over the years can tell you, there's something to be said for aging gracefully. We hope Ms. Buxley can hear what that is.

To reach the Comics Examiner, email me at bristei@aol,com or follow me on Twitter @bristei