The secret is hero-worship and chemicals, lots of chemicals.
When you comb through the many paneled pages of Flash comic books, you uncover a trend that makes the Flash a character that is likable, relatable, and marketable. The Flash is more than just a hero, he’s a fan as well.
Bam! An accident happens and suddenly one person gets super speed. This is the story of not one but three generations of Flashes. Three out of four Flashes have similar stories to match their similar powers (Bart Allen had the good fortune of being a legacy). While the chemicals and powers are a big part of the mix, looking up to a hero is just as big a part.
Wally West, the third Flash and one time Kid Flash, the nephew of Barry Allen’s girlfriend had a hero, and that hero was the Flash (Barry Allen). Barry Allen, in turn was inspired by his childhood hero Jay Garrick a.k.a The Flash. To top it off, Jay Garrick’s pre-power hero was Whip Whirlwind (Max Mercury). Before becoming a hero, they all had a hero to look up to, someone who would fight the good fight and inspire young future heroes.
From a comic book writer’s perspective, giving the Flash a hero is a smart self-reference to add into the story. We’re reading a comic about a hero that once was a kid who enjoyed reading comics. Instant connection and suddenly this world that is not real becomes just a tab bit more relatable.
While the idea of heroes in Central City is a bit more tangible than in the average comic book reader’s world, the feeling of adulation toward heroes remains a constant. So not only do we love heroes, but we love heroes who love heroes too. That’s a lot of layers and introspection for the fastest man alive.