*contains possible spoilers for those who haven't read the previous books*
Deathnote is a japanese manga series now produced by Viz media and origionally published by Shonen Jump, who make manga for boys aged 12-18 and also known for other manga's like Dragonball Z, Naruto and One piece. Written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata it is one of the most popular mainstream manga comics at the moment, this is reflected by its success in the form of an anime series, japanese film and in-production film with Warner Bros.
Deathnote volume 4 is the 4th in a series of 13, based on the life of Light Yagami a Straight A student that wants to be the head of the Japanese detective agency. On the way out of college he sees a rather odd notebook with the words "Deathnote" across the front and so in his curiosity picks it up and the game begins. Unknowingly he has picked up a book of the death gods, by writing a name in this book that person will die. With two Kira's now in the frame, L is forced to ask Light to join the taskforce and pose as the real Kira to try and draw out the other. This doesn't mean that Light is off the hook though as he is still the main suspect, but it does now mean that Light has all the forces information to hand. But when Light meets the new Kira, it definatley isn't what he or L were expecting...
Much like the last volume this one isn't all about the outright action and is more about the tension between characters as well as a new relationship for Light. As they investigate the new Kira, Light is found first by a young japanese model called Misa who is a little obsessive and demanding. The whole volume is mainly based around her and the effect she has on Light, both in the Kira case as well as showing the reader how distant Light is becoming from those around him.
The entrance of Misa shows brilliantly what Light has become, whilst a little crazy, she has nothing but care and devotion to give him and yet Lights plan is to manipulate her for all she's worth and then to get rid of her when he is done. This callousness is something we haven't seen before in Light and it is a bit shocking at times as he seems to move through the volume in a blur, mainly because he feels that the early control and strength he has is slowly slipping away. With Misa arriving as a new character it was important for the readers to quickly grasp what she is like and her character in general so the relative pace of the story can be maintained. This is done quite well and from the very few panels where we meet her we can tell that she is maybe too much of a sickly-sweet character. She has a huge obbsesion with Kira (Light) and meeting him really empthasises the love sick teenager that is inside her, it is all very "Yes Light" and "I'll do anything for you Light" and this makes for both a good character because it is so different to everyone we have seen so far, but it is also a difficult character to read because her center is so much on Light. The introduction of Misa means that the story inherits a new Shirigami (Death god). Ryuk as a character was always pretty bland, he isn't allowed to side with anyone and he was there for some minor comic releif as well as antagonizing Light at some points. Rem is straight off the bat a lot darker than Ryuk, Rem is dressed like a mummy and generally has a more angry attitude and especially towards Light. But this is because Rem has a little more depth to his character, we discover early on that there is a way for a Shirigami to die and that is by falling in love with a human. Rem has witnessed this in another Shirigami and after stealing the deceased's notebook he passes his onto Misa, as Rem discovers the extent of Misa's affection for Light there is some real jealousy. Because of this Rem threatens Light that if anything should happen to Misa, he will kill him.
The narrative for the story is inherently slower because the volume is based around the relationship between Light and Misa, the investigation takes a back seat and so does L who makes no real strong appearences during the story until near the end. This makes the volume less exciting to read and the volume just seems to wander along somewhat, which is not what's happened in the previous volumes.
Artistically the book has no outstanding set peices except a page where the confrontation between Rem and Light happens. Apart from that the book takes a slightly more adult turn with Misa's modelling taking a big part of the interest, being a manga aimed at teenage boys the odd shot of Misa kneeling on the bed in a long T-shirt is probabley understandable, but is not something that has been seen in the story previousley.
While it is essential for the continuing series it is the weakest of the first 4 volumes.