There are many things I don't understand in this world. Advanced mathematics. The internal combustion engine. Rod Liddle. Oh and economics.

The latter, in particular, is something of a pity, since the world we live in right now - this austerity version - has been shaped by economics, by the banks, by multinational corporations and neoliberal economic theory. It would be worth knowing why that's been such a disaster.

Books are an obvious source of information. You can pick up John Lanchester's Whoops! or Danny Dorling's Inequality and the 1% or even Thomas Piketty's Capital. But for an entry level primer may I suggest Darryl Cunningham's Supercrash? The subtitle How to Hijack the Global Economy gives a pretty clear indication of where Cunningham is coming from and if you want to get a grasp on what derivatives, Collaterised Debt Obligations and toxic assets are, this is a good place to start.

But Supercrash does much more than this. It's also a biography of the writer Ayn Rand, a history of her theory of objectivism and how it fed into political thinking in America (via the likes of Alan Greenspan, one of Rand's followers who would go on to become the chairman of the Federal Reserve) and the disastrous consequences that resulted. It also looks at the psychology of politics, the current UK coalition government's welfare policies, UKIP and how capitalism is currently eroding the very concept of democracy.

It's the way that Cunningham fuses all of these elements together that makes Supercrash so potent. The obvious comparison, it seems to me, is with documentary film-maker Adam Curtis whose films explore the history of ideas and systems. Indeed there is some crossover between Supercrash and Curtis's most recent BBC2 series All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace, first broadcast in 2011. Both projects explore the ideas of Ayn Rand.

Where Curtis uses found film to visualise his argument, Cunningham works with visual metaphors and symbolism. But the result is similar: a provocative, thoughtful, visual essay that tackles the language of ideas.

I first came across Cunningham's work in his small press days at the end of the 1980s. Back then he was creating intense, febrile psychodramas like Blood Relatives, a world away from Supercrash. But there are some continuities. The way he uses visual repetition has remained very much part of his work. He's simply applying it in a different way. (As an aside, he's also always been great at visualising cities. Perhaps he should look at the issue of housing next.)

Graphic journalism is hardly a new idea. Joe Sacco, the author of Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde, is probably the best-known exemplar of the form. But Sacco's work is experential. It's a report from the front. Cunningham - in his previous book Science Tales and here - is attempting to visualise ideas rather than events. At times some of the imagery is obvious - giant dollar signs, grasping extended hands - but that doesn't mean they're not effective.

Supercrash will leave you better informed and, more than that, it will leave you angry. Angry that we live in a culture that has effectively handed control to the financial classes who have divorced themselves emotionally and politically from the rest of us. We are paying for their errors and their greed. It's proving a high price.

Supercrash, by Darryl Cunningham, Myriad Editions, £14.99

Also Recommended

Bumperhead, Gilbert Hernandez, Fantagraphics

Is Gilbert Hernandez the most prolific cartoonist we have? If so, it doesn't seem to affect his quality. Bumperhead, an impressionistic, vivid rush through the childhood, adolescence and early adulthood of glam rocker turned punk Bobby. For a story about the lack of affect in one boy's life it's surprisingly affecting.

Kill My Mother, Jules Feiffer, Liveright

What's striking about this new graphic novel from the 85-year-old cartoonist is its ferocious energy. The looseness of Feiffer's line here doesn't feel like a loosening of control, more a reflection of his eagerness to communicate. The result is a noir thriller that has all the cynicism of Billy Wilder.

Next Week: For Halloween, the best scary stories in comics. Suggestions welcome.